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One setting in our app has to be as follows:

For a certain scenario, the user select whether he wants:

  • Always use option X
  • Or always use option Y
  • Or, depending on a dynamic flag, use X or Y (he also need to select the dynamic flag in this case)

We're roughly thinking of the following:

 |-- Action on Event-XY ------
 |
 |  (o) Generate Warning
 |  ( ) Generate Error
 |  ( ) Error, if variable > 0, else Warning: [Combobox to choose variable flag]
 |
 |-----------------------------

What I'm trying to come up with is an elegant solution to the third radio button. (I'm not set on radio buttons, it just seemed to make the most sense.)

As you can see, the user can choose from a set of "variables" and that flag-var is then used as a bool to decide dynamically if the Event raises an Error or a Warning.

There are two problems here:

  • The combobox that is part of the line for the radio button seems a bit odd
  • The text to explain what can be chosen in the combobox is far too long and too complicated.

Any ideas how to map the functionality to the GUI more elegantly?

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2 Answers

I'd move the combo into the middle of the last option so it flows more naturally:

 |-- Action on Event-XY ------
 |
 |  (o) Generate Warning
 |  ( ) Generate Error
 |  ( ) Generate Error if [Combo] > 0, otherwise generate warning
 |
 |-----------------------------

Aside from that radio buttons seem like a good choice.

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Hmmm ... integrating text with a control always seems very fiddly. (This is a Windows application, so howe the controls look is determined by the OS settings.) Do you happen to know any specific examples I could look at where text is nicely integrated with a control in a Windows desktop app? –  Martin Oct 20 '11 at 6:07
    
You can skin the combobox to look flat and subtle, just like the surrounding text but with a drop-down caret. And as long as they have the same font and the text is aligned well I think it can be rather smooth. –  Assaf Lavie Oct 20 '11 at 7:51
1  
Outlook / Outlook express do this with a link, then pop up an appropriate window. (You could just show the combo then.) I think most users understand it well. See for example email.about.com/od/stepbystepwalkthroughs/ss/… –  Inca Oct 20 '11 at 11:41
    
Good example, @Inca –  Assaf Lavie Oct 20 '11 at 13:10
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I think the bigger problem here lies in explaining the options to your customers.

Why not handle it the way most synchronisation application do. With "always x", "always y", and "ask me" options. Here "ask me" means that every time this happens they are prompted with whether they want to perform x or y.

It will be a lot simpler to explain and a lot easier for your customers to use.

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Thanks for trying an alternative. Unfortunately, this isn't feasible in our case. (The option are for logging / alerting someone for an unattended processing run.) –  Martin Oct 20 '11 at 6:05
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