Lets say we have a group of devices (A, B, C). These devices have the group config settings:

location: USA

color: blue

Now I take device B and individually change its location to Canada. Now I go back to group configuration and change the color to red. What should be the final device B configuration be? I see two options.

  1. Location: USA, color: red- Device B takes the most recent group configuration and updates the device, overriding the individual changes.

  2. Location: Canada, color: red- Device B takes only the changed data (i.e. color) and ignores the data that is not changed (i.e. country)

Option 1 seems to be simpler, as if there's any mismatch between individual and group configurations, group configuration overrides all of them.

Option 2 seems to be useful in cases where users want to keep their individual changes while being able to update other fields. The issue is, what do I show in the UI of group configuration in this case? Should location show "USA" even though 1/3 devices are in Canada?

A possible solution I have is to have the group configuration UI have blank fields if any of the devices have different values, but I'm not sure how intuitive that is to the user. They might feel they have to update all the blank fields instead of knowing that they are blank because their devices have different values.

  • Does changing the config settings remove the item from the group? If the group is USA, then changing the config to Canada should remove it from the original group right? Commented Feb 15 at 9:28
  • @Parrotmaster No, item stays in the group even if the individual values are different. Given the number of devices we are working with, automatically removing a device from a group after an individual change would be very difficult to keep track of. Also, the user may want to change color: red to all 3 devices, but not update the country to all 3 devices.
    – Gene
    Commented Feb 15 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


Since as you said the device stays in the group, the result should be Location: Canada, color: Red. But you should probably go one step further:

What you wanna avoid is losing device-specific changes when a group is altered, so you have to keep track of when a fields value is different from the group.

If the device field is the same as the group field, then changing the group field changes the device field. If the device field is different from the group field, then changing the group field doesn't change the device field.

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