Wednesday, November 26, 2008

QuickBase dependent dropdown. The art to place shortcomings as benefits.

Each and every time I test the service I am never sure what to expect, cause you never know until you try.

So, what does the system hold for the user this time?

It’s really a tricky thing I must say.

As I mentioned before I will test a dependent dropdown through States and Cities. At first let’s create tables of states and cities and set a relation between these tables in order to relate states to cities. Take a look at the initial data:



Now I can check out variants of dependent dropdown realization that QuickBase offers. Unfortunately QuickBase doesn’t support conditional dropdown function, so the developers offer such alternatives:

Recommended way of implementation: to select from the final dropdown (in our case it’s Cities) and to use record picker rather than a drop-down menu for selection, as it gives a possibility to search. And after saving through lookup fields get the State from relation. This is how the city selection looks like:

And the record after value selection:

For better understanding of how it is done check the peculiarities of set up specified in this article.

Not recommended way: If you want to get actual dependent dropdown lists in QuickBase you’d better be a wizard of HTML and Javascript. The details of how it is done are described here. I totally agree with QuickBase here and don’t think that a common user will choose this way if he is in his right mind.


The dependent dropdown alternative that QuickBase offers for the specific case with State and Cities solves the issue not so bad. But the goal of my testing is to show users the level of flexibility of different systems.

I can understand why developers try to represent any restrictions of the system as its peculiarities or even advantages. I was puzzled a bit with this statement:
"There is a better way to accomplish this than using dropdown lists whose content depends on the selection"

I think that suggested variant is not an appropriate solution in many cases. For example, there are several dropdowns which dependend on one dropdown?

So I my point is QuickBase doesn’t support dependent dropdown at this stage. Anyway the user decides if the offered alternative is good for him.


  1. By Dan D. Gutierrez
    CEO of

    I appreciate your analysis of how Quickbase handles pull-down lists. Our service does it very differently, allowing the user to simply modify the HTML our form generation tool creates. A very modest knowledge of HTML is required.

  2. Actually, my point is the system shouldn’t require any knowledge of HTML or Javascript.
    I mean if for implementation of any function the service offers to write an HTML script, it means only one thing: program developers decided to shift the problem of limited functionality onto users’ shoulders, making him write a program, almost turning into actual programmer.

    This is not the way out. Besides, nobody tells the common user that as soon as at least one line of HTML is written and the need of any change in his database arises, one should constantly fix this HTML script to secure its operation.