I got a great response from my post On Not Using Views and I really appreciate all of the feedback and e-mails. In that thread, Keith asked a very relevant question. I started writing a reply, but then I thought that this was important enough to get some discussion going. Here's what he had to say:
"I've started creating apps with fewer views and experimenting with displaying data differently. But my problem is customers are wanting drop down boxes that may contain 200 choices. Once they pick a category from the drop down the pertinent documents are displayed in an embedded, single category view. Is there a better way to choose the categories other than having a drop down with 200+ choices? I've made it where they can start typing the category and it'll move accordingly, but it's still kind-of extreme."
This is a sticky wicket for sure, since he has presented a scenario that makes it difficult to definitively select one construct over another. Keith, you may never be able to come up with the perfect solution in this case, but here are some thoughts:
Can you change the taxonomy somewhat so that it will easier to make the relevant selection? For example, maybe the 200 choices are logically grouped into a subset of 10 or 20. You could then have two drop downs, one to select the main category and the second to pick the sub category. In that way, both sets of drop downs are relatively small and easy to handle.
Another thought is that maybe there is some info you could gather before the user opens the form that can help narrow down the list of choices. For example, perhaps your embedded view shows a list of sales calls by branch. On document open, ask the user what state the report is for and use that to show just the relevant branches for that state in the drop-down.
Sorry I don't have a better answer for you. Sometimes you are just stuck having to present a big list. There's nothing inherently wrong in this, however. In my mind, the key is to weigh this against the alternative and see which one works best. (Hint: Although it's tempting, don't try to answer this question yourself. This is the perfect time to enlist the aid of your customers and do some usability testing. Trust me, they'll tell you exactly what you need to know! :-)
So...perhaps some other people out there have come up with alternate solutions that might benefit Keith (and everyone else here). If you have an approach that you'd like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks in advance! Oh...and Keith, let us know what you end up doing.