The Design of Software (CLOSED)

A public forum for discussing the design of software, from the user interface to the code architecture. Now closed.

The "Design of Software" discussion group has been merged with the main Joel on Software discussion group.

The archives will remain online indefinitely.

Capturing Dates and Times from users

A page on our site requires users to enter a date and a time.

The alpha version uses a combination of text input boxes and dropdowns. It captures the information but feels a little low-tech.

I've seen some sites that use Javascript components to display a pop-up calendar prompting users to click a date which then auto-fills text input boxes.

Q1: can anyone suggest a site that implements the best of these JavaScript implementations?

Q2: can anyone suggest a practical alternative approach to displaying a pop-up calendar?

Q3: does anyone think the text box approach is the best approach.
Carl Roach Send private email
Monday, March 14, 2005
Flickr does it quite nicely - try editing the date of one of your photos.  You get a text box, with a javascript calendar popping up underneath.

Monday, March 14, 2005
We've been using a technique of displaying an editbox for a date and a button labeled `...' to open a new window with a calendar. Addtionally the calendar allows you to select only the dates from a valid period, while in the editbox you can type whatever you like (this is validated on submit of course). This works nicely giving the users a choice if they want to `type it' or `click it'.

Recently I found out that the more experienced users like to type while the less experienced like to click. The time to open new browser window (from 0.5s to 2s) may have some impact on this also. And when the date you want is in some distant future or past you may need several clicks to get to it. So users learn rather quickly that typing is almost always faster that clicking.

So my opinion is that an editbox is a must (considering some people have JS switched off) and some pop-up calendar is a nice addition to it.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Anonymous hero
Monday, March 14, 2005
If you're working in ASP.NET, check out It's ugly, but very good.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Thanks for the feedback; I agree the offering both input boxes and GUI is a good idea.
Carl Roach Send private email
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
It depends on how often users have to enter the dates. If it's a place they visit occasionally the popup might be useful. But if they're doing data entry and have to enter dates repeatedly they will want a single text box with no dropdowns, popups, etc. Fingers should never leave the keyboard when doing data entry.
Anony Coward
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
And don't make the ellipsis "..." button that pops up the calendar be a tabstop.

Experienced users entering dates "by hand" won't want the button and will be irritated at having to press Tab twice to get to the next entry field, and inexperienced users don't use Tab anyway.

I HATE sites that make you tab through every single seldom-used control to finish them.  Design your tabstops for experienced users, to minimize keystrokes.
Karl Perry Send private email
Wednesday, March 23, 2005

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz