How to Set Up Dependent Dropdowns

Why do TrackVia Users need Dependent Dropdowns?

Dependent Dropdowns are an exciting feature that allows for quicker, more accurate entry of information into TrackVia.

Let's quickly review the old way for entering data. In this example, TrackVia is being used to add addresses to an application. A TrackVia form has been created for Address entry. It links to three parent tables: Country, State/Province, and City. Country is a parent to State/Province and City, and State/Province is a parent to City. Here's what the database looks like visually:

This application has a form for adding addresses with Link to Parent Dropdowns for Country, State/Province, and City. The first problem with this arises when Users attempt to select a city. There are 250 cities in this application and there's no good way to distinguish Aurora, Colorado from Aurora, Ontario or Columbus, Ohio from Columbus, Georgia.

The current construction of this form also allows selection of a Country, State/Province, and City that don't go together. A system, like the one below, that allows us to capture an address of New York City, TX, Canada is one that's prone to data entry errors.

In short, this form makes the data entry process more difficult and error-prone than it should be. 

Dependent Dropdowns: The Solution for Faster, More Accurate Data Entry

Dependent Dropdowns are a solution to these problems. With this feature, users have the ability to filter the City dropdown by the values selected in the State/Province and Country dropdowns. This provides a shorter, easier list that preserves data integrity.

Instead of seeing every city in the database, now our User is only seeing those cities in Ohio. Below, we'll describe how to configure Dependent Dropdowns.

Setting up Dependent Dropdowns

Dependent Dropdowns are configured at the Form-level from the Form Editor. Start by entering the Field Settings of the field you wish to filter. In this example, that is City.


Inside the Field Settings, click on the "Rules" tab.

Under the "Create a New Rule" dropdown, select "Apply Filter".

When Applying a Filter, users have the option to conditionally filter. That is, the filter is only applied when a certain condition is met. This conditionality works exactly as the conditions in Show/Hide Rules. For this example, the filter will always apply.

To create the filter, click in the "Field to filter by" drop down. The field by which you are filtering must be the Record ID of a Parent Table. 
In the current version of dependent dropdowns, only the Record ID of the table will be available. Be careful, this can get confusing as Record ID up the relationship chain (Parent, Grand Parent, Great Grand Parent etc.)  will all be available for filtering and may not reflect the field on the form that the users will be choosing.

In this example, we see the ability to filter by Country or by State/Province. For now, we will select the option to filter by State/Province.

Next, select the field that is being filtered.

In this example, we're filtering the field "State/Province" on the "Cities" table. 

As the sentence below the field selection confirms, we are only showing records where the "State/Province" field in the "Cities" table is identical to the "State ID" of the "State/Province" table selected.

This rule is now completely built. In the Form Editor, it's possible to see which fields have rules associated with them. The State/Province field is used as a filter, which is denoted with the Filter icon. The City field is filtered by the rule, which is denoted with the clipboard icon.

We can save the form and edit the Form Builder. 

When adding a record with the form, clicking on the "Cities" dropdown without selecting a State/Province still shows all records in the Cities table. 

If the User first selects a State/Province, this will limit the "Cities" dropdown to only those Cities associated with that State/Province.

We've successfully filtered "Cities" by the value selected in "State/Province".

Next Steps with Dependent Dropdowns

We could end here and this would be a success, but we can also add additional filters to further limit our options and ensure data integrity. "State/Province" can have a "Country" filter applied, because it is a child of the "Country" table.

We can also apply a second rule to "Cities" to filter it by "Country", because "Country" is also a parent to "Cities".

Now, selecting a value in "Country" can be used to filter either "State/Province" or "City".

We've now successfully used Dependent Dropdowns to filter possible results, make data entry quicker by eliminating unwanted choices, and remove the likelihood of corrupt data by preventing users from selecting records that are unrelated.

To go one step further, TrackVia Admins could consider adding Show/Hide rules to force users to select a "Country" or "State/Province" before selecting a "City".


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