I have a set of features that adjust style of the graphs. They set existance, colors and size of the element. I must be able to apply size and existance to all the graphs. But I don't want to apply colors to all (otherwise it will be hard to distinguish the graphs). I can't figure out how to do it best. The checkboxes on the prototype work for visibility. I alredy changed them on the eyes.
It would be helpful to try out this application to get a better sense of the flow. Is there a demo or prototype somewhere online?
My suggestion would be to follow the common pattern that a property side-panel changes based on what objects are selected. Go check out Photoshop or Sketch, they do it the same way. You can then avoid a big 'apply' button like that and those checkboxes — things will become self explanatory, because a feature becomes enable or disabled. But you'll have to support/polish a multi-select feature, like shift-click.
So it goes a little something like this:
- While graph 1 is selected, all properties in the panel can be changed and any changes will update the graph.
- While graph 2 is selected, all properties in the panel can be changed and any changes will update the graph.
- While graph 1 & 2 are selected, all properties except the colors can be changed and will update the graphs.
You could even go further if you have different types of graphs. Certain types get certain properties in the panel, etc.
Something to think about
What if there are users who would like to have all their graphs in the same color?
I understand the reason you want to protect users from the situation where it all becomes one single color mess. But you can choose to allow it anyway.
As long as a user has other ways of selecting graphs (like those tabs in the bottom?), he/she can figure it out. You'll avoid some confusion and questions on the coloring-all-graphs-the-same-color part, but you might get confusion about other areas in return.
It all depends on the type of users and their most important goals with the application.
Edit: new suggestion: split into separate panels
After you posted your comment, here is another approach. You could split the functionality into separate panels, to avoid confusion. In the colors tab a user can select a graph from the dropdown, or I imagine he/she can click the graph on the canvas. That way it would be clear what the result of the color changes will be.
As you can see I've changed the visibility toggles too. The combination with the nearby 'Apply to all' button was a bit unfortunate. User might think that the checkbox determines what will be changed (like I did :-). I've changed the checkboxes into custom icons for visible status and moved to the right so the 'properties' of a graph are bundled and the checkbox-confusion is avoided.