Here's something I come across fairly frequently: A large collection (list or table) of items serves as an overview, displaying only the name of each individual item (with a link to the respective resource).
For example, let's imagine a list of fast-food restaurant addresses:
| London Berlin Moscow Paris ----+------------------------------------ McD | <ML1> <MB1> <MM1> <MP1> | <ML2> <MB2> <MP2> | <ML3> BK | <BL1> <BB1> <BM1> <BP1> | <BL2> <BB2> <BM2> SW | <SL1> <SB1> <SP1> | <SL2> | <SL3>
Now the global Health Inspector General wants to use this overview to display employees, schedule inspection dates and assign priorities - without having to click through to each individual restaurant's page.
So essentially, what we need here is some sort of on-demand context menu, both for displaying additional details and for performing actions on the respective item.
However, none of the options I can think of seem appealing to me:
- overload item link to display a modal dialog -- undesirable because the direct link should still be accessible
- display icon(s) next to each item to bring up a modal dialog -- with many items, this adds a lot of noise
- make the aforementioned icon(s) only display on-mouse-over -- this seems a bit jarring and unintuitive
- expand each item on-click, accordion-style -- this seems like a weird combination of #1 + #2 + #3 and adds the issue of layout disruption
- hijack mouse right-clicking -- nobody should do this on the web, ever
Is there a better way, perhaps an already established convention? Any suggestions would be most welcome!