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I have an extension tool for Microsoft Visual Studio. It provides meta data for code lines (which is retrieved from external source code) and helps developer to resolve bugs faster.

I have doubts whether to display empty lines on tooltip when there's no data to display. For instance: watch the following empty fields (marked with an arrow): Description, Labels, Source version etc.

enter image description here

In this example there's data to display (see Labels field): enter image description here

What would you suggest and why?

  1. Leave it as it looks now?
  2. Leave the empty fields but mention "NONE" text? (e.g. Labels: NONE)
  3. Remove the empty fields (so size of tooltip might be shrinked)?

Thank you

  • Think about actual cases where one of those fields is empty. Is it useful for the user to explicitly know that there's no source version, target version, etc? Or are those fields usually blank because that information isn't relevant in the current context? In other words, if a lack of information is itself informative, then you should have the blank lines there. If the fact that they're blank usually means that they don't matter, then consider leaving them out. – octern Jan 3 '16 at 6:03
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First of all, are all the fields provided in the tool-tip necessary? Is there any chance that the number of fields be reduced? If yes, keep them concise.

On the other hand, if all the fields are necessary. Let's see it like this:

For link1, the user sees all the fields in the tool-tip. For link 2, there is some information missing (which means that the value is NONE). Now, there is a chance that the user will get a bit confused if it does not appear in the tool-tip. And the tool-tip is not consistent. If you are showing metadata using a specific set of values, I would suggest to keep it that way. Option 2 would be consistent throughout.

Another way to see your question is "Do tool-tips require consistency". Here consistency would matter since they are of the same group (the links belong to the same type).

So, thinking based on this, option 2 seems to be a good choice. Also, instead of NONE you can use something similar to "empty" or "no-value". NONE does not sound appropriate.

Some more information on tool-tip:

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-in/library/windows/apps/hh465476.aspx

Hope I could help with some thoughts if not the solution.

  • 1
    I agree! In addition to your advanced and clear explaination, I'd say: it's more prefered to find the label you're looking for (empty or not) rather than to see if the label you're looking for might be missing and thus being empty. Scanning a list is quicker when the user recognises the label he is looking for, rather than checking if that label is missing or not. – Max de Mooij Jan 2 '16 at 23:06

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