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Suitable alternative to trackbar control

In our application, there are settings that have a high dynamic range (e.g. 0-10000 in steps of 0.1). I am in need of a UI to adjust these using touch control only and limited screen space, since this appltcation is running on an embedded device.

What we tried so far and found lacking:

  • a standard slider (not sensitive enough)
  • buttons like +0.1, +1, +10, +100 (require lots of clicks or lots of buttons and are deemed unsexy by marketing)
  • a centered slider controlling the velocity of change, i.e. pulling the slider to the right makes the value increase (testers found this difficult to grasp)

Are there any tried and true ways to do this?

  • See if this question helps: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/23454/… Aug 1, 2012 at 14:29
  • Is this in addition to providing a regular input-field where user can just type in the value using keypad?
    – Jung Lee
    Aug 1, 2012 at 20:04
  • No, instead of. I do not have space on the screen to display a keypad.
    – Jens
    Aug 2, 2012 at 6:32

2 Answers 2


I can't comment on the technical side of this - that might be a question fro Stack Overflow - but for a UX perspective I think the most obvious way to do this on a touch screen is a touch-and-hold with a scale of sensitivity.

Strange example I know, but the only place I can think of this being used is on treadmills at the gym. The speed increments are 0.1 if you press the button to go up. If you hold it, the speed will increase by 0.1kmph 3 or 4 times, then 0.5kmph a couple of times, then 1kmph.

As you're looking to use touch controls the user doesn't need to go looking for the functionality if you use this approach. They will natrually press and hold to go up (some may multi tap) unlike the other methods where the user has to first figure out what to do.

Just so I know I've read correctly, is 10.000 meant to represent 10.00 or 10,000.00 - i.e. if your increment value is 0.1 do you have 100 potential values or 100,000 potential values?

  • Thanks for the input. I actually meant 10000 (ten thousand). English uses dot and comma the wrong way around from my countries perspective. =)
    – Jens
    Aug 1, 2012 at 12:37
  • When I use such controls, I have a tendency to overshoot my target, often more than once in different directions, which frustrates me. But that may be just me.
    – Jens
    Aug 1, 2012 at 12:40
  • Yeah you're right that does happen - but you usually end much closer than 0. Not ideal, but better than holding and watching 0.1 become 9999.9!
    – TJH
    Aug 1, 2012 at 12:41

If it's that hard, why don't you consider a simple numeric keypad?

1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
. 0 <

And they can use any increment they want :)

But yes, touch-and-hold is also a possible solution, just like microwave ovens do.

And any way make sure that there's a confirmation step, exactly because of the overshoot.

Or go logarhythmic, those who want 0.1 increments might not want to set it to 0.1 degree...

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