On our windows product we display large searchable grids, with a large number of columns that can be reordered, sorted, and filtered. This is a fairly common method on Windows (explorer for instance) -- but on the iPad I can't seem to find a solution that meets the same need without just putting Windows "grid" * type list there. -- The need: quickly view large amounts of data, sort and filter.

* Windows Forms GridView Default Layout.

  • 4
    What exactly do you mean by a 'Window's grid type list', and what's wrong with that solution? What else have you looked at, and why didn't it work? Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 16:43
  • 2
    Perhaps some illustrations / screencaps would help us understand your problem. Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 18:46
  • Also, what is your concern with using what you call a "Windows 'grid'"? Are you looking for the equivalent Apple idiom, assuming one exists? Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 15:05

2 Answers 2


The problem here I see is that you're trying to transfer desktop experience to the mobile device, which definitely a wrong idea (Apple with iPhone and iPad showed that clearly by inventing their iOS which as we could see has a completely different paradigms behind).

The solution I suggest is to try to rethink the whole idea behind representing data in your app, keeping in mind all the restrictions and possibilities of the mobile OS'es (like smaller screen size, touch input, ability to use horizontal scrolling or change orientation, etc) and figure out how you may use it for better user experience.

Specifically, I think that instead of showing the whole grid of data you should provide users a simple way of choosing the information which is important for them (a way to choose which columns are visible or not, or let them easy manage and switch different views, for example, let people reorder columns not by drag and drop, but with reorderable lists, etc).

It's also possible to use different representations of the data, like charts, which could be useful for its analysis.


If you have a large amount of data to display, your number one priority should be it's consumability.

If you need to display data on a mobile device, I would consider using an open source reporting tool with native iOS support. I have used jaspersoft's reporting suite, http://community.jaspersoft.com/mobile for internal tools.

Taking dense, complex data beyond sorting and filtering is a challenge, but the most important point is that you allow your users to come to the best conclusions. It is not about restricting your users to the filters you think they need, it's about letting them create the filter they need to get the information that makes sense to them.

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