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IGNORE THIS BLOCK
We have a grid, each row represent a pending download. By default, downloads will proceed top-down, first row first, second row after that, etc.

We want to put a column in the grid with a symbol/icon/button suggestions inside
so the user can use that control to say: i want this row to be transferred after first row, and then this... in other words, priorize transfer order overriding the default 1 to N order.

NOTE: sorting rows is not an option. Order has other implications and has to be kept as is.

Here´s a mock of the existing gui i am trying to improve.

The user adds items (hard covers, chapters, index, maps, etc) to build a book. The table can be sorted, and this will change the items order in the book.
As the user adds one item the app begins to download additional info (this process is sometimes a bit long). Let our book be: front cover, index, chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, back cover. We add the proper items...

enter image description here

And the transfers begin automatically.

After a while, item 1 has succesfully downloaded its info, so item 2 begins to download info too.

enter image description here

Now guess chapter 1 and 2 are approved and has no recent changes, so no need for further inspection. but Chapter 3 and Back cover are the ones we want to check before approve the hole thing.

So we want to instruct the download queue to first download Hard Cover, and after that proceed with Chapter 3. Otherways we have to wait for previous transfers to complete while doing nothing because we dont need the info.

We want this to happen:

enter image description here

My question is:

How can i redesign that "Waiting" column so the user can intuitivelly know that download queue can be altered? Which controls/icons (instead of the "Waiting" label) are best suited for that?
I´d like that someone that is facing the waiting problem could say: Cool, if i click/use this i can alter the download queue and prioritize the items i want most !

Feel free to add a column, replace Waiting label with buttons, icons...
Any suggestions welcome.

  • If a user can't see the rows in order of priority, I think the priority thing has already failed. – plainclothes Apr 7 '16 at 20:02
  • @plainclothes row order represent chapters of a book, which is the real deal here. Before the user can see details of items/chapters he/she has to wait for the download to happen, the point is, if i am only interested in inspecting the details of item 10, i dont want to wait for 9 detailed info downloads to complete, to be sure item 10 is ok, so i want to change the download order. – Nomada Apr 7 '16 at 20:15
  • Could you show some mock-ups of the problem? – Mayo Apr 7 '16 at 21:03
  • If I were you, I would simply add a new column after the "Description" one, called "Priority" and make it interactive: e.g. for each cell insert a drop down in which you can choose the priority (low, medium, high). Making a row a high priority one, would alter the download order by putting in wait the ones with a lower priority. This way, the user can see very clearly that the he controls the download order. To better understand me, take a look at Bittorrent / uTorrent. You can choose the download priority of files inside a torrent, so you alter the download queue. – Phreak Apr 8 '16 at 13:54
  • Does system know the chapters 1 and 2 are approved already, and chapter 3 should be approved? – Alexey Kolchenko Apr 8 '16 at 19:14
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Apple faced a similar issue in their music app--but not with downloads, instead with play order. They solved it by allowing the user to "Play Next" or "Add to Up Next" which is just a queue that the user was allowed to modify.

I feel like this is along the same lines of what you're trying to solve: There is a default order of events, but you're allowing the user to intervene.

Something like this perhaps?

Perhaps have a download modal or something where a user can select and reorder the chapters they would like to download.

  • Important distinction (if I understand the OP correctly): iTunes maintains two separate lists: The album / playlist order and the music queue. You can add to the queue from the playlist, but they are two separate things. As I read the question, we're talking about the queue here. – plainclothes Apr 7 '16 at 21:24
  • @plainclothes yes following the iTunes example we're talking about the queue. I feel that current GUI is like fast forwarding an old cassette as the only way to listen to last song after the first song has ended. – Nomada Apr 9 '16 at 10:40
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Determine focus

What is the priority of the UI? In your question you state,

each row represent[s] a pending download ...
downloads will proceed top-down

Based on that, the table represents a download queue.

In your comment you provided this additional information

row order represent chapters of a book, which is the real deal here

That sounds like secondary information that is easily represented by numeric value.

The requirements

So each row is made up of these pieces of information (as I would prioritize them):

  1. Download order
  2. Chapter title (presumably)
  3. Chapter sequence
  4. Chapter summary (for bonus points ;-)

In the default state, the book downloads by chapter according to the actual order. In your scenario, the user is concerned with altering the download order. The challenge is to make that simple and readily apparent.

Here's where I'd start.

This solution is focused on showing the user what the chapter is about (title and summary) and letting them drag/tap the download order to whatever sequence they like without losing visibility of the "proper" reading order.

A rearrangeable download queue for book chapters

^ Prototype it, user test it, iterate it.

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