Any downside with SPComplexToSimpleDropdown?

Jan 12, 2012 at 5:15 AM
Edited Jan 12, 2012 at 5:53 AM

I find complex dropdowns in sP forms difficult to handle, and converting them to standard dropdowns looks like a convenient workaround.

My question: in which cases would the conversion be a bad idea?

[Edit] I meant to do this when building cascading drop-downs, not systematically.

Jan 12, 2012 at 5:43 AM
In my opinion: when the users actually know how to use them.

Majority of users just look at them as "dumb" drop-downs, and don't know that when the lookup list has over 20 items, it actually gets converted to a type ahead field.


Sent from mobile device.

Jan 12, 2012 at 6:06 AM

Paul, I edited my post, as I forgot the context.

Right, we lose the type ahead feature. What I am thinking is that with cascading drop-downs the child column is already filtered and this feature is not needed anymore. Maybe converting the parent isn't such a good idea though.

Jan 12, 2012 at 1:09 PM

I think the biggest consideration should be consistency in the UX. However, as Paul points out, most users (I'd put the number north of 90% based on my informal polling - few MVPs even know) are unaware that the "complex' dropdowns offer a little extra functional help.

When you're filtering with SPCascadeDropdowns and the number of choices is greatly reduced, simple dropdowns are just a lot easier to deal with. I have no idea whether the 20 number is significant in any way (they may have just made it up), but it feels like a good general cutoff point IF your users know about the extra functionality.


Jan 12, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Consistency in the UX is a nice thought, but from the start the situation is messy:

  • different rendering whether the list has more or less than 20 items
  • type ahead is only implemented in IE, not other browsers [btw Marc, is there any information on your project about browser support?]

Recently, I had the case of a lookup with 20+ items. As the site evolved, the number of items was reduced to 19. I tell you, that was not a great user experience...

Anyway, I get the point. In particular I now realize that converting the parent drop-down doesn't add any value.

Do you see anything else besides the type ahead thing? For example I was wondering if there could be performance issues. But SharePoint generates the select element anyway when you click on the down arrow, and it doesn't seem to be a big concern.



Jan 13, 2012 at 2:27 PM

When SharePoint generates the select element, it uses the values which are already stored in an element in the page. In cases where you have *really* low end client machines, I suppose you might see a performance problem, but these days, browsers run JavaScript very fast.

Converting the parent to a simple dropdown may still make sense for exactly the type of thing you pointed out. If the number of items is going to hover around 20 (and therefore convert back and forth) then it may make a lot of sense for consistency. As usual, it depends.