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There are multiple ways to approach your problem. But first of all, I'll give advice that cannot be given often enough: Get rid of clutter first. Especially in a "data intensive" environment. The rule of thumb here is: If you have more than about 7 columns you're doing it wrong. Look at every column, find out if you actually need it and come up with ...


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Constraints The root of your problem is that your system involves 3 states, two of which has functionality constraints (the non-manual sorts). As such, your task is to convey the constraints to the user in an optimal way. One (of many non-optimal) options I can think of is to have drag handles that will be greyed out in non-manual sort. But this requires ...


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UPDATE: Tog already replied to a similar question at Ask Tog. I agree with JonW. Although this might seem redundant, it supports browsing and searching in a graceful way, without getting in the way. Another interesting side effect is that it provides a better way to browse than an scroll bar would. Instead of having to scroll until you find a visual cue ...


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I have reservations about "answer"ing this, since as user @Izhaki points out, it depends so much on the context - one cannot really say what looks best without seeing.. anything. That said - I would suggest that any more than 7 is starting to become untidy. How do I arrive at that number? I recall that on average people can perceive 7 distinct entities, ...


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Searching is only practical with a large number of contacts. Scrolling is more practical with a small number of contacts. To facilitate the middle ground where you might only have a small number of contacts, but too many to look at each name to figure out which letter you're on there's this rolodex style annotated scrollbar.



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