I am using the top row of an HTML table as a 'copy down' control row. So you can over-ride the values in the rows you've selected below (each row has a check box - similar to the phpMyAdmin interface) when you click a button in the top row that says 'Copy down'.

enter image description here

However if you don't only want to over-ride some of the values the other boxes have to have some way of showing that they are not-applicable.

  • All the inputs are numbers in text boxes
  • I started by just putting 'n/a' in the text boxes
  • This didn't work as it can be confused with not available which is a valid thing to copy down
  • currently they are just blank by default - but there is now a problem as the rows below will now also have blanks in them by default. So the blank value could imply setting the inputs below to be blank.

enter image description here

  • 1
    can you put screen-shot of phpMyAdmin interface functionality or your application for which you have the question to help me understand more as i am not familiar with phpMyAdmin. Sometimes picture is worth thousand words.
    – N30
    Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 17:34
  • unfortunately I don't have enough reputation to put up an image or a link.
    – icc97
    Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 12:04
  • @N30 after a couple of years I now have the reputation to add the images :)
    – icc97
    Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 8:25

3 Answers 3


If there is a cell that needs their attention, I would change it's color until a valid value is added. If there is a specific action that suddenly makes several cells invalid, I would alert (not necessarily a javascript alert, there are nicer ways to handle that) to that and change the cell colors.

  • Thanks for this I think it is the closest to what I am looking for
    – icc97
    Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 12:05

If you are only concerned with the UI and not the difficulty of programming the behavior, you may want to try encapsulating the entire copy down action into its own state. This way all cells will look the same until a user intends to copy down. This is the flow I'm thinking of:

  1. User clicks the "copy down" cell
  2. Column becomes highlighted (background color change or something similar)
  3. Apply button appears at the top and bottom of the column
  4. User is able to click table cells in the column to toggle whether they should be overridden or not
  5. Once user is satisfied with which cells will be updated, user clicks the apply button.
  6. Values are updated, apply buttons are hidden, and styles revert to a normal table

This way the table isn't bogged down with styles meant specifically for special case actions. If implemented correctly, the cells that were toggled the first time the user used the "copy down" feature should remain toggled the next time the user uses the feature even if this isn't apparent until the states switch.


Can you put a lock icon that's toggable next to the cells you want to allow the users to lock down.

Or, can you just gray-out (disable) the Input field?

  • thanks @taudep, I like the idea of an icon, but the field shouldn't have a read-only look to it - since they might want to edit it.
    – icc97
    Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 15:12

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