Sneak Peek: Type-Ahead Search Picker

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While we at Quick Base love to work on great new features, like Kanban reports or Automations, we also take time to focus on the fundamentals. And what could be more fundamental to Quick Base than quickly and accurately entering data? 

So many of our customers tell us they come to Quick Base apps because they’ve outgrown spreadsheets and need to move to a relational database to handle the complexity of the work they need to track. Recently, we’ve been taking a hard look at how we can improve this fundamental activity of Quick Base apps: relating data.

What did we find? After talking to customers with big data sets and small, we realized our record picker needed to be better at finding records quickly and making sure users knew exactly what record they were picking! 

If you’re not familiar with our record picker, here’s a crash course. (You can find out more about configuring it in Quick Base University.)



When you’re working with a relatively small data set, we show a simple HTML drop down. It works well if you’ve got some easily discernible records and you know what you’re looking for, but if you’ve got a larger set of data, it can be much harder to find what you’re looking for.


Now, one of the things we all love about Quick Base is how deeply customizable it is. So what if I want to only pick from records which meet a certain criteria? Or if I want to make sure the most likely to be picked options are at the top? Quick Base has a solve for that! In the form properties, you can choose a report on which to base the record picker, which allows you filter and sort the field. 


It’s great that you can apply sorts and filters, but unless you really trim down the columns, it can be really hard to read for end users. Beyond that, they may not understand what data is displayed in the list and given that each record displays all its data on one line, it can be hard to match up values to compare them.

In addition, our users told us they expected to search through these records to find what they were looking for, but our simple record dropdown doesn’t support that. For search, we need to go into the record picker pop-up. 

In field properties, you can configure this relationship to always use our record picker pop-up but getting to it requires more clicks and takes the user out of the context of the record they’re editing.

What we found in talking to customers was that their teams needed a faster way to search their data.

After seeing all this, we got to work. Presenting the new Quick Base Type-Ahead Search Picker:



If your app builder has chosen to display only one field to pick records on, we’re now going to present a fast, searchable picker, very much like the new field picker we rolled out back in spring or the user picker we've have. 


If your app builder has chosen a report or the standard record picker to select from, you’ll see a multicolumn picker, able to display up to nine fields of relevant data, with each column labeled so users clearly can see what they’re picking from.

We load the first 50 results automatically, so users can browse. As you search, the list updates in real time, pulling in more records and highlighting the matching terms, very much like our user field type. 

This new picker will be rolling out to all users in the coming months. If you’d like a sneak preview, we have it available in early access starting the week of September 24th. Just have your realm administrator open a support ticket and request it at https://login.quickbase.com/qb/support/listcases

Thanks for reading and be on the look out for more posts and previews about our new type-ahead search picker!


Sam Jones
Quick Base Product Manager
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Sam Jones, Employee

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  • picky

Posted 3 months ago

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Avi Sikenpore

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Great job. This has been on the wish list for a while :) I think it will be a welcome change to a large number of your customers.
It's SO good.
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QuickBaseCoach App Dev./Training, Champion

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I'm on the Early Access for my own Developer's Realm and working though a few issues on the Conditional Drop Down field types where the field [Related Parent] is on the form (as opposed to the more correct Proxy field).  But that is what EA is for, to work though less common use cases which did not get caught in their QA.

But yes, it will be great once it gets into General Availability.
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Josh Weeman

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I am seeing the same behavior described above, except that I am using no conditional values on my form, and I am using a "proper reference proxy".  

In view mode, I see the reference proxy field as usual, but now with the EA feature, in edit mode the field changes to the related record ID #.  And in the new EA drop down, I am seeing record ID # as the first field listed (even though record ID # is specifically excluded from my customized record picker definition).  I have tried changing from 'standard record picker' to a customized report for the picker drop down (which also does not include record ID #), yet still the record ID # field is being inserted into the drop down as the first field.  

Is there currently not a way to hide the related record ID # in the new searchable EA drop down feature?  As mentioned above, the record ID # is useless in this scenario and will only serve to confuse users.  I have put effort into hiding this field, now it seems I don't have that option?
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QuickBaseCoach App Dev./Training, Champion

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Ditto for me.  I don't want a record ID to be forced on users. That is the reason that we have Proxies. 
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Sam Jones, Employee

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@josh and @mark,
Open support tickets. Our team can help figure out what's going on.

Sam Jones
Quick Base Product Manager
 
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Josh Weeman

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Thanks for confirming this shouldn't be happening.  I have seemingly fixed the issue by deleting and recreating the reference proxy, and re-adding to the forms in question.  I can now successfully hide the related record ID # in both the standard record picker and using a custom report for the drop-down.  This rocks, good work! Thanks.
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Joe Scola

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Is this the final solution on this to replace the record ID with the reference proxy?  Delete and add back the reference?

I submitted and cancelled a support inquiry on this with a work around of adding lookup fields just below the type ahead search so once selected the lookup fields display what the user was accustomed to seeing after selecting a record from the pop up record picker.   This works but the reference proxy working as described would be best. 
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Tanisha Elias

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test
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Printmark

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Will this be a good replacement for the third party "autocomplete" for quickbase?
I hated to pay for something extra, that should have been native to begin with.
(Edited)
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Joe Scola

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I believe so - i tried Softtech's autocomplete and had the same challenge.  Joe's awesome and was ahead of his time with this years ago but the cost was prohibitive.  
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Printmark

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It works great so far, I have begun eliminating the "search" boxes one by one, I'm not sure what all else is involved with completely removing autocomplete, other than the boxes and the code page it installed. - cost was a big issue for me, only the select few in the company could use it because of this, it is great now that everyone has this basic capability.
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QuickBaseCoach App Dev./Training, Champion

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I'm not sure what the third party autocomplete is, but in my use in Early Access for my own developers Realm, it's excellent.  If you type parts of two words for example, it will also get hits.  That can be very useful for filtering long lists. 
I am using the old record picker popup to select art images as we had a thumbnail RichText field that would show on the popup. It looks like now that RichText fields are not available now as part of the Record Picker choices.  We actually use the PopUp Record Picker as they were able to to displayed on there.  Is the old PopUp still available? or is there a way to add RichText fields to the picker?  We use this functionality in many of apps today related to illustrating images to select from.
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Evan Martinez, Community Manager

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In the current stage of the EA there is not an option to revert some fields back to using the pop up record picker either via Form or Field settings. It is helpful to get feedback on this use case though for the pop up record picker and images. In your instance which would be more desirable, the pop up picker being an option or rich text fields/images being included in the Type-Ahead Search Picker?
It is more useful to have the pop-up picker - as it is expandable to full screen to view more images at one time.  Then use the Search bar to search for image attributes to filter the list with the thumbnail images down to make the selection from
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Evan Martinez, Community Manager

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Thank you for the feedback and insight into your use case Rick. Details like that are very helpful while we are in EA.
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Elena Larrabee

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Does anyone know if this will work in reports too? Or just forms? I use a grid edit report for data entry on a table and I'd LOVE to not have to scroll through hundreds of options to select a parent record.
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Elena Larrabee

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Oh wow, okay! I'll go give that a try. 
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Elena Larrabee

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No luck... It's still showing me every single possible parent record without filtering based on the report being used for the form it's based on. Could it be because I'm in the admin role?
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Elena Larrabee

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Just kidding! It works for standard reports, which you then click grid edit on, it just doesn't want to work for grid edit reports for some reason. 
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Evan Martinez, Community Manager

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Ahh ok, yes Grid Edit type reports don't have the same option to set the Grid Edit behavior, they default to what they are set on during creation. Unfortunately, if you set the form at the user level to be used for Grid Edit it will effect the Grid Edit behavior on every report on that table which could mess up other reports and their behavior. In that instance of a Grid Edit type report, instead of a report turned to Grid Edit, it ignores some of those settings we could manipulate. 
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Elena Larrabee

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Well thank you very much for your help! Much appreciated. I can't use the type-ahead functionality yet, so this is very helpful. 
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Avi Sikenpore

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We have a report with a list of Auditors as a dropdown field. There are about 150 or so auditors but the record picker only displays 50. How can I display all the records beyond the 50 is the user does not know their names and wants to browse the entire list ? Previously you could just scroll down and pick from the dropdown. The ability to switch between search picker and standard multiple choice dropdown would be great.
I have the same problem:
And in the new EA drop down, I am seeing record ID # as the first field listed (even though record ID # is specifically excluded from my customized record picker definition).  

Will we be notified when this addressed? Or will it be dealt with in the General Release?
thanks
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I’m also concerned that where the relationship does not have a Reference Proxy set, that in edit mode it exposes the [Record ID#] to users which is s change in existing behavior (and not good).

There are many thousands of apps out there doing what might be called Manuel reference proxies. By that I mean to show the field related parents in edit mode but in view mode to show the correct look up field.

I fully realize that this can be remedied by sending a proper reference proxy but I personally have written written dozens of apps which back 10 years ago probably had this flaw in their set up but still work perfectly today.

I am still hoping and expecting that bug will be fixed before the GA release on record picker which by the way is an otherwise wonderful enhancement.

I have clients I would like to push over to early access on record picker as it would really help their experience but one client has 100 apps and I really don’t wanna go looking for all the problems proactively.
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Harrison Hersch (QB), Quick Base Sr. Product Manager (Platform)

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Hi all. We have spent considerable time on user studies, experience design and investigating expectations of builders. This is not a bug, but was rather an intentional decision based off of extensive research. These drop downs can deliver considerable amounts of data that we want to help people consume easily and reduce confusing.

Today, if you do not have a proxy field, we display the record ID# when viewing a form. All we simply did with this new feature was carry it over into edit mode so there was continuity.

Can you help share a use case where you wouldn't want an end user to see this record ID, since it is something they already see on view?


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Harrison, I beg to differ!  Today (not on EA), the user experience for [Related Parent] when there is no Proxy field set, is that in ADD and EDIT mode,  is that the user sees the fields from the custom report on the form.

I'm happy to share an app which will duplicate this scenario with anyone in support.

For example

The custom report on the form is a single column drop down list of Defects from a related table.  The current behavior is the user sees a nice clean single column list of defects and in edit mode while looking at the record, but not actually editing that field, sees words of the various defects.

In EA, that will display in edit mode like like "237" as the Defect.  237 is the Record ID# of the defect and is not meaningful to the user, when they expect to see the words, like "Low Tuft Lines".

I know that I can fix this by changing the app to use a reference proxy, but my concern is that this change will break functionality for thousands of apps.  You don't want these support calls and I don't want to proactively search every app I have ever written looking for where I should have used a reference proxy for apps I built in the last 16 years.  In the early 2000's like 2002 'ish I did not understand what a reference proxy was.  Based on my consulting work where I coach and train, many new users do not understand reference proxies.

Hence I feel that if the developer who specified a report on the form to use for a drop down should continue to have their wishes respected and use that report for the drop down.  If I wanted to expose the Record ID to the user I would have included that on my report used for the drop down.  But its pretty rare to want to expose Record IDs to users, unless it happens to be used as a like an Order# off a number wheel.


Thank you for all the ongoing improvements!
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Harrison Hersch (QB), Quick Base Sr. Product Manager (Platform)

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As an FYI, this will not make Sunday's release. I will keep everyone updated. It shouldn't be too long.
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Thx. Hopefully because it’s EA it does not have to wait for the next Monthly release.
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Harrison Hersch (QB), Quick Base Sr. Product Manager (Platform)

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This is released. You should now see the change.
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QuickBaseCoach App Dev./Training, Champion

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Yes, I did a test just now and I agree it working the way we all wanted it to.  That is great.

I'm going to circle though my main clients now and suggest they go on EA for Record Picker!