I have an unusual question regarding how displayed data should look as opposed to how to code the solution. I really don't know where to ask this.

I have a table that contains settings for a web application and an admin page where these settings can be updated. Some of the settings contain values (ie. days_to_display = 5) and some of them are just straight up boolean values (ie display_days = true). So I have setup my table as follows:

id(int), date_created(date), key(text), value(text), enabled(boolean)

I also want each setting to be able to be individually disabled. So my database would like such:

1    |     <date>     |    rule.days.to.display     |    5     |    T
2    |     <date>     |    rule.display.days        |  <null>  |    T
3    |     <date>     |    rule.hide.sunday         |  <null>  |    F
4    |     <date>     |    rule.start.of.week       |  Sunday  |    T

Here's an example of what it looks like: http://prnt.sc/azuwyl

I cannot think of a cleaner way to show the combination of text and boolean values together.

Just for completion: Java backend, Tomcat, JSP pages, PostgreSQL database

2 Answers 2


I see several points where your solution can be optimized:

  1. The most important column in your table is setting state. If a setting is disabled the rest of the values are irrelevant. Therefore, I suggest to put that column first.
  2. The most common way of displaying boolean values is checkboxes. So you may use them instead of true/false. If you want to go a bit more fancy dim/gray out inactive settings. Also you may try an option with led-indication instead of checkboxes (see below).
  3. I suggest to make all settings editable in place, rather than providing an edit button. User can start editing by clicking a value in the table. Finish editing by pressing enter/leaving the cell/clicking done button - choose whatever sounds more appropriate.
  4. If possible use names optimized for human reading, not machine names.

So in the end you may have something like this:

enter image description here

  • Thanks, I'm working off of existing code on a project that I took over and was hoping to keep things consistent in the UI (other areas use the edit buttons with a modal to input changes) but in the end I think I'll just go with a more modern approach like your examples
    – Chris
    May 5, 2016 at 3:13

Take a step back and look at how a calendar with similar parameters abstract the database information into a UI.

enter image description here

Instead of a like-for-like view on the database, work out what you're letting the user do, then build the UI around that.

So instead of 'how do I display both string and boolean?', the question becomes 'what is the layout of the options the user has?' which hopefully is a slightly more approachable problem to solve.

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