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I've got a form where you can make some stuff become arbitrarily unknown and some stuff become skipped based on the way you answer the questions (there is some overlap, things can be both skipped and unknown, but skipped takes precedence).

Previously I was just making Skipped stuff disappear and Unknown disabled (using Delphi VCL this is pretty easy). But it's been a few years and I'm revisiting the code and the powers that be want me to do something else. Except they're not very clear on how it should look, except nothing should disappear off the screen.

What's a good way to present a user with the concept of:

  • a skipped groupbox
  • a skipped text edit
  • a skipped label
  • a skipped radio button
  • a skipped checkbox

and

  • an unknown groupbox
  • an unknown text edit
  • an unknown label (this isn't important, can just use enabled := false)
  • an unknown radio button
  • an unknown checkbox

at my disposal are all the colors of the rainbow except yellow, orange, red and blue (these already mean something)

Skipped and unknown things at the very least should be read only and not have any indication that they have any data and it should be easy to differentiate skipped from unknown.

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I'm not entirely sure what you mean by a skipped/unknown groupbox, since it's not a control that receives focus, but it doesn't matter much. I think you should just use two different icons - maybe an X for skipped and a question mark for unknown.

I don't think using colors is a great idea, especially since you are say that at least 4 colors already have meanings.

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Skipped and Unknown are traits specific to the form. For instance, if M0030 is checked then skip to M0130, (M0040, M0050, M0070... would be skipped). Unknown is an option which you can set on anything on the form. An Icon wouldn't be a bad idea though I hadn't thought about it before. The only problem would be putting an X in a checkbox or radio for skipped, but maybe I can just set those to disabled and use a ? for other stuff. –  Peter Turner Feb 25 '11 at 21:14
    
I meant an icon of X, next to the field, not inside it... –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Feb 25 '11 at 22:14
    
+1 for not using colors. Clear indicators (x,?) help with accessibility. Especially as different monitors show colors differently. And yellow on white as example is bad to see. –  Heiko Rupp Feb 28 '11 at 11:27
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