"Intelligent" Date Picker

Posted on 2010-01-14 02:26 UTC by Brad Grigor. Status: Under consideration, Categories: Office, User Experience.

The N900 uses a scrolly "Rolodex" or "odometer" style date picker for Tasks and Events. This paradigm, perhaps inspired by the iPhone and other "touch" devices, may be simple (i.e. it has no intelligence and was probably easy to code) but it is also inefficient (i.e. often requires excessive effort to reach the required outcome) and ineffective (i.e. doesn't address typical date picking requirements).

This brain storm is calling for an improved date picker to become either the default common method or an optional method that can be enabled via Settings. This improved date picker is called the "Intelligent Date Picker".

The default date picker has the following problems and the Intelligent Date Picker should address some or all of them:

  • Day-of-week. DOW is often the main factor in choosing a date. E.g. need to schedule a meeting for next Tuesday. Or, a club meeting occurs on the 4th Thursday of the month. The default date picker does not show the DOW of the highlighted date.
  • Typical Day, Week and Month navigation. The default date picker makes it difficult to complete the following common tasks:
    • Go forward or backward by weeks. E.g. move the meeting back 2 weeks.
    • Add/subtract 30, 60 or 90 days to/from a date. E.g. the quote expires in 90 days, what date is that?
    • Jump to the first/last day of current month, next month, previous month, quarter or year, etc. E.g. to jump to the first day of the current month requires a swipe, maybe two, then touch the "1". If the odometer "bounces", user might touch the wrong day number. It's a similar process to find the last day of the current month. For next month or previous month, there is the additional step of touching the right month, then perhaps several swipes to find the right day number.
  • Keyboard is not used by the default date picker. This is a waste of good hardware. Perhaps the arrow keys could be put to good use.
  • Continuous date scroll, i.e. press & hold and dates just continuously increase (or decrease). In the current odometer paradigm, the sections of the date are decoupled so a continuous sequence of dates is not possible. The Intelligent Date Picker shouldn't have this limitation.
  • Additional information while selecting a date. To facilitate the user, some additional data describing the current selection can easily be displayed. E.g.
    • Day of Week
    • Day of Year
    • Week of Year (useful for planning vacations)
    • Number of days before (or after) the initial date (the initial setting in the date picker supplied by the application)

Talk thread is here:

Solutions for this brainstorm


Solution #1: "Album Art" paradigm

Posted on 2010-01-14 02:57 UTC by Brad Grigor.

As much as it pains me to proposed something Apple-ish, I think there is merit in adapting the iTunes/iPod-style cascading album art paradigm as a date picker. Here's how it might work:

  1. In the middle of the screen is a largish card showing the current date selection. The card contains useful information, e.g.
    • Year
    • Month
    • Day of Week name (Monday, Tuesday, etc.)
    • Day of Month number in large point size
    • Day of Year number
    • Week of Year number
  2. On either side is a series of tiny cards, each contains the Day of Month number, representing days before and after the current selection. Each card is large enough to be touched. Touch one and the whole display scrolls left or right so that the touched card becomes the large current selection in the middle.
  3. Ideally, there are always 7 cards on the screen, representing a rolling week of dates.
  4. Above the tiny cards is a Month bar that identifies the month/year of the tiny cards below it. This bar updates as the cards scroll left or right.
  5. Also on the current selection (large card in the middle) is the "Done" button. Touching it confirms the selection and closes the dialog. Or perhaps the whole card is the "Done" button.
  6. Swiping LEFT or RIGHT will jump BACK or go FORWARD by one month.

There are a number of options for navigation.

  1. Touching the first card to the LEFT of the middle card goes BACK one day. Pressing it down initiates a scroll backwards. The longer you hold, the faster it goes. (Same is my Bose Wave Radio time set buttons).
  2. Toucning the first card to the RIGHT of the middle card goes FORWARD one day. Holding it also initiates a scroll forward as above.
  3. Touch the area just beyond the last card to the LEFT will jump BACK by one week. Holding it initiates a scroll backward by weeks.
  4. Touch the area just beyond the last card to the RIGHT will jump FORWARD by one week. Holding it initiates a scroll forward by weeks.

Other navigations are possible. I will try to mock up a visual of this and post it.

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