Bug 90440 - EDITING : Unhide of columns improvements
Summary: EDITING : Unhide of columns improvements
Status: NEW
Alias: None
Product: LibreOffice
Classification: Unclassified
Component: Calc (show other bugs)
(earliest affected)
Hardware: All All
: medium enhancement
Assignee: Not Assigned
Depends on:
Blocks: Cell-Management
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Reported: 2015-04-03 18:22 UTC by Laurent Lyaudet
Modified: 2020-04-26 16:12 UTC (History)
4 users (show)

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Crash report or crash signature:


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Description Laurent Lyaudet 2015-04-03 18:22:27 UTC

It is currently hard to unhide columns in Calc by dragging the column separator line between headers.
It needs pixel precision to distinguish between two actions : change width of previous row and unhide next row.
I think the ergonomics of hide/unhide column should be improved.

The same functionnality in Excel is done by two column separator lines spaced by a few pixels and it is much more user friendly.
However, I want to propose another solution to correct:
- the difficult ergonomics needing pixel precision,
- and the fact that you cannot unhide columns in any order by dragging: if there are more than one column hidden between two columns you have to drag/unhide the last hidden column then the preceding column and so on.

Since we need handles to drag columns limits, I think whenever one or more columns are hidden between two columns, there should be some icon.
Maybe just a small colored circle
or a triangle like V  (poor ascii art attempt :) )
above the limit between the two visible columns.

You could click this icon to expand a small "popup" of handles for hidden columns.
Without using the "popup", the behavior would be unambiguous :
a)- change the width of column previous to the column line separator by dragging
Using the "popup" would give more possibilities :
b)- unhide each column separately by a click (the width of the unhidden column would be the max of previous non-zero width and some constant for a minimum width)
c)- unhide each column separately by dragging

Alternatively, since the limit between the two visible columns around the hidden columns is already bold, one could click the limit instead to open the popup (thus no icon would be required).

It provides new functionnalities because :
- Selecting cell/range with Menu/Format/Column - Hide/Show.
- Selecting column(s) before+after the hidden column(s), right-clik Show, or Menu/Format/Column - Show.
Both alternatives unhide all hidden columns between the two visibles columns.
You can also right click the limit between the two visibles columns and choose unhide but this alternative has the same problem of pixel precision than the actual dragging and doesn't permit to unhide in any order.

In summary we need : 
- handles for the continuous feature of unhiding by dragging and 
- buttons for unhiding with the original width
I'll try to give an idea of the popup :
- two layers : upper layer is for buttons (rectangular), lower layer is for handles (ellipsoids)
    _   _
   |H| |I|
    _   _
   (H) (I)
    \   / (on this line I tried to represent some branch from the ellipsoids to the limit)

Let me know what you think of it.

Best regards,
   Laurent Lyaudet
Comment 1 raal 2015-04-07 16:08:55 UTC
UX team, please take a look.
Comment 2 Heiko Tietze 2015-04-08 08:12:15 UTC
I fully agree that hiding columns is weird right now. Laurent's idea would improve the interaction. Compared to Microsoft's two-pixel/two-cursor solution it is easier to handle but adds clutter. Not only columns but also rows are hidden, for instance when an auto filter is applied to the sheet.

To me it makes no sense to set width/height to zero in order to "hide" something. This leads to the strange effect that filtered rows are shown after resetting their height, for instance. So why don't we fully hide col/row with no direct access to width/height? In order to unhide I'd suggest a function "show hidden row/col/cells" similar to "show non-printable characters" that temporarily displays hidden content, at best grayed out a little bit.
Comment 3 Yousuf Philips (jay) (retired) 2015-04-11 22:56:24 UTC
Agree that this is a problem and the it should be easier to drag unhide columns. Excel's simple solution is to have a different mouse icon appear when it will effect the hidden column than resizing a visible one, which seems like an easy fix.

When i wish to hide a column, i normally right-click on the column header and click the hide entry in the context menu, so for me, the logical means of unhiding it is selecting the column before and after the hidden column and clicking the unhide entry in the context menu.
Comment 4 Xisco Faulí 2020-03-09 13:29:04 UTC
Please add keyword 'needsUXEval' and CC 'libreoffice-ux-advise@lists.freedesktop.org' if input from UX is needed.