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A bit more on Icon Sets – answers to Biff’s and Harlan’s questions

Since a few of the comments that were made on the last post  were more easily answered with pictures, I thought I would just go ahead and make a new post out of it.  (I have answered the other comments in the comments section of the previous post.)

  1. Biff commented “That 2nd screencap with all those icons applied looks like a real mess. I would not want to see that in any of my spreadsheets.†

Actually, Biff, my example wasn’t the greatest – that is not how I suspect that most people will use Icon Sets in the wild, it was something I created rapidly for illustrative purposes.  You may have noticed that there was an option on the Icon Set Formatting Rule dialog to “Show The Icon Onlyâ€.  I suspect we will see a lot of that – in the internal reports and documents we have seen from dogfood use around MSFT and our beta participants, I would say that 75% of what we see is just the icon.  Here are a few examples.

2) Harlan commented “I think the bigger problem is that the icons appear left-aligned in the cells. I’d be surprised if most users wouldn’t associate the icons closest to the numbers with the numbers. A quick glance makes it appear that the value 35 for Measurement 6 in column One has an associated exclamation point rather than a checkmark. 

I don’t see how icons would be useful without aligning themselves with their corresponding values more closely than with the contents of adjacent cells. Given that it’s also useful to have the icons align with each other in each column, the ideal would seem to be for icons to align to the left or right of left or right aligned cells and automatically indent the cell contents to make space. Treat centered and the other horizontal alignments the same as general: align icons on the right for numbers and on the left for the other types (and for general, change cells’ horizontal alignment to right or left as appropriate for the cells’ type and indent).

This raises the question how these icons would align vertically if they were in cells that wrapped to multiple lines OR were in rows with greater than needed row height. They should either match cells’ vertical alignment or always be centered.â€

Good feedback – the folks on the feature will think about it.  Again, I suspect that either the numbers wont be shown, or they will be a column of numbers that are easily identified with the icon (as in the above examples).  In the final implementation, the icon will line up with the text in a cell, and the icon will follow the cell’s vertical alignment.  Since Icon Sets can only be applied to numerical values, so text wrapping will not be an issue.