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I'm building a workflow application in which users are assigned to tasks. Each task has a large number of fields which can be of various types, e.g. dropdown, textarea, or even data grids they can edit (we use Ext-js as a frontend framework).

Users can write comments on tasks by using messages in an activity feed. Recently, they've been asking for an opportunity to write specific notes/comments related to a specific field or a specific row in a data grid.

How to do this in a way that does not completely clutter the UI with buttons/ comment panes etc.?

I've thought about the following options already:

  • Giving every field/grid row a "make comment" button and show comments per field/row

  • Centralizing the commenting, e.g. by tagging field names in a message

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I really like the approach that medium.com took.

If a user comments on a paragraph, a little speech bubble appears next to it. Click on it to expand the comments. If you want to add a new comment on your own, hover over the paragraph in question and you'll see the bubble appear.

In your case, it could look like this:

How it could look like in your case

This gives a very clean impression if nothing is expanded, but still shows you that comments have been made as well as that you can add your own.

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