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My case: Users belong to a group. Depending on the selected users the group-state can be either checked (all users are within that group), unchecked (no user is in that group) or indeterminate (some are in a group).

My entire system uses checkboxes to select items, pages, and groups to move, copy or delete them. Hence, I can not use checkboxes to indicate the group-state.

What alternative input method can I use to indicate and change the group-state?

For example (wireframe): How do I add the missing three users to the group "users" without using the checkboxes since they are reserved for moving, duplicating or deleting items in the list?

enter image description here

Edit: Ok to make my point as simple as possible: Imagine I am not able to use checkboxes (for a technical reason or what so ever). I want to

  1. indicate that all, not all or no users (to the left) are inside a group
  2. provide functionality to change affiliation of all users (to the left) to a group at once.

A checkbox would immediately provide my requirements. But as I mentioned, checkboxes are used for an other functionality (on the entire system)

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It sounds like this is a checkbox that automatically updates the state itself based on entered data rather than being a user-selected option. Is that correct? – JonW Mar 7 '14 at 12:23
I guess I'm still unclear what you're asking. Checkboxes are used to add users to a group and show group status? – Hynes Mar 7 '14 at 13:45
@JonW Exactly. But I'm looking for an alternative of indicating its state since the checkbox is not ment to do this. – uxfelix Mar 7 '14 at 13:48
@Hynes The checkboxes in my system are only used for selecting objects. I don't want to use them for indicating states. My problem now is that these items need to indicate states a checkbox can have and(!) need to provide functionality to change that state. – uxfelix Mar 7 '14 at 13:50
I'm still not following you 100% @uxfelix. Can you provide a screenshot or wireframe example that shows the current problem? – Hynes Mar 7 '14 at 13:54

I think you are trying to separate the action of selection from the display of status.

If the purpose is to display group state, perhaps that status needs to be indicated by highlight and within the column like so:

group selections

Hope this helps.

share|improve this answer
Thanks @Pdxd for your answer. I'm looking for a solution that indicates and especially provides the possibility to change the items state as well. – uxfelix Mar 10 '14 at 7:05

I don't know how the users (Tom, Andy, George, Walter and Sam) appeared on the left side, but assuming that is not important since you don't mention it, you can drag them onto the category on the right.

Once the user/name has been dropped onto the category name, the number should be updated automatically. But it will be very useful if you also show a list of the included elements (users) and if you use a background colour behind the new element to inform the user operating the interface what has been the last change.

share|improve this answer
Drag and drop is a good thought. Unfortunately the user will not be able to retain the exact old state of an item that easy. Unfortunately your solution would also need a list inside a list. – uxfelix Mar 10 '14 at 11:21

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