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In an old Oracle Forms application, we have certain forms for providing report settings and starting the report. In many cases, a from/to range can be given, for example from Customernr. 1 - 10.

In some cases, brackets are used to "inform" the user that the to value is optional, and if empty only the from-value is used. If no brackets are shown, the empty to field is considered as infinite.

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In this example, the Order date on the To-side is considered infinite. If for example the 'customer nr'. on the to-side is empty, the report will be generated for the "From-customer". It is possible that the entire To-column is enclosed with brackets.

How can this be layout be reworked, including the previous options for the to-value. Are there other options so that this is not an issue anymore?

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1 Answer 1

Don’t we all love these old systems where you need to remember a customer number and an article number to be able to find anything. It must be the most useful thing ever invented. I don’t see why you need to change anything here?!

But OK, if you really want to change the UI – why not try to make something useful, if you have access to the data? How about asking for Customer name and Article name instead of a number? That way users of your system can find all baseball bats among articles instead of all articles with the article number 100 – 120. Some systems have ordered their articles according to numbers, but have yours’? Either way it’s much easier for the user to remember baseball bats than 100-120, or customers with initial letter C than customer number 87652 – 87743.

I would also not require the to field. If omitted you would display anything containing “baseball” (if that’s what your user is typing in the first box). The same goes for customers. Dates however is different. As your current view, everyone knows how to operate them, and that’s all fine. But as an alternative to click 24 times on the DateTimePicker month control you could use a logarithmic slider. From the date chosen you could use a slider to select a range before or after the chosen date. The range could be 1 day, 3 days, a week, 2 weeks, a month, 3 months, 1 year, 2 years, or whatever range your users are most likely to use.

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One of my concerns for this, are new users, who don't understand how to use this. Eventually they all do, of course. It's true that article and customer are linked to a unique id, some power users know these by number, others use the name. So looking them up by name makes sense. For the date, we are looking to improve the ui, while staying in Oracle Forms, so a slider won't be possible. We could show a list with radio buttons of course, with options for example Week, Month, Year, Specific date and None? –  Kim Nov 6 '12 at 13:30
    
@Kim You could keep the old UI for power users as well, if they like to filter by numbers instead of names. For the date it really comes down to what report ranges the users really uses? It could be last full month (october 1 - 31) or the last month (october 6 - november 5). I think some interview with your users (not stakeholders) would do the trick and you'll know what to do. Good luck! –  Benny Skogberg Nov 6 '12 at 13:54

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