I'm displaying an overview table of items. The items have a:

  • category
  • a date
  • additional, domain-specific information that needs to be displayed in the same view

On the overview list, only one item is shown per category. The most interesting, from the user's point of view, is an item in a given category that has the latest date, but no later than the current date.

For example, suppose that today is 2015-08-26. Our datastore looks like this:

  • Item 1, Category A, 2015-04-12
  • Item 2, Category A, 2015-06-30
  • Item 3, Category B, 2015-07-12
  • Item 4, Category B, 2016-11-15

(the most user-relevant ones are bolded)

However, it is also important that the user is made aware of items with dates in the future.

Regarding ideas for a UI to present the situation described above, ones that come to mind are either:

  • provide a filter view for showing "future" items.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • or mark categories with "future" items in some way (including a relevant mouseover).


download bmml source

None of these feel perfect, however.

So, what would be the optimum way to present such data, given the two constraints (temporal relevance, and presence of "future" items)?


4 Answers 4


It wasnt made clear if they only need to know if there are future items or if they need to know what these items are. I'll go under the premise that they do. It's also not clear why this is important.

I'll add a bit of data to your example.

Item 1, Category A, 2015-04-12 Item 2, Category A, 2015-06-30 Item 3, Category B, 2015-07-12 Item 4, Category B, 2016-11-15 Item 5, Category B, 2016-11-17

So here you have an on-demand tooltip that would show all the future items.

enter image description here

And with the checkbox you can include all the future items. If the grid has filtering and sorting options I can quickly analyse data by filtering on category B for instance and have a timeline of future items in that category. Or I can filter by date etc...I think this gives your power users more flexibility. Maybe the tooltip is not there anymore when the checkbox is checked. I always try to give my users opportunities to use data in ways they didn't realize they could. The tooltip is nice for a quick overview. The checkbox gives the option to work with the data. enter image description here


The language in your wireframes doesn't seem to match how you're explaining things. It sounds like the thing a user needs to do to get from the full table to the "most interesting" view, is hide future dates.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Regarding the communication of future items, rather than mark every item, you could make future dates bold, or a different color, and explain that somewhere else in the UI.

  • Sorry, that was perhaps unclear. What I meant is that the "first-class citizens" in this view are categories - it is intended that your are able to drill down from this view to per-category lists, so a category should always be shown if an item for it exists. Edited the question slightly, hopefully the intent is clearer now.
    – mikołak
    Aug 26, 2015 at 10:56
  • This still doesn't really clear things up for me. Your question says "On the overview list, only one item is shown per category" but in your example you have two items from Cat. A and two from Cat. B
    – dennislees
    Aug 26, 2015 at 12:56
  • Ah, I see where the confusion is. The first list is meant to signify the status of the example datastore, and not the interface itself.
    – mikołak
    Aug 26, 2015 at 13:49
  • I'm sorry. I'm usually quick to get this kind of thing, but I'm still not clear. What exactly is the user try to do here? What action are you trying to enable? Also how many potential categories are there? Could you try to re-ask the question in a less complex way?
    – dennislees
    Aug 26, 2015 at 20:42
  • 1
    I'm happy and interested to continue helping, but I still think that it's too complex a series of interactions to solve from your wireframes and explanation. Your vocabulary isn't the issue, it's just that you're describing concepts that need to be unpacked more. It says a lot that your question title reads like name of an article from the Journal of Quantum Psychology ; ) A good next step might be to make things more concrete, by either showing what the UI currently looks like, or creating a more complete and realistic wireframe. That way the actual problems can be visualized.
    – dennislees
    Aug 27, 2015 at 15:54

Okay. If I am reading this correct: items appear in the client-side database, they have a name, date (of creation or access), some metadata, maybe amount. The user need is to follow the right items availability.

A simple date filter would allow your users filter data by date and filter out future only or existing items only.

enter image description here

Marking future items with some icon or a colored row highlight will not help users to sort out all the future things at once, but it won't hurt, either. I'd keep it, too.


After reading the comment thread on dennislees' answer, it seems like we have a table that's trying to do too much.

There are two items of interest for the user. - What's the the most recently "delivered" item for each category - What items are scheduled to be "delivered"

It'll make sense to break this up into 2 separate tables


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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