Efficient selection from a big list

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    Asked on April 20, 2014 at 05:30 AM

    I'm currently experimenting with some simpler forms with a view to making a more complex one that will allow entry of bird lists - a list of birds observed at a location.

    I need to be able to let the user quickly select a bird species from a list of about 280 birds.  One way would be a giant drop down list, but this might be too slow and hard to use. Bird survey software often uses the ability to start typing a few letters and autofill works.  The trick is you can't use normal autofill because, for example, there are many birds with 'Australian' as the first word, and you'd have to type all the word 'Australian" and then 'Spotted' and then start on the word 'crake' to distinguish it from 'Australian Spotted bowerbird' or 'Australian Spotted quail-thrush'.  


    1------For this reason a more efficient way is to allow typing the first one or two letters of different words eg au s q would find an Australian Spotted Quail-thrush. And a c would even possibly find the Australian Spotted Crake.  This is the ideal way of quickly specifying a particular species, is this possible with jotform, or is there another efficient (quick and easy) way of choosing a particular option from a list of 280?


    2------Would there be a problem with making up a really long form that just lists all 280 species with a few entry boxes beside each?


    3-------The user might want to enter anything from one to perhaps 50 bird species seen at a location.  Is there a way of structuring a form that allows a variable number of entries, up to say 50 different entries? 

    You'd end up wanting to input something like:

    'Australian Spotted Crake'     '2'          'on water, immature birds'
    'Yellow Robin'   '1'
    'Little Eagle'   '2'   'on nest, male feeding a chick'


    etc, where you might have only one species, or maybe 40 or 50 of them.

    Is it possible to manage a variable number of entries?  Maybe I'm trying to use jotform for something it is not designed to do.




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    Answered on April 20, 2014 at 09:46 AM


    #1. -- 280 options for drop-down or autocomplete lists should be fine. I've seen list by the thousands and it still working with no noticeable slowdown or hiccup.

    You should also try your 280 list so that you can find out already for yourself.

    #2 -- 280 long form with detailed information is definitely long. It will give you issue rendering the form on the browser faster -- and at the same time, the management of the form can be challenging.

    #3 -- any of these 2 widgets should work for this 

    Dynamic Fields - http://widgets.jotform.com/widget/dynamic_fields

    Matrix Dynamique - http://widgets.jotform.com/widget/matrix_dynamique

    This widgets allows dynamic number of inputs base on the users input.

    So, the user can have entry with a variable of 1-50.


    Is it possible to manage a variable number of entries? 

    I believe my #3 answer also cover this.


    So, for the mean time, only #2 seems to be where you will have perceived issue.. BUT I do suggest you proceed working on your form and add the detailed information as mentioned in #2.. then, just test your form from time to time to check when it will start to slow down.

    Hope this help. Please contact us again anytime for any assistance you need.


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    Answered on April 21, 2014 at 07:10 AM


    I tried widgets you mention but they don't work with a drop-down list.


    See my test form   http://canberrabirds.org.au/test-incidental-record-form/ ...   can I change it so that the matrix at the end (four fields each entry) can be added to by the user, so can have variable number of entries?

    Or is there another way of repeating a given set of fields dynamically?

    The way matrix_dynamique is supposed to work would be perfect, but a) I can't get it to work at all, even with four text boxes, and b) as mentioned, it only works with plain text boxes, not drop-downs.


    Thanks again.

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    Answered on April 21, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Hello Aaardvaark,

    Yes the matrix dynamique widget will only add text boxes and adding dropdown is currently not possible.

    Unfortunately, there is no other way to achieve your requirement. You will have to go the hard way of adding multiple radio buttons with same data. You can take advantage of our condition logic feature to show hide multiple question on click of a button. Teh following guide should help you:  http://www.jotform.com/help/196-How-to-Hide-or-Show-Multiple-Fields-at-Once-Based-On-a-Single-Conditional-Entry

    I cloned your form and tried to implement a similar feature. Please take a look at the following cloned form:  http://form.jotformpro.com/form/41103821607949? Is this an acceptable solution to you? Feel free to clone this form for a closer look. The following guide should help you in form cloning:  http://www.jotform.com/help/42-How-to-Clone-an-Existing-Form-from-a-URL

    Hope this helps.

    Do get back to us if you have any questions.

    Thank you!

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    Answered on April 21, 2014 at 06:27 PM

    Thanks but this doesn't work for my need, where users might need to enter 50 records or even more at times.  It would take me a week just to set up 50 lines in my matrix and their conditional logic!  Also it would make the form itself extremely long and annoy users.


    I'll have to try other form software unfortunately.