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How can a user abandon a choice in a combo-box?

P: n/a
MLH
I have a vehicle entry form with a combo box for choosing
the owner. Let's say the user opens the list by clicking the
arrow then choose the owner by clicking a name. That much
works fine.

But the problem begins here...
If for some reason, the user is uncertain of his first choice of
an owner and decides to drop the list down again, using his
keyboard up 'n down arrows to scroll the list, browsing for
other owner choices until he's convinced his first choice was
OK. Now what does he do. He's 10 or 15 rows away from
his first answer. He cannot press Enter and he cannot click
another entry without changing the value of the combobox.
He's sitting on a current choice that is NOT correct and he
is confused as to what to do next.

Rightfully so, I might add. Seems the only way to leave the
combobox control without causing confusion is to scroll back
through the list to the correct choice and pick it. He can't
even click off the list into the form 'white space' or onto a
different control. Why? Because if he clicks another control
the value of the combobox changes and if he clicks the
form's white space, the value of the combobox doesn't
change but the combo box then displays a record that's
NOT the same as the one pointed to by the underlying
value of the combo box. He cannot press ESC or the
same thing will happen. Plus, he's afraid to press ESC
again because he remembers all-to-well having pressed it
too many times in the past and losing everything he entered
onto the form.

I'm not blaming microsoft or faulting Access, but this scenerio
is confusing at best. I'm wondering if any of you address it at
all and what you do to improve it? My own classic answer to
this when faced with a user concern/complaint is "Get used
to it. Learn the app's behaviour and stick with what works."
But maybe there's a better way to handle it.
Dec 16 '06 #1
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5 Replies


P: n/a
"MLH" <CR**@NorthState.netwrote in message
news:k0********************************@4ax.com...
>I have a vehicle entry form with a combo box for choosing
the owner. Let's say the user opens the list by clicking the
arrow then choose the owner by clicking a name. That much
works fine.

But the problem begins here...
If for some reason, the user is uncertain of his first choice of
an owner and decides to drop the list down again, using his
keyboard up 'n down arrows to scroll the list, browsing for
other owner choices until he's convinced his first choice was
OK. Now what does he do. He's 10 or 15 rows away from
his first answer. He cannot press Enter and he cannot click
another entry without changing the value of the combobox.
He's sitting on a current choice that is NOT correct and he
is confused as to what to do next.

Rightfully so, I might add. Seems the only way to leave the
combobox control without causing confusion is to scroll back
through the list to the correct choice and pick it. He can't
even click off the list into the form 'white space' or onto a
different control. Why? Because if he clicks another control
the value of the combobox changes and if he clicks the
form's white space, the value of the combobox doesn't
change but the combo box then displays a record that's
NOT the same as the one pointed to by the underlying
value of the combo box. He cannot press ESC or the
same thing will happen. Plus, he's afraid to press ESC
again because he remembers all-to-well having pressed it
too many times in the past and losing everything he entered
onto the form.

I'm not blaming microsoft or faulting Access, but this scenerio
is confusing at best. I'm wondering if any of you address it at
all and what you do to improve it? My own classic answer to
this when faced with a user concern/complaint is "Get used
to it. Learn the app's behaviour and stick with what works."
But maybe there's a better way to handle it.
The best explanation is that the arrow keys are not for "scrolling", they are
for "selecting". If you want to scan the list without changing the selection (my
definition of scrolling) then that is what the scroll bar is for.
--
Rick Brandt, Microsoft Access MVP
Email (as appropriate) to...
RBrandt at Hunter dot com

Dec 16 '06 #2

P: n/a
MLH
On Sat, 16 Dec 2006 15:37:04 GMT, "Rick Brandt"
<ri*********@hotmail.comwrote:
>The best explanation is that the arrow keys are not for "scrolling", they are
for "selecting". If you want to scan the list without changing the selection (my
definition of scrolling) then that is what the scroll bar is for.

I tend to agree with you, Rick. You know how users are - since they
can, they do. I've gone to some lengths to circumvent the issue. I've
come up with nothing.
Dec 16 '06 #3

P: n/a
"MLH" <CR**@NorthState.netwrote
I tend to agree with you, Rick. You know how
users are - since they can, they do. I've gone to
some lengths to circumvent the issue. I've
come up with nothing.
Did you try user training?

Some years ago, in "a major computer manufacturing company" I worked with a
very wise fellow whose favorite phrase was "you've got to know what you are
doing." That was, in his case, usually applied to people using project
management software without having a clue about project management itself.
But, it does apply elsewhere -- that is, it is a real challenge to protect
people against themselves if they simply do what seems right at the time
(and that results in more-or-less random actions).

Larry Linson
Microsoft Access MVP
Dec 16 '06 #4

P: n/a
MLH
As always, Larry, well put. You are right on the money.
>
Some years ago, in "a major computer manufacturing company" I worked with a
very wise fellow whose favorite phrase was "you've got to know what you are
doing." That was, in his case, usually applied to people using project
management software without having a clue about project management itself.
But, it does apply elsewhere -- that is, it is a real challenge to protect
people against themselves if they simply do what seems right at the time
(and that results in more-or-less random actions).

Larry Linson
Microsoft Access MVP
Dec 17 '06 #5

P: n/a
"MLH" wrote
As always, Larry, well put. You are right on the money.
My observation is that most users really don't _want_ to make a mess, and it
often doesn't take much user training to get them over the "random keystroke
stage."

Larry Linson
Microsoft Access MVP

Dec 18 '06 #6

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