I have had a request from a potential user to be able to select accounts for transactions by typing the account number, rather than selecting from the drop-down list, or pressing first letters of the account name until it comes up (the two current options).
The problem with this is that it changes the account selection fields from ones you cannot type in, to ones you can type in. If you are going to be able to type in them, it only makes sense to change it to an “autocomplete” type field, like the Payee / Description fields, where you start typing an entry and matches come up. That would have to work whether you start typing a number, or start typing an account name.
There are a couple of problems I see with this, that I’d like your input on.
The first is that it could actually make the selection of some accounts by name much harder. Think about if you had three accounts named “General Fund”, “General Fund Income”, and “General Fund Expense” (or, obviously, anything other sets of accounts whose names all start similarly). As you started typing say “Gen”, “General Fund” would pop up. To get to one of the other two, you would have to click to the end of that field, or press the End key, and then continue typing. (Or, if you don’t figure that out, you’d have to type the whole common part, before you could start distinguishing it!) That’s confusing and slow.
The other problem is that suddenly validation is needed on the account entry, because you can type in something that’s not on the list. One option would be to ask whether the user wants to add that new account name (or number!), but there’s already a mechanism for that (the <Add New> entry on the list), so I’m not really inclined to add a 2nd way. So that means there has to be a message as they leave the field, saying something to the effect of “Sorry, that account isn’t on the list, please enter or select something that’s on the list”.
Now, one option is to stick with the current method (no typing, only first letters) for users who want to select accounts by name (which I think will be a large majority of users!) and switch to the autocomplete method for those who want to do entry by number. There would have to be an option added to Maintenance -> Main Options to control that switch. But I’m not crazy about the idea of their being two rather different data entry methods available for the same fields.