This is quite similar to this question, but not quite the same.
I have a widget--to be called Widget 1--in a desktop application that is a combobox/dropdown, which is a field that allows you to type in it, but also has a button that drops a dropdown that presents choices. The user therefore can either type right into the combobox, or choose on of the choices. (I am hoping to add auto-completion for typing as well).
I've recently thought that it would enhance the utility of the application if the choices could be organized in about 5 or so different ways, depending on the use case of the user. Those could be alphabetical, or in a tree structure by category, or in other ways (below I just show some example adjectives, like "alphabetical", "chronological", etc).
For this reason, I want to have a way for the user to choose the way in which Widget 1's dropdown contents are organized.
What is the best way to do this?
For now, I have a second widget--Widget 2--to the right of Widget 1. Widget 2 is a standard choice widget that allows the user to choose the way Widget 1's dropdown contents are organized.
And both of these are immediately above another section of the GUI, a list control.
See these two images to quickly get the idea:
Although this layout has some advantages (the user can immediately see how s/he has the organization of the choices, and the dropdown and its text is clear as to what it does, I think), it looks, to me, really clunky and ugly, and possibly misleading, in the context of the whole GUI. (For the sake of brevity, I'll leave out why). I also think that although the user's being able to select the way in which Widget 1's dropdown contents are displayed is a good thing for the application, it's usually not the main focus of use, and should not take up much visual real estate--certainly not as much as Widget 1 itself.
So, then: What other ways might be better? I was thinking of the following options:
- A small button to the right of Widget 1. User clicks it, and it presents a popup menu from which the user can choose the way Widget 1's dropdown contents are organized.
- Right clicking on Widget 1 presents that popup menu.
- That menu is in the application's menu bar, under a menu header something like "Values display" (get a better term!).