I have an application in which there is a filter bar. These filters are clickable labels. After clicking one, this label becomes a editable.

Recently, we added functionality to use variable names in the textfield e.g. '$CURRENT_USER$'.

When the filter is in label mode, it shows the actual value (for example 'RobAu'). This looks good, but now I arrive at my problem: how to tell the user that a variable is being used instead of a hard-coded value?

As label: enter image description here

As textbox: enter image description here


I want to display the actual value of this filter, so the user can visually match the search results from looking at the filter (instead of having to translate 'CURRENT USER'.). Although, maybe that is not necessary?

The user now gets an unexpected change (from RobAu -> $CURRENT_USER$), and I though it would be a good idea to have an indication on 'RobAu' so you know it will change to some variable name.

  • I'm not quite sure I understand the question, is RobAu a hard-coded value? If so, what is the value of doing it like that, as a user this is confusing as there appears a different text than provided; why not show a veriable name in a different visual representation (e.g. purple box under a white text labeled "current user"). This way you can keep a screen-friendly name (like current user), as you could now "replace" the purple square with a variable dropdown... or something
    – Xabre
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 10:43

1 Answer 1


My suggestion would be to make no compromises, as a user will more often find it hard to remember a certain variable name, so I'd look at what is known already.

First of all, as the user types stuff, some autocomplete helper could kick in and provide suggestions.

enter image description here

Than, if the word actually is a variable name, I'd simply visually show this e.g. enter image description here

When editing, it could look something like this: enter image description here

This way, it never changes, and one could figure out who the current user is. If not, you could always make it more verbose by putting it at the end of the variable name, between brackets. e.g.

Instead of "current user" we now have "current user (RobAu)" in either edit or view.

Again, I wouldn't change the content to something completely different or to a technical, hard to remember name; it's all about user expectations.


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