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Method Dropdown Lists - today's awesome upgrade

When you signed into Method today, you probably noticed something was different.  Something was smoother.....but what was it?  It's the new Method Dropdown lists!  This brings an end to a larger development project than you would have thought ( was a lot bigger job than we thought before taking the dive an digging in).

You may be asking yourself why have we spent months of combined development time creating our very own Method Dropdown list controls?  Aren't the ones that exist on regular web pages "good enough"?  I think regular dropdown lists are okay, and fine for some web apps, but not for Method.  "Good enough" just didn't hack it.  For the same reason we made our own Method Grids, the Method Dropdown lists are incredibly important since as a Method user you are using them every day, all day long.

Here's why we did it:

Reason #1 - Method pages stay open all day - With a regular dropdown list, all the available entries are loaded into the list when the web page opens.  That's okay for most web apps.  But Method pages don't close or reload during the day. Once they are open, they are open - that's what keeps it fast and keeps it acting like a desktop app.  If we used regular dropdown lists, any new dropdown list entries wouldn't show up in Method until you signed out and signed back in.  That would be ugly.  We therefore had to create a dropdown list that would get the latest list of entries every time you clicked on the dropdown arrow, or started typing in the dropdown.

Reason #2 - Speed - With a regular dropdown list, ALL available entries are loaded into the list.  That's fine for most situations, but what about an accounting or business app. That's crazy.  You might have 30,000 customers, or 100,000 items.  Or more.  Method is made to be enterprise-ready, so we couldn't have you click on a dropdown list then go grab a coffee while you waited for it to download the list every time from the server.  Desktop apps don't have the same constraints as web apps - so we are forced to be smarter.  We therefore had to find a way where it conveniently only grabbed the first 50 entries that matched your criteria.  With today's upgrade, this got even better as we added a "Next" and "Previous" at the bottom of the list if there were more than 50.  I've never seen "Paging" before on a dropdown list, but it just makes sense for Method.

Also, in terms of speed, one of the major changes with today's upgrade is that you'll find the searching amazingly fast.  Before, if you typed "jackson" it would do 7 searches to the server, one for "j", another for "ja", another for "jac"....etc, until it caught up and got to "jackson". I found this especially annoying when at a conference in Las Vegas last week with a slow internet connection.  I would finish typing and watch it slowly show results after results until it caught up.  With today's upgrade however, if you type out "jackson" quickly, it would probably do one search for "j" and a final search for "jackson", making it amazingly fast and useful, so there is no waiting around at all.

Reason #3 - Search "containing" not "starts with" - When you type into a regular dropdown, it will search for entries that start with what you are typing.  I find this annoying, especially when it comes to QuickBooks data.  Sometimes i know a customer by their last name, sometimes by their first name. Did I enter the customer as "Paul Jackson", or "Jackson, Paul"?  Did I enter my item as "Tree:Pine:Red" or was it "Red Pine"?   Method Dropdowns are so much more convenient because they search for text containing, not starting with.  So in my example, I could type "Paul" or "Jackson"..."Red" or "Pine" and it would find my answer for me.

Reason #4 - Multi-columns - In QuickBooks, you are used to seeing multiple data columns in the dropdown lists.  For example, when creating an invoice, you see not just the Item Name, but all the Item Type and Item Description.  For the last two years, we have been slowly working towards Method Dropdowns to support this, and today's release was the final end goal.  As of today you can now show whatever data you want in your dropdowns.  This is cool.  It may not seem like a big deal since you are so used to it in QuickBooks, but since this does not exist in regular web dropdown lists, it meant a sizable job for us to put together.

Here is how you customize a dropdown in the design screen:

Design Screen

Here is an example of the Invoice with 3 columns:

Invoice 3 columns


And there you have it.  It all makes for a much richer experience.

We'll be upgrading most standard screens throughout the week, so stay patient and you'll start to see multi-columns appear automatically to further simulate what you are used to in QuickBooks.  Stay tuned, and enjoy.




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About Method_Paul

While studying at Queen's School of Business in 1999, Paul founded Alocet Incorporated, developing 'QXpress', which later became the top rated field service scheduling add-on for QuickBooks. Alocet Incorporated later went on to create Method Integration - an innovative small business management platform that allows users to create their own web apps for QuickBooks.