Bug 139019 - Unnecessary dialog box when attempting to sort single-column (or row) data
Summary: Unnecessary dialog box when attempting to sort single-column (or row) data
Alias: None
Product: LibreOffice
Classification: Unclassified
Component: Calc (show other bugs)
(earliest affected) release
Hardware: All Linux (All)
: medium trivial
Assignee: Not Assigned
Keywords: needsUXEval
Depends on:
Reported: 2020-12-18 02:24 UTC by oss
Modified: 2021-02-17 19:27 UTC (History)
1 user (show)

See Also:
Crash report or crash signature:
Regression By:

Sorting column B or row 10 triggers dialog, but column L or row 13 does not (8.56 KB, application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.spreadsheet)
2020-12-18 02:24 UTC, oss

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Description oss 2020-12-18 02:24:19 UTC
Created attachment 168274 [details]
Sorting column B or row 10 triggers dialog, but column L or row 13 does not

Whenever attempting to sort a single-column or single-row group of cells when the corresponding cells in the next and previous column/row are not empty cells, an annoying dialog box appears telling "there seems to be data on the other cells too, would you like to expand your selection?"

While it is merely an annoyance, passable by a single click on the proper button,  when one needs to do several "small sortings" on the same sheet and have to tell the software everytime that "no, choosing just these particular cells and nothing outside them was not an accident but an intentional decision, thank you", it starts to feel a real nuisance. Kinda like the feeling when an animated paperclip thinks it knows better than me what I am trying to do ;)

I have also seen this dialog box in a same situation in an age-old version of openoffice.org calc so I assume it has been originally made intentionally, but is there an actual need for this dialog box? If not, I assume removing it wouldn't be too hard. And if there is, would it be too hard to include a "don't show this again" checkbox etc so the ones who see it too often and don't feel it serves any purpose, could just get rid of it?
Comment 1 Mike Kaganski 2020-12-18 06:19:45 UTC

A contiguous cell range normally represents a set of data arranged into columns/rows (a table). It's a common mistake that people don't realize that sorting a single column in such a data set would ruin the relations between data in records. The dialog is really needed to most of users, including both basic users, and often even advanced users.

If one wants to work with independent sets of data on the same sheet, where data in columns does not form records in rows, it's easy to arrange those sets into separate "tables", e.g. by leaving an empty column between those.

Having a "do not ask" checkbox here seems really unnecessary, like "I insist in doing things in a confusing way, creating contiguous ranges of unrelated data" - which of course you are free to do as you please, but then it's unfair to require to introduce UI just for that conceptually incorrect way of doing things, so that everyone else is presented the introduced UI (and then someone unexperienced, who might need the dialog, might unintentionally disable it, and suffer).

Asking UX advise.
Comment 2 Heiko Tietze 2021-02-01 15:20:33 UTC
The confirmation dialog to extend the range is a convenience and safety feature, as Mike commented in c1. And what would be the default answer if we add the "Don't show again" checkbox? I also wonder about the use case. Doesn't it mean you have a sheet with independent rows or columns that still stick together. Adding an empty spacer row or column solves the problem.

sc/source/ui/view/cellsh2.cxx lcl_GetSortParam(), AbstractScSortWarningDlg
Comment 3 Heiko Tietze 2021-02-17 19:27:40 UTC
No further input, following Mike's WF suggestion.