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I have the equivalent of a timeline with individual objects that can have many options. The issue is that the visual representation must remain constrained to easily read the timeline. The current plan would have a flag to indicate if advanced settings were set for a particular item so that the user can contextually view that information.

The problem arises with the user who needs to build the timeline, they need a way of inserting the meta data. Some options are simple toggles, feature on/off, which is easily handled in a context menu. However some require entering values in. There are examples (few and far between) of context menus that have form elements in them.

For example, Microsoft uses an additional context menu above the regular context menu for font controls. This includes a dropdown and input which control font and font size. This meta data about the font and size is viewable and modifiable from the context menu.

Example of Context menu with form elements

Other examples could be Adobe Photoshops use of Pallet (windows or docked) that provide the form out of context from the selected object. (this however requires objects to support being selected)

Summary of the Question: How best to solve for entering in a large number of options when the interface is restricted from having a large form present.

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Do you have any particular question about the menus? Requests for examples aren't a very good fit for this site. –  3nafish May 21 '13 at 18:44
    
@3nafish I phrased my question to be generic rather than. Hey guys in this one case that is only useful to me, what should I do. I fail to see on a UX site, looking for supporting examples/research on an existing pattern isnt a very good fit for the site. Do you have a suggestion on how to rephrase without making the question simply about my situation. I simply am looking for best practices, usability pit-falls, etc. Happy to rephrase, but this site should support questions on, here's a pattern, what are the pros and cons (with support). What are successful and anti-patterns for it. –  Chris Janssen May 21 '13 at 18:50
    
See this answer by JonW on meta. The short form is: the site's not just a UX site, it's a UX Q&A site and requests for examples don't usually work well in a Q&A format because there's no one best answer. –  3nafish May 21 '13 at 19:03
    
As to how you could improve the post...instead of asking explicitly for examples, ask for the best practices regarding a particular aspect of the design (basically what you just said in your comment). Good answers will use examples to support their arguments, but it's not really examples you want: it's the pros and cons (again from your comment) that those examples are being used to demonstrate. Contextual menus for text are a big topic. Ask about the best practices concerning some particular aspect of them (such as how many elements to include, how to label them, or how to position them). –  3nafish May 21 '13 at 19:04
    
@3nafish, Thanks for the constructive suggestions, though I would argue that Patterns are a description of a best practice, but I can take that debate to meta if I so feel the need. I will attempt to re-word the question later today. –  Chris Janssen May 21 '13 at 19:15
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1 Answer 1

I can think of two solutions.

1. Create space for creating or editing an item. Fold out space inside the timeline, or create a modal on top.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

2. Put the UI for editing the advanced options in a modal that is triggered from one of the options in the context menu. This creates a bit of space so that UI can breathe, and you don't have to be afraid of accidentally closing the context menu.

mockup

download bmml source

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