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Here's the scenario: The user is on a screen where they are able to change several settings. Any changes in the UI are immediately committed (there's no edit/save interaction).

The question: One of these settings is to choose a logging level from a set of options. What's the best way to represent to the user these options? We currently have a drop-down, but the interaction doesn't make it clear that something is changing in the back end.

Also of note: This is not a web site. This is for enterprise software.

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    Can you provide a screenshot/mockup?
    – Mervin
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 18:42
  • I don't understand why "the interaction doesn't make it clear that something is changing in the back end." It acts like all other options in the screen, doesn't it?
    – dnbrv
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 19:37
  • @dnbrv Yeah, perhaps you're right. Maybe I'm just not used to this paradigm. Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 20:27

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In your scenario, you're doing the right thing by avoiding drop down, because some browser fires an "onChange()" event when you hit arrow up/down key, while other browser requires you to hit enter key to fire the "onchange()" event. This is particularly important to note when your screen lacks Save button.

So I guess your only other logical choices would be radio buttons or pills.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

An alternative would be to use radio Button Groups in Bootstrap framework. http://twitter.github.com/bootstrap/javascript.html#buttons

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