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Let's say there's a panel with some information in a View state. If the user engages its Edit mode, everything becomes interactive. Some of the interactive components are checkboxes and radio buttons.

The checkboxes / radio buttons shouldn't be perceived as interactive in the View state, because the user might try to engage them, and it's read-only. But using disabled checkboxes and radio buttons doesn't seem correct, because it communicates that changing the value is unavailable to the user, when all they have to do is engage Edit mode.

There's an example in Material showing a check if an item is selected, and just a blank label (no component marking) if it's not selected. The thing that feels weird about it to me is when you'd show a group of checkbox options with nothing checked - just a cluster of labels. Is it better to be explicit about items that are unselected, such as with an X icon? Or is leaving it blank fairly understood now?

An image from Material showing checked selections

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It looks like you approach this from a technical perspective. You mentioned a panel with information that can be edited. The solution that there should be some kind of edit mode suggests that it can switch state between an edit and a view mode where the latter shows the same content with all the options in read only state. This is convenient from technical perspective: Just enable the options when in edit mode. But what is the use of having a view mode this way, would the edit mode not be enough? From a user perspective how is this "informative panel" being used or read out? If you think about that, the view mode will make more sense when it is made more informative by showing only what is relevant. If the user is interested in the current state, show only that. The possibility to change it can be nearby the current setting, even if that leads to the same edit panel.


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In edit mode you can show all options that are available. Check-lists without anything checked should always have the affordance that it allows checking items. You should therefore always show on/off switches or good old checkboxes/radio-buttons. But if the options are read-only or only informative, ask the question how the user is better served instead of showing disabled, greyed-out options (or like in your Material example giving no clue at all).

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