I am building a web application for managing a list of products (using jqgrid).

I need my users to be able to perform several 'bulk actions' on whichever products they select. I have copied Gmail (and others) in that as soon as one or more rows are selected, more options appear at the top of the grid (see mockup).

selected rows

These bulk actions will be performed in one or more modal boxes.

What I can't decide is how best to split up the bulk edit options.

Do I:

a) have each bulk actions option as a separate modal; one for changing the category, another for changing the price, another for changing the type, etc.

b) Try to get all options into one screen (see iTunes example)

c) Some combination of the two - e.g. separate modals for categorizing products, changing branch availability, but lumping some other fields (like price, tax codes, min/max order numbers) into one modal.

I am leaning towards C, but then the next issue is how users can edit just one attribute (e.g. price), without changing another attribute which is on the same screen (e.g. tax code).

iTunes has attempted to tackle this problem in their info screen when multiple songs have been selected, but I don't feel they have done a good job of making this intuitive (i.e. it's not clear what the checkboxes are for, and if I leave blank fields blank will it remove info for all selected files?).

itunes bulk edit

Does anyone have examples/thoughts on a different/better way?

UPDATE: I have decided to keep each kind of edit separate as much as possible (each with its own link/button, like in Gmail).

There are a couple of examples where two or more fields will need to be put together, e.g. 'price' and 'cost' (if the cost changes, 90% of the time the price will need to change too). In which case I will do something like this:

price and cost

  • 1
    GMail seems to have this sort of an interface...with a set of selected conversations, you can take a number of different actions via pull-down. The ability to shift-click to select multiple items at once is very nice as well. So is a keyboard interface to navigate quickly.
    – cdeszaq
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 21:34
  • Quite right, cdeszaq. Gmail are sort-of doing option a) as described in my post. Each option is a separate link. Some of them are grouped under a dropdown button, some of them are separate buttons, some open a modal and others just do stuff straight away. But either way, each option is separate. This means they don't have the UI challenge of giving users a mix of stuff they want to change and stuff they want to leave as-is. Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 21:46
  • 1
    I'm not sure I understand your last part about changing some stuff and leaving other stuff as-is. Isn't that the purpose of the check boxes? Or do you mean "editing fields of selected entries"? If so, I may simply be confused by the screenshot you are showing...
    – cdeszaq
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 22:01
  • Sorry if I wasn't clear. Here's an example scenario: I have a table of 100 products. I select 10 products for which I want to change the tax code. I click a edit button and a modal comes up with several fields in it (e.g. price, tax code). How does the user NOT change the price? How to we make it clear that they won't if they don't want to? Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


I would suggest to do the bulk edit in a dialog that is similar to a "detail view" dialog. I.e. a dialog that shows all fields for a given item/record.

When you use this dialog to do bulk edit, you mark each field that contains various data with [various value] and the fields that contains equal values are set to the actual value.

The user may edit all fields, and the edited fields is then marked as "edited" (either visually, or you just keep track of this internally).

When the user exits the dialog and saves the changes, only the edited fields are saved, and the new values are applied to all items/records, of course.

(The check boxes can be removed from these screen shots.)
enter image description here

enter image description here

  • Warning against removing the checkboxes: What if you start editing a [various value] and change your mind? Or how does a user tell the difference between a field they never edited (which won't change data) and a field they blanked out (which will change data). Canceling the action will be the only option, which isn't very user friendly. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 20:13
  • @Nathan, that could be a valid point. I do believe, however, that this action is an "expert-action" where the user is very focused and determined on what to do. Jumping back and forth is not likely in this dialog. FogCreek has developed a similar solution for FogBugz (help.fogcreek.com/9141/…). I use this software on daily basis, and I had to double check how "Undo"/"Cancel" was solved. It turns out that "Undo" is not possible, you need to "Cancel" if you change your mind. I have never considered this to be a problem, but ymmv... Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 20:55

From your prototype:

  1. I feel first column can be removed, you can give link for product name

  2. Then, you are asking about bulk edit. First we need to identify the type of users and their scenarios. Always product name, price & tax will be different from other product. So IMHO is we can give option for separate edit option for each row.

  3. You are specify the link name "details". this is not a details that is edit (it can be solved if you give product name as link)

  4. I am using invoicing software,there is no bulk edit option for items. Though this is not my use case too.

  5. We can give bulk option for (delete, inactive, create another entity using these items....)

From popup image:

  1. We can remove the checkbox to edit. He know came for edit only, why we give two click to users? Just show the two text boxes (price & cost) and "save" button.

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