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I'm working on an app where we'd like to use a slider, but it's quite possible that when the user opens the modal that we don't really know what the range of that slider should be. Or, put another way, let's say we have a modal that when the user opens it the default range of the slider goes from 0-1... however, let's say the user will actually need a much larger numeric value and so they will need to manually modify the range to actually make the slider go from 0-1000. What I'm researching is the best and most intuitive way to make that process as seamless as possible.

Obviously, you could have a separate dialog for setting the min/max of the slider. Or even text inputs on either side of the slider for setting those values... but is there any sort of UX pattern for dynamically setting the range of a slider?

This is the closest example I've found for something like this, but I'm not convinced this is the right answer. Are there any other examples that show a slider like this?

EDIT The app I'm working on is a desktop application (Windows and macOS) which performs geometry manipulations. The use case is a command which Fillets an edge or surface connection. So, when you enter the command, a popup modal dialog appears and there is a slider which lets you interactively control the fillet amount for the edge or surface connection. The problem is that the fillet amount could change dramatically depending on the scale of the 3d model. If you've got a very small part, then the fillet amount might be 0-10mm. If you're working on a airplane wing or skate ramp, then the fillet amount might be 0-5000mm. So, you don't really know what the fillet amount should be when the modal dialog first appears and thus it's difficult to specify a min/max for the slider.

dynamic slider

Animation source: https://read.pixelapps.io/dynamic-range-slider-in-flutter-4749cd98c100

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  • This slider is a terrible example. The whole point of rendering the control visual is to quickly communicate the boundaries. If they are unknown, no arbitrary boundaries should be suggested. The visual presentation of such boundaries is simply misleading. It sounds like a range slider is simply not a suited control type for your use case.
    – Andy
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 15:25
  • Is there real time feedback as you manipulate the controls? Can you see the outcome as you tweak?
    – Mike M
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 19:03
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    "...text inputs on either side of the slider for setting those values..." This seems the most straight forward. Is there a reason not to do that? Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 12:46
  • Yes, you do get real-time feedback on the fillet while you're moving the slider... hence why I was thinking a slider would be the best input device for this. Secondly, yes, we thought about text inputs or even number spinners on either side of the slider, but I guess the original question was just to see if there were any better options out there... something that is dynamic yet still intuitive.
    – andyopayne
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 20:05

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It sounds like a really strange use case, because when you say that you don't really know what the fillet amount should be when the modal dialog first appears and thus it's difficult to specify a min/max for the slider, you still need to provide a value for the command to fillet an edge or surface connection. That means somewhere in the background you need to provide a value for the magnitude of the edge or surface connection, so where does this come from?

From what I can tell, it sounds like you could solve this problem in a couple of ways, depending on your exact requirements and what the ideal user workflow looks like.

  1. Allow users to adjust the magnitude of the scale instead of actual min/max values, so start with any default value (preferable based on some sensible input value) and have a way to scale it up or down. This could be an input field with an update button like "increase/decrease by" x %
  2. Provide the feature to adjust min and max value of the slider, but make it clear to the user that you are editing the min/max value rather than the value you want them to set the slider. The best way is to think of it like a questionnaire app where you are setting the value of a slider question category
  3. Create a workflow where you set the min and max value based on a user input first, like a selection of the region where the edge or surface connection first, and that populates the slider control with sensible min and max values

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