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I have a styled table containing first and last names in each column and nothing else. As part of the usage of my app, people will be entering names.

Should I:

  • Have the "add" button launch a modal(using jquery) window and have the user enter the information and save. As soon as the modal closes, the table updates.

OR

  • Have the "add" button create a new row at the bottom of the table. The new row will contain textboxes in the position of their respective content(column wise) and have a save button to the right of the row when the s
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'd say the second is more difficult to implement, but infinitely preferable for the user, for the following reasons:

  • The user won't have to shift her gaze.
  • The rest of the table isn't blocked and can be used as reference when filling in the values.
  • The fields are automatically mapped to their respective columns. With the model dialog you need a host of labels that the user needs to mentally map back to the table.

There are, however, more UI pitfalls lurking with this option:

  • Your UI has two modes: editing and viewing. Things like column sorting and live filters shouldn't be accessible or update when you're in editing mode and this should be communicated to the user.
  • When leaving editing mode, the sorting shouldn't be updated immediately as this will be unexpected for the user. Let the user inspect the result of her work and explicitly re-sort the table
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In my opinion, inline editing of form fields inside tables should not be used in tables which have large number of values and UI widgets like pagination/sorting as this will lead of wierd behaviors as described by @peter –  djagatram Feb 25 '13 at 6:55
    
Note that the modal dialog option has the same problem. If the user clicks save on the dialog and the record has suddenly disappeared from the view, the user will still be surprised/annoyed. –  Peter Feb 25 '13 at 16:32
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