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I'm currently implementing a database querying tool, and am currently working on a section which would allow users to specify ORDER BY and Aggregate clauses. My biggest challenge has been to represent it in a neat format, while allowing users to add as many attributes as they like. What I've done so far is presented the results as a Tree, where users can add levels to the tree, representing new attributes.

Pressing the 'Add Attributes' button adds a new level in the tree. I'm not 100% satisfied with this approach, however I also tried a grid approach but preferred this due to the fact that users can keep adding as many attributes as they like.

Does it appear user-friendly, neat and visually pleasing? If not, what could be improved? Is there some other representation I could use?

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I would suggest that you force the width of the leftmost dropdown to a common size, so that everything lines up neatly. –  Ben Voigt Feb 22 '13 at 23:15
    
Thanks @BenVoigt - I'll do that :) –  Dot NET Feb 22 '13 at 23:20
    
I don't know your users, but in terms of complex DB querying, there's still a place for the command line interface. I do feel we often design GUIs to handle complex issues that, depending on the users, at times would be better handled via the command line. –  DA01 Feb 23 '13 at 0:50

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Congratulations, you've invented TreeTable. Don't get me wrong, no sarcasm at all. The direction is right, but current implementation should be changed. TreeTable example:

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BTW, your task is not new, so there are a lot of other real-life examples:

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My biggest concern is flexibility. Naturally, there is no problem if you do not need to support some other constructions except "Attribute|Order|Function". If you do need -- free form editor can be build using something like this:

enter image description here

I do not suggest to go that way, just want you to know there is another way, which provides:

  • flexibility
  • visual hints
  • simplified validation
  • user-friendliness
  • etc

TreeTable is the best solution because you already have it implicitly.

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Nice detailed answer. Kudos! –  daydalis Feb 23 '13 at 4:38
    
Thanks for the detailed answer. Is TreeTable available in WPF? I'm using TreeView to implement the above. –  Dot NET Feb 23 '13 at 9:04
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You are welcome. Sorry, I have very little experience with WPF, please check the following example - codeproject.com/Articles/30721/WPF-TreeListView-Control –  Renat Gilmanov Feb 23 '13 at 20:32

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