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I've got a webpage with a fairly small window containing a Gantt chart timeline. As to not completely overload the user with all the items in the Gantt, it only shows the four items most relevant to the current timeframe.

However, when the user scrolls to see more, it is possible that they will scroll to a blank section of the chart. If a user scrolls directly down, they end up with a blank bit of page. Same if they scroll directly right. The Gantt moves down in a diagonal, but it is not a consistent angle.

Any suggestions on how to deal with this? I'm a programmer, and programmatically, I'm thinking of forcing the scroller to move to the right so the user will always have something on the screen. Is that bad?

The other thing I'm thinking of is a visual que of what direction they should scroll in for the Gantt bars.

It's a weird one that I'm hoping somebody has dealt with before.

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1 Answer 1

Well, to be honest, my first thought on reading this is that the small window on scrolling gantt chart sounds like a bad solution to whatever the problem that necessitates it is... but without knowing what that problem is it's hard to offer concrete suggestions for improvement.

As for solutions to this particular problem - options that spring to mind:

1) use some kind of texture instead of flat colour for the background, then the person scrolling will get a stronger visual indicator that they are scrolling in the blank areas

2) Have a 'mini' view of the gantt chart somewhere that shows the area the user is currently viewing so they can orient their window with respect to the full chart.

However - this still feels like a scrolling gantt chart is the wrong solution.

(To use a development analogy - it feels like somebody asking how to automatically populate variables a1 through to a10 - and 'real' right answer is probably 'use arrays' or some other data structure).

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thanks adrian. I like the idea of using a texture to show that the user is scrolling. I had thought of the smaller window to show the full gantt in minature, but I've never liked that as a UX element. The window isn't that small, but doesn't fit the full gantt chart. I got rid of the chart completely, and people complained that it wasn't there. You are right about the data-structures comparison unfortunately, I'm yet to find a structure that works well for displaying events in time concisely. A path or facebook style timeline take up even more space, which doesn't work. –  pedalpete Nov 1 '12 at 22:41
    
Can you talk more about the problem that necessitates a timeline? –  adrianh Nov 2 '12 at 9:22

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