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When should we use numbers-only edit boxes, and when should we use spin boxes?

Is there a rule of thumb to decide which to use? Or should we always use spin boxes if we'll be inputting only numbers?

For example, I have a numbers-only edit box, where I input a port number between 1 and 65535. I don't think anyone would use the arrows, because the interval is so great. People would be inputting the number directly.

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We use spin boxes for phone numbers and for credit card numbers. Because we hate users. (kidding) –  Erics Apr 12 at 11:25
    
I like the "spin" boxes because it does a lot of checking for me. I KNOW that then I use a spin box I can put limits on it and that letters will never appear –  TruthOf42 Apr 14 at 12:44

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In many UIs, you can input a number directly in a spin box without using the arrows.
Taking this fact into account, I think that you should use a spin box only when it makes sense for the user to change the value using the arrows instead of inputing directly a new value.

In my opinion, using the arrows makes sense only when you need to increment/decrement a value repeatedly, or actually in any case where incrementing/decrementing would be easier than actually modifying directly the value in the field.

That's why, to answer to your question, I would say that in this case, you shouldn't use a spin box because of the reasons you mentioned but also simply because it won't enhance in any way the UX.

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Use spin boxes when the value being entered is a numerical value within a range, and don't use them when the number instead represents an identity (e.g. port number).

Especially consider using spin boxes if the value is a numerical value where you want to encourage particular increments (e.g. thousands)

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