30 Essential Controls

February 4, 2009 — 28 Comments

This is the second article in a three part series on patterns and principles for RIA design.

      Standard Screen Patterns: 12 patterns w/100 examples
      Essential Controls: 30 controls for RIA design and development
      Components for Commonly Requested Features: 15 patterns and examples

Every designer has a set of controls they rely on to communicate an effective UI. This is my library of essential controls.

30_essential_controls

Unfortunately, no single RIA framework offers all 30 of these. So I included a checklist of which frameworks provide each control. If you have an addition or correction, please e-mail me, and I will post an updated framework/control matrix.

ria_frameworks

The frameworks reviewed include: Flex, Laszlo, Silverlight and 12 Ajax frameworks and toolkits: ExtJS, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, SproutCore, LivePipeUI,IT Mill, Backbase.

01. Auto Suggest

auto_recomend

Google’s Auto-Complete

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, IT Mill, Backbase, Silverlight.

02. Carousel (variation as Coverflow)

carousel_ex

Carousel Prototype carousel widget

Supported by: YUI, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, ITMill, Backbase, iCarousel

coverflow_ex1

Coverflow MediaEvent Service’s Slideflow

Supported by: Flex, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, RadControls for Silverlight

03. Charts & Graphs

graphchart_wesabe

Charts Advanced charting features like hover details, drill down, rolling windows, toggle views…

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery (SWF/Chart), MooTools, MochaUI, Backbase, SilverLight, AnyChart, Dundas, JPowered, JFreeChart, OpenFlashCharts, Flot, Plotr, PlotKit, WebFX, AjaxMcGraph, Measure Map.

04. Collapsible Panels (accordion, disclosure triangles, slide drawer)

collapsible_accordion

Accordion Mutually exclusive collapsible panels showing status

disclosure_arrows_mint

Disclosure arrows Mint.com uses disclosure arrows for summarizing and displaying accounts

collapsible_sliding_fluxiom

Sliding panel Fluxiom uses a sliding panel instead of a dialog to show the selected photo’s details

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs (called panels), Dojo, Google Web Toolkit (disclosure panel), Prototype/script.aculo.us (accordion), JQuery, MooTools (accordion), MochaUI (split pane), SproutCore (split pane), IT Mill, Backbase (accordion), RadControls for Silverlight (PanelBar and Sliding Panel).

05. Combobox (select multiple, alternate list box UI, editable)

combobox_multiselect_livepipe1

Select multiple LivePipe UI’s control takes less space and is easier to scan than an ocean of checkboxes

combobox_multiselect_ex1

Alternate listbox UI Best alternative for multi select in small spaces, clearly displays all selections, and provides an easy way to edit

Supported by: Alternate Listbox UI, LivePipeUI

combobox_editable1

Editable combobox Editable combobox allows for lookup and/or text entry

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools (MUI.ComboBox), IT Mill, Backbase, RadControls for Silverlight.

06. Date Picker/Calendar (select range, date/time combination)

datepicker_jquery

Advanced calendar Select a range, discontinuous dates, or exclude a certain day

date_time_picker_ex3

Date/time picker Select a date and time in a single control

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJS, Dojo, YUI, JQuery, Scal built on Prototype, MooTools, MochUI, IT Mill, Backbase, Silverlight, dhtmlxCalendar, keyboard accessible calendar, more examples on Woork

07. Dialogs (modal, light weight, lightbox)

dialog_modal1

Modal dialog Mint offers a modal for adding an account

dialog_modeless

Modeless dialog Google Maps provides a modeless dialog for getting directions

dialog_lightbox_jquery

Lightbox JQuery provides a lightbox plugin, a modal dialog that blacks out the parent screen

Supported by: Flex(modal), Laszlo (modal and modeless), ExtJs (modal), Dojo (modal and lightbox), YUI( listed under Containers: Modal and Overlay), Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery (modal, modeless, lightbox) , SproutCore (has a really nice example of each under ‘panes’), MooTools, MochaUI, LivePipe UI, IT Mill, Backbase (modal and modeless window), Silverlight (modal and lightbox).

08. Docking

ria_frameworks

Dockable menu Campaign Manager by eyeblaster offers a pinned/unpinned menu for navigating between campaigns

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, LivePipe UI, Backbase, Silverlight.

09. Drag & Drop Manager

drag_drop_extjsdrag_drop_extjs_drop

Drag and drop ExtJS photo organizer demo

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, LivePipe UI, Backbase, Silverlight.

10. Dynamic Filter

dynamic_filter_flex

Dynamic table filtering Flex offers a filter feature that dynamically filters the results while the user types, demo

dynamic_filter_rico
Dynamic column filtering Dynamic filtering can be implemented at the column level providing advanced filtering capabilities
Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, JQuery, IT Mill, Backbase, Silverlight, Open Rico

11. Feedback/ Status

ria_frameworks

Feedback Gmail status message

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, LivePipe UI, IT Mill, Backbase, Silverlight

12. Fisheye/ Spotlight

fisheye_alpslab

Fisheye Apslab Fish-eye Lense

Apply this concept to a dense chart or map for a truly useful feature.

Supported by: Flex, ExtJs (spotlight), Dojo , Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, Silverlight

13. Gauges (and other visual progress or status indicators)

gauge_citibank
ria_frameworks

Gauge Thermometer gauge in RadControls for Silverlight

Gauges provide a concise visual summary in heads-up-display or other goal directed designs

Supported by: Flex (various plug-ins and Flex Charting), ExtJs (combined with GWT), Dojo, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery (SWF/Gauge), MooTools, MochaUI, Silverlight, AnyChart, Dundas

14. Help Tip/ Quick Tip

help_tip1

Quick Tip Picnik engages new users with some helpful advice

More than just a tooltip, these are fully formatted messages typically presented in a modeless dialog.

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI (use overlay container), Google Web Toolkit (use popup panel), Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, LivePipe UI (use window control), IT Mill, Backbase, Silverlight

15. Hot Keys

ria_frameworks

Hot keys Balsamiq Mockups has hot keys for frequent actions

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, Mochui, LivePipe UI, IT Mill, Backbase, Silverlight

16. Hover Action

ria_frameworks

Hover action Instead of cluttering the screen with redundant actions, Basecamp reveals the edit and delete actions onHover

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, YUI, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, Backbase, Silverlight, good post by Bill on hover actions and missed moments

17. Hover Detail

ria_frameworks

Hover detail Netflix hover details

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI (overlay), Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools (smart hover box), IT Mill, Silverlight

18. Inline Edit

inline_edit_flickr

Inline edit Instead of showing form fields in pages that are usually read (not edited), Flickr provides inline editing

Supported by: Flex (only in the grid), Laszlo (only in the grid), ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, IT Mill, Backbase (only in the grid), Silverlight (only in the grid)

19. Progress Indicator/ Loading

loading_picnik

Progress indicator Picnik loading indicator

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, LivePipe UI, IT Mill, Backbase, Silverlight

20. Rating

rating_graffletopia

Star rating Graffletopia offers one-click star ratings for shared stencils

Supported by: ExtJs extension, Dojo widget, Starbox for Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools , MochaUI

21. Record Locator/ Paginator

record_locator_lls

Record locator Like the control in PDF Viewer, the record locator lets you navigate through records in a dataset or skip to a specific record by name

paginator_yahoo

Paginator Typically used for paging through tables, screens, or other result sets

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, LivePipe UI, Backbase, Silverlight

22. Slider

slider_innography

Slider Innography provides sliders in their quick filter for refining results displayed on a chart

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, IT Mill, Backbase, RadControls for Silverlight

23. Scoped Search

scoped_search_vimeo

Scoped search Like iTunes, allows for the optional selection of a category before entering free form search text, example from Vimeo’s help page

Supported by: custom css and js code, example at Janko at warp speed, RadControls for Silverlight

24. Sparklines

sparklines_retailmenot_goodcouponsparklines_google_analytics

Sparklines Great way to show the “shape” or trend of data is a small space, examples from RetailMeNot.com and Google Analytics. Created by Edward Tufte.

Supported by: Nuby on Rails, Any Chart, JQuery plugin, Flex , and two more ones for Flex at Microcharts and Birdeye, Google API, Visifire for Silverlight

25. Table/ Data Grid ( scrolling, editable, grouped)

table_scrolling_extjs1

Scrolling table Endless scrolling, no paging, just like a desktop app, example from ExtJS

table_cell_editing_blist1

Editable table Blist offers inline cell editing in their products. Best practice, highlight the selected row, and only display an editor in the selected cell. Don’t forget to accomodate keyboard navigation.

table_grouping1

Tree table Grouping by row, displays as a tree table, example from ExtJS

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, Backbase, Silverlight

26. Toolbar

toolbar_sugarsynctoolbar_flickr1

Toolbar Provide actions in proximity to the object, examples from SugarSync and Flickr

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, Prototype/script.aculo.us, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, Backbase, RadControls for Silverlight

27. Vertical Browser

vertical_browser_apple

Vertical browser Apple’s vertical browser for exploring Dashboard widgets

Supported by: custom code of multiple list boxes

28. View Toggle (buttons, button bar)

view_toggle2

Toggle buttons Separate buttons for switching between graph and grid views Campaign Manager by eyeblaster

view_toggle_paypal

Toggle button bar Single button bar for capturing binary choices

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, Dojo, YUI, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, Backbase, Silverlight

29. WYSIWYG Editor/ Rich Text Editor

wysiwyg_wordpress

Rich text editor WordPress offers a a WYSIWYG editor for blogging

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, Dojo, YUI, Google Web Toolkit, JQuery, MooTools, MochaUI, IT Mill, Backbase, Silverlight

30. Zoom

zoom_jqzoom

Zoom Zoom in on a certain spot, example from jQZoom

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs (spotlight), Prototype/script.aculo.us (zOOm), JQuery, MooTools (Joomla), MochaUI, Silverlight (silverZoom)

Bonus- Desktop Style Container

desktop_container_otherinbox

Desktop style app OtherInbox built with SproutCore

A desktop style container isn’t actually a control, but frequently required when developing enterprise software and productivity web applications. Many of the frameworks that offer this feature include built in windows management, split panels, and fluid layout.

Supported by: Flex, Laszlo, ExtJs, YUI, JQuery, MochaUI, Backbase, SproutCore, Silverlight

Send me any corrections and/or additions, and I will upload an updated control/framework matrix.

Thanks to Joonas Lehtinen of IT Mill, Ryan Johnson of LivePipe, and Peter Svensson who is a Dojo expert, and Darren James, co-author of Ajax in Action.

Update* Cody Lindley at jQuery provided a

28 responses to 30 Essential Controls

  1. 

    Very nice work, im starting on Flex and this is very useful. I need to know how to get all this components in one way. If you have them, can you help me sending me a link of a tutorial or some to use them?

    Thanks! and good work!

  2. 

    Nice article !

    WHAT about internal frames ?

    or that you put in containers category ?

  3. 

    This is too awesome for words. I would French-kiss my sister for a set of these in an OmniGraffle stencil.

  4. 

    We are very excited about SproutCore and would like to build a complex web application using SproutCore. Our goal is to build an advanced “Thick” client browser based product to deliver a “desktop-like” User experience. Can you recommend a strong development group who has experience with SproutCore to help us create it or could you recommend someone to act as a consultant to help us select the right offshore development team and define the requirements correctly?
    KT

  5. 

    For #22, I’ve been trying to find a toolkit that has the dual sliders for specifying a range. All the ones I’ve found are single sliders. Can you point me to a dual slider version like innography?

  6. 

    B.Z.- JQuery has a dual slider:

    http://jqueryui.com/demos/slider/#range

  7. 

    thanks for sharing all these examples. a great resource you have here.

  8. 

    @theresaneil,

    Thanks for that link… the jQuery control is definitely a dual slider. The slider I’m looking for needs to also allow you to click and drag from the middle. So let’s say you set the range from 50 to 150, you could slide it up from the middle and it would move both ends, say up to 70 to 170 simultaneously.

  9. 

    @B.Z.,

    Sounds like a scrollbar

  10. 

    Lovely designs,

    ¿Where can we get them to start using?
    ;-)

  11. 

    How can I get these tools?

  12. 

    Would love to see this list updated for 2010.

    • 

      Glad you asked! It is coming up on UXBooth in the next week or so. The list now numbers 43! I don’t think I actually started using 13 new controls, just paid closer attention to what I’m using and what I have seen in the most recent web apps.

  13. 

    Would it be possible to include a matrix in the 2010 version?

    Features on one axis, Ajax Products on the other.

  14. 

    COOL!, very useful and nice examples. I´m flex developer and looking for any samples, do you recommend any other?
    greatigns..

  15. 

    I don’t understand what use have this list if it doesn’t have links to the controls examples, or anything like that

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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