New People Picker

I have another 11 days without wife and child (during which time I can stay up working all hours of the night). This past week, I completely re-did the People Picker for version 2.0 and it rocks. The People Picker in 1.86 is a modal panel which has two search fields, one for existing MemoryMiner users, another for entries in your system Address Book. The new People Picker has just one search field that searches both sources, and presents the aggregate results in a single table (along their birth year, which helps distinguish people with the same names).

The search algorithm is also pretty clever: it looks at the search text as “words” (using blank space as a separator). The first word is used to search against peoples’ first and last names. If you type two “words” (e.g. “john g”) it uses the first word to search against peoples’ first names and the second word to search against peoples’ last names.

The first search result is automatically selected, so hitting return selects that person. If more than one person matches the search result, you can use the page up or page down keys to select other items in the list.

If no matches are found, hitting the return key brings up the New Person form copying the text from the search field into the name field. Hit the tab key to enter the new person’s birth date (if you know it) or hit return again, and the new user is created.

In addition to making the annotation process so much faster (once you’ve created the marker, you don’t have to take your hands off the keyboard) the general approach of “one search field to rule them all” is very powerful. For example, many people have asked that we add Facebook friends as a person source. Doing so would be much easier now.

I’m nearly done doing the same thing for a new “Place Picker”, so gotta get back to work on that…

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