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Our company provides a digital signage system which will allow users to associate a 'lifetime' with pieces the content they create to display on digital signs.

When scheduling is switched on for a slide, we reveal two inputs: "Start date" and "End date". These are date time inputs which can be completed by entering text (numbers), or by clicking the associated calendar picker button.

The scheduling system requires either a start date, an end date, or both. If no start date is provided then the content is already active, if no end date is provided the content will remain active until it is manually removed. Otherwise the system decides.

The question:

Should either of the date inputs allow selecting dates that are in the past?

More specifically, should it be possible to select a start date that has already passed?

Note that we do have validation which will display an inline error message if the end date selected is before the start date, and additionally we present a dismissable warning prompt before saving a piece of content if it will never be active again (i.e. the end date is in the past).

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From what you've described, it doesn't sound like there's much point to selecting a start date that is before the current data, as it'll result in the same effect as not selecting a start date at all.

If no start date is provided then the content is already active

So I would assume that the same would happen if they select a start date in the past.

Whether you should prevent them from doing this, that's the tricky question. One comment practise is to disable dates that are in the past in the date picker, that way the user won't be able to select one.

Something that would be helpful is to have some helper text associated with the start date picker to help the user understand that they only need to select a date if they don't wish for the content to be displayed immediately.

I hope this helps.

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