Currently we have a buffer that is 256MB of data. Displaying all that at once is out the question since it will take a long, long time. I thought of dividing the 256MB in chuncks of 64MB each, then divided it in chunks of 8MB, this makes opening 8MB a lot faster or acceptable (2.4 minutes). The user interface should allow the user to select one block of data 64MB (256MB divide by 64MB), then it should allow the user to select one of the 8MB (64 MB divided by 8MB segments).

I thought of creating a rectangle with four squares each of them marked as 64MB, and below of it another rectangle with eight squares representing each 8MB. This will allows the user to select certain area of the data, but I'm not sure that this is the must acceptable presentation. Your feedback will be appreciated.

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    We may need to know a bit more about the circumstances: how will the user know which 64M-block is right for them? Is there a different measurement more appropriate for the domain (like time?) Jul 21, 2013 at 18:32
  • Sam, maybe it's just me, but I cannot digest more than 3-5 numbers at a time, let alone 8 or 256 Megabytes. Please consider explaining your use case and how you plan to present this much data to the user. Jul 21, 2013 at 19:09
  • 256 / 8 = 32. Can you not just list the blocks in a table?
    – Brendon
    Jul 21, 2013 at 19:31
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    "each of them marked as 64MB"?! Unless your users are exceedingly technical, it's best to hide the implementation details from them. Jul 21, 2013 at 20:05
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    Our users are very technical, and they will view the 8MB buffer containing thousands of packets that are transmited from a port. They will use Wireshark to examine the packets and data looking for issues in protocols such as IP etc. The start/stop of TX packets is captured in a 256MB buffer. My idea was to have the user select the first 64MB, which will be parsed in chunks of 8MB for faster viewing, then have the user select the 8MB segment.
    – Sam
    Jul 21, 2013 at 22:38

2 Answers 2


According to your description, what I got is that you want to represent the 64 MB of data in a proper format and that too in less size of 8MB's each.

One suggestion is that you can display the blocks of 64 MB's each (of total 256 MB). Let the blocks of 64 MB should be divided into 8 blocks of 8 MB each. (if possible). When the user will click on any 64 MB block, then all the 8 MB blocks are also displayed. After selecting the 64 MB block, user can select the smaller 8 MB block to view its detailed description.

Or you can give the facility to the user to hover over the 8 MB block to just view the contents.

This solution is according to one of the Norman's principle of good design : Interface should include good mappings that reveal the relationships between stages

  • Yes, that was the idea. This interface was going to set the select 64MB block, and the 8MB block segment with the same color as to show their selections. But is this a good way of doing it?
    – Sam
    Jul 21, 2013 at 22:46
  • @Sam : Yes, you can use this idea and it is a good way. According to one of the Human Computer Interaction Principle please keep in mind that Users believe on : Recognition rather than recall. So if you display this according to your color conventions user may find it easy to use and recognize. Jul 22, 2013 at 4:46

Your UX problem is a consequence of a technical problem, which is that the process of opening a buffer takes a long time.

If you stored the data in a properly indexed format, you would be able to quickly load only the data that is to be displayed on the screen at the moment. (I'd recomment an embedded database engine like SQLite for this.)

Of course, converting the capture buffer into a database will also take a long time, but this needs to be done only once.

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    It may be a technical issue, but it's been posed on a UX site requesting User Experience solutions to this issue. Your answer of 'index the data properly' - while probably correct from a technical point of view - doesn't answer the question about how to deal with this issue that is happening from a User Experience perspective.
    – JonW
    Jul 22, 2013 at 7:58
  • I agree with the answer and the cpmment. But I also believe that some UX problems should be solved by solving the technical problem that is causing them - where the problem has a technical cause, ofcourse. Jan 19, 2014 at 1:12

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