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I have to visualize a long list of elements (max about 9k) where each element has linked a set of attributes to visualize. The set of attributes is not the same for each element, but some of them can be shared. Each list element and attribute should be editable.

Take as example a list of countries. For each country the name can be translated in one ore more languages. The number of translations can vary for each country.


  • Italy: Italia (it), Italie (fr)
  • France: Francia (it)
  • German: Deutschland (de), Allemagne (fr), Alemania (es), Tyskland (sv)

One idea is to represent the list as a table (excel like), but it would be a sparse table, with a lot of empty cells.

A solution to the "sparse problem" is to represent only the more frequent attributes (in the example the more frequent languages/translations) and let the user expand the single element for visualization/editing.

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What is the question? – bendataclear Sep 10 '13 at 8:45
How to visualize that kind of data. – Fedy2 Sep 10 '13 at 8:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your 9k elements are the most important part. So you should display them in grid with all their shared properties. The shared properties could be use to sort, filter, find the elements.

The attributes can't be used for sorting or filtering. The user will never browse 9k elements to find an attribute present only on some of them. So you could show only the more frequents one in the order you prefer. And give the user a hover or popup or dialog to see all of them. This image is not a blueprint it's illustration of idea and link you certainly could do better.

grid with dialog on clic
If you think the user need to see all attributes, it's because user know which attribute is interesting. So he must first select what he is searching for to display only elements with that attribute. If he don't know what he is searching and want to see everything it's like going to google homepage to see what's on internet.

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The properties list can be visualized/expanded inside the row. An extra feature can be to let the user decide to visualize a property as a column, maybe dragging the property name to the main table header. – Fedy2 Sep 10 '13 at 13:42
If you let user drag and drop properties to column header to add a new column you may decide to do a query on the whole list to display only row with that property set. – ColdCat Sep 10 '13 at 14:59

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