In my project I basically have an arbitrary number of items with some properties that are organized in groups. The user can select items in a group to perform certain actions on them. He can also delete items or move them to a different group.

I have experimented with different layouts:

My first approach was to use a List with groups in it like in this picture (I got this picture as an example from http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/7050/ListView-Grouping-XP-Style ):

enter image description here

While this basically worked it presented problems (especially implementation wise, but this doesn't matter here) if each group contains a lot of files. I had to present a group browser along side of it to jump to a specific group, because it was very painful to search the group in the long list. Hence I didn't like this design.

The next idea I had was a Tabbed design, with one Tab for each group: enter image description here

This works as well but may present difficulties if

  1. There are too many groups
  2. The groups names become too long

The third idea I have and right now like the best is to show a Single Table with a combobox at the top to select the group: enter image description here

Selecting a group: enter image description here

This makes the groups clearly laid out and simple to select, hides the irrelevant items and should not have problems with long group names.

Now I wonder if there is a better way to show groups of data that is convenient to use or a standard way of doing things that the user is more familiar with?

  • 1
    If every item is exactly in one group, a collapable treeview should work too.
    – CodeManX
    Aug 12, 2014 at 0:05

1 Answer 1


Grouping items might not be the solution here. Instead allow the user to filter and show only the group he/she wants. Your third idea could be fine but I would add the possibility to search for a group.

If browsing and grouping is the way to go, I think that the way the iPhone handles large lists with grouped items is a good one to consider. The category name stays on top until another category scrolls over and replaces it, and an a-z index allows to jump quickly to different locations in the list. I used your first example to illustrate this (hope it's clear enough).

enter image description here

  • Thank you for your answer. The groups I have don't work well with sorting (you couldn't know that from my question). They represent some stuff in a certain syntax and I am contemplating even using images instead of text to show them. Otherwise your approach would be good and I will think about adding a search function as well.
    – Jens
    Aug 12, 2014 at 15:00

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