In a hierarchy, e.g. for inventory management or in an org. chart, does anyone have an example where the user can control the flatness, as in the example below, with feedback confirming the usefulness of the feature?

enter image description here

It would be particularly valuable if the example had associated research confirming whether or not the development effort paid off in terms of user satisfaction, time saved for expert users, or similar.

  • 3
    We do, though StackExchange is set up to award only one person with the "correct" answer. Can you edit your question to tell us about the problem you're trying to solve, and you'll get the right solution (vs. a bunch of screenshots)? Thanks!
    – Izquierdo
    Nov 9, 2022 at 14:39
  • @Izquierdo, thanks, I have tried to reformulate
    – bjornte
    Nov 10, 2022 at 9:27

2 Answers 2


As for examples, Angular makes a grid control that supports grouping rows under an attribute by dragging the attribute's column to a drop zone.

Grid with top bar saying "Drag a column header and drop it here to group by that column

MS Outlook also supports grouping emails with Group By and Arrange By features (I don't know the difference).

As for whether they are worth it or not, I've never seen a user use these features in Outlook. It seems that sorting and filtering features cover whatever purposes a grouping feature may serve. However, a colleague of mine has seen a substantial minority of users rely on this feature in a particular web app.

Grouping might be useful for comparing rows in groups sorted far apart. The user can "close" all groups in between to perhaps put both rows simultaneously in view in a the pane. However, a user can more quickly achieve that capability if the grid includes a horizontal split feature.

If your grid has a lot of columns, grouping can be a way to remove columns so the user can see all remaining columns without horizontal scrolling. However, this can also be achieve by a feature that allows users to re-arrange columns so the ones they need to see are all together.

When grouping is used, it seems to be by users who are handling many rows of data especially where the rows are split across many pages of results (e.g., 100s of rows at 10 rows per page). Given that paging through a list is just a pain (compared to scrolling), grouping might be a way to fit all data of a certain attribute value on the same page that otherwise would be split across pages, making it difficult to find or compare rows of the same category. The utility of this advantage depends on how your grouping works with paging.


This post on SO refers to a service where the data is normally ordered hierarchically, but where the users sometimes want the structure flattened to be able to sort on specific metadata, and have the rows represented irrespective of where they belong in the hierarchy.

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.