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Sorry for the weird title (I have no idea how to describe it better). Right now we have a user interface for showing specific dates in a tabular way, for example:

Name date                   May 1, 2014
Another name                May 3, 2014
Yet another name            May 9, 2014
Name 3                      May 15, 2014

This is working "fine" at the moment, but in the next version we would like to display the difference between the two dates as well, so someone had the idea to display it like this:

Name date                   May 1, 2014
Another name                May 3, 2014     +2d
Yet another name            May 9, 2014     +6d
Name 3                      May 15, 2014    +6d

So, basically this idea contains the difference between the date of the previous row and the current row. For example, the difference between May 3, 2014 and May 1, 2014 is 2 days (hence the +2d).

However, I'm asking myself if this is a good design. I'm questioning myself is displaying this is as tabular data is still a good idea or not (because now we have "inter row data" as well).

However, I'm not finding a better way to represent the data either, so I was wondering if there's a good practice to display such data and if showing it as tabular data is still the right way to represent it.

  • Can you give more details about the use case for this? What is the purpose of displaying the difference in dates? What does the user learn from seeing this information? – Franchesca Apr 30 '14 at 9:05
  • Well, some of these dates are part of a period. This means the date could be indicating the start or end of a period. So, the duration (+2d) is actually representing the length of the period. – g00glen00b Apr 30 '14 at 9:21
  • How do the "names" relate to each other? – Franchesca Apr 30 '14 at 9:42
  • Some of the names are like "Start vacation" and "End vacation", so they are related, however, other names could be "Birthday Steve". Though, business wants to show the term duration for all dates (even when they're not related). – g00glen00b Apr 30 '14 at 9:45
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If you prefer to display it as a table, I would use table headers. You mentioned that dates could be related to each other. It's better to combine those dates to one, so each subject has it's own row.

Subject | Date | Duration
Birthday Mom | May 6, 2014 | Whole day
Vacation | May 11, 2014 | Till May 29, 2014
Meeting | May 13, 2014 | 12:00 - 14:00

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The most intuitive way to show how dates relate to each other on a timeline is to use some kind of date grid, where your rows become squares in the grid.

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or if the dates are close together you can have rows for each name, and then a square indicating date. The relationship will be obvious then.

enter image description here

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