Better name for "Seeking" in lists

11 Dec 2006 - 11:15am
7 years ago
13 replies
638 reads
jbellis
2005

In various lists, is there a name for the system behavior in which the list automatically scrolls to and highlights the item that begins with a letter or letters you type?
Thanks, Jack

Comments

11 Dec 2006 - 11:35am
Dan Saffer
2003

I know they've been called "Combo Boxes" in software development in
the past (for the combination of a list and a text box), but that's
terrible.

Dan

11 Dec 2006 - 11:42am
Jon Plummer
2006

I'm fond of calling that behavior "type-ahead find."
—Jon Plummer

> In various lists, is there a name for the system behavior in which the list automatically scrolls to and highlights the item that begins with a letter or letters you type?

11 Dec 2006 - 12:28pm
Jaime Guerrero
2006

the general term is "incremental search"

generally defined as a system where every keystroke (adding a character
to the search string) executes a search and shows the results of that
search, so that as typing proceeds, the results narrow down further and
further. Due to the uniqueness of many words, often, only a few letters
are necessary to be typed, which makes incremental searching potentially
much faster than, for example, typing out an entire word and only then
"executing" the search.

a great demonstration of the 'classic' design for incremental search
(using Ajax technology) is on GoogleSuggest
http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1&hl=en

also the Find feature in Mozilla Firefox (Edit->Find in Page) implements
a version of incremental search for text documents

it's only partially implemented (first letter only) in most Browsers'
list-box and drop-down controls (<select> tag), so it doesn't really
solve the problem there except for short lists.

jackbellis.com wrote:

>In various lists, is there a name for the system behavior in which the list automatically scrolls to and highlights the item that begins with a letter or letters you type?
>
>

11 Dec 2006 - 12:46pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

The feature that makes this work is just a "keyboard accelerator"
(keystrokes that speed up interaction), but I don't think the specific
*behavior* has a name. Maybe you should invent one. :) It's definitely a
design pattern.

-r-

On 12/11/06, jackbellis.com <jackbellis at hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> In various lists, is there a name for the system behavior in which the
> list automatically scrolls to and highlights the item that begins with a
> letter or letters you type?
> Thanks, Jack
> ________________________________________________________________
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11 Dec 2006 - 12:49pm
Lorne Trudeau
2006

"Auto Complete" makes sense to me.
http://com1.devnet.scd.yahoo.com/ypatterns/pattern.php?pattern=autocompl
ete

Lorne

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
jackbellis.com
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 8:16 AM
To: discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Better name for "Seeking" in lists

In various lists, is there a name for the system behavior in which the
list automatically scrolls to and highlights the item that begins with a
letter or letters you type?
Thanks, Jack
________________________________________________________________
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11 Dec 2006 - 12:54pm
jwdomb
2006

Jack,

I like how Mozilla refers to this functionality (and I'm sure I've seen
it elsewhere) as find-as-you-type [1]. However, if I am trying to
describe a mechanism that helps fill out a form field, I tend to call
it autocomplete following Microsoft's lead [2].

Joseph Dombroski

[1] http://www.mozilla.org/access/type-ahead/
[2]
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/ie6/using/howto/customizing/
autocomplete.mspx

On Dec 11, 2006, at 10:15am, jackbellis.com wrote:

In various lists, is there a name for the system behavior in which the
list automatically scrolls to and highlights the item that begins with
a letter or letters you type?
Thanks, Jack
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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11 Dec 2006 - 1:31pm
jayhilwig
2006

Thought I heard this referred to as a "WORD WHEEL" in a past IxDA
discussion.
http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms670057.aspx

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
jackbellis.com
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 8:16 AM
To: discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Better name for "Seeking" in lists

In various lists, is there a name for the system behavior in which the list
automatically scrolls to and highlights the item that begins with a letter
or letters you type?
Thanks, Jack
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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11 Dec 2006 - 1:36pm
Cale Peeples
2006

I've used both "Type ahead" and "Auto Complete" to describe this
scenario.

Lately, I've encountered some confusion with the "Auto Complete" and the
browser version of auto complete - so I stick with "Type Ahead" now.

.cale

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Lorne Trudeau
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 9:50 AM
To: discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Better name for "Seeking" in lists

"Auto Complete" makes sense to me.
http://com1.devnet.scd.yahoo.com/ypatterns/pattern.php?pattern=autocompl
ete

Lorne

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
jackbellis.com
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 8:16 AM
To: discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Better name for "Seeking" in lists

In various lists, is there a name for the system behavior in which the
list automatically scrolls to and highlights the item that begins with a
letter or letters you type?
Thanks, Jack
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
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11 Dec 2006 - 1:45pm
Shep McKee
2005

I agree that 'auto-complete' is the best umbrella term, especially in
the context of web apps. Intellisense (Microsoft) and Content Assist
(Eclipse Foundation) are two terms used to describe these patterns in
desktop development apps, although with true Intellisense/Content
Assist there's often much more than just simple auto-complete provided.

There's often 2 parts to these patterns - I've seen either or both used:
- An auto-complete textbox: The most probable choice based on the
substring the user haas typed is presented in a textbox. As the user
enters more of the string, The algorithm for "most probable" is often
context dependent, eg: 'begins with' or 'contains'
- A dynamically filtered dropdown: The list of other possible
choices, reduced dynamically by the substring the user has typed.
Again - the algorithm can often be context dependent.

On the subject of context: We designed an "auto-complete drop-
down" (our term) for a task where the user had to pick from a very
large set of terms. It was much more efficient than the cascading
drop-down list[1], but not as much as we had hoped. We discovered
that many users preferred to use (both formal & informal)
abbreviations and acronyms, often without ever knowing the original
term. So we built a synonym ring to tie all the terms together with
the most common abbreviations and acronyms. The new control now
provided matches based on the substring that the user entered, but
also presented matches, in a separate section of the drop-down, based
on the synonym ring.

[1] Like a drop-down used to pick your state or country (argh!)

On Dec 11, 2006, at 12:49 PM, Lorne Trudeau wrote:
> "Auto Complete" makes sense to me.
> http://com1.devnet.scd.yahoo.com/ypatterns/pattern.php?
> pattern=autocompl
> ete

11 Dec 2006 - 1:58pm
josh5
2006

All,

I would say it depends on the results of the interaction. If people are
typing and the list "scrolls" to a matching entry, I've referred to that
interaction as "jumping in lists" in the past. Within this type of
interaction you see different variations:
"Single letter jumping" seen in a Motorola RAZR phonebook where the list
will only match the first letter.
"Multiple letter jumping" would progressively jump to a match based on all
the letters that are entered.

You could generalize to say "character" rather than letter.

I think of Auto-Completes as being a slightly different thing...because they
(can or tend) to be about suggestions vs matching something within a defined
list.
A similar behavior, but a different variation is sometimes seen in "sliders"
where you jump to a point in a defined range.
If people are typing and the list "filters" to matching entries I would
consider that a different interaction as well.

On 12/11/06, Shep McKee <shep.mckee at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I agree that 'auto-complete' is the best umbrella term, especially in
> the context of web apps. Intellisense (Microsoft) and Content Assist
> (Eclipse Foundation) are two terms used to describe these patterns in
> desktop development apps, although with true Intellisense/Content
> Assist there's often much more than just simple auto-complete provided.
>
> There's often 2 parts to these patterns - I've seen either or both used:
> - An auto-complete textbox: The most probable choice based on the
> substring the user haas typed is presented in a textbox. As the user
> enters more of the string, The algorithm for "most probable" is often
> context dependent, eg: 'begins with' or 'contains'
> - A dynamically filtered dropdown: The list of other possible
> choices, reduced dynamically by the substring the user has typed.
> Again - the algorithm can often be context dependent.
>
> On the subject of context: We designed an "auto-complete drop-
> down" (our term) for a task where the user had to pick from a very
> large set of terms. It was much more efficient than the cascading
> drop-down list[1], but not as much as we had hoped. We discovered
> that many users preferred to use (both formal & informal)
> abbreviations and acronyms, often without ever knowing the original
> term. So we built a synonym ring to tie all the terms together with
> the most common abbreviations and acronyms. The new control now
> provided matches based on the substring that the user entered, but
> also presented matches, in a separate section of the drop-down, based
> on the synonym ring.
>
> [1] Like a drop-down used to pick your state or country (argh!)
>
> On Dec 11, 2006, at 12:49 PM, Lorne Trudeau wrote:
> > "Auto Complete" makes sense to me.
> > http://com1.devnet.scd.yahoo.com/ypatterns/pattern.php?
> > pattern=autocompl
> > ete
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

11 Dec 2006 - 3:47pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

Not bad. 10 designers - 10 answers. :)

-r-

11 Dec 2006 - 7:37pm
.pauric
2006

"Not bad. 10 designers - 10 answers. :)"

And one patent... this list is a veritable mine of productive creativity
(o;

On 12/11/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote: I don't think the specific

> *behavior* has a name. Maybe you should invent one. :) It's definitely a
> design pattern.
>
> -r-
>
>

22 Dec 2006 - 6:06pm
Anonymous

Excuse the tardy reply, I'm just catching up on digests.

There's been much discussion on this topic and I thought this is a
good example of how terminology can be quite confusing. We're all
trying to shoehorn this feature into different names, all of which
mean something very specific (and different) to me. Here's what I
understand the various terms to mean:

Jack Bellis wrote:

> In various lists, is there a name for the system behavior in which
> the list automatically scrolls to and highlights the item that
> begins with a letter or letters you type?

On Mac OS X, I refer to this as typeahead or "type completion".

Dan Saffer wrote:

> I know they've been called "Combo Boxes" in software development in
> the past (for the combination of a list and a text box), but that's
> terrible.

Combo boxes are a specific type of control. Type completion is a more
general feature. Combo boxes often have (provide) type completion.

Robert Hoekman, Jr wrote:

> The feature that makes this work is just a "keyboard accelerator"
> (keystrokes that speed up interaction), but I don't think the specific
> *behavior* has a name. Maybe you should invent one. :) It's
> definitely a
> design pattern.

In my experience, a keyboard accelerator refers to a Windows/KDE/
Gnome/etc. feature for activating menu items and controls by pressing
alt+<letter>, where the corresponding letter is underlined on the
control. (Sometimes it also refers to ctrl+<key> shortcuts for menu
items.)

Jaime Guerrero wrote:

> the general term is "incremental search"

My understanding of incremental search is that it refers to either
(a) iTunes-style filtering (shrinking) of the result list as the
query string grows
(b) emacs-style find-as-you-type where the next search result is
highlighted

Cale Peeples wrote:

> I've used both "Type ahead" and "Auto Complete" to describe this
> scenario.

For me autocomplete is when you type the first part of a word, and
press a key, such as tab or escape, and the program "completes" the
word by adding more letters.

Paul

shad 96c / uw cs 2001
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