JumpToWidget is a Java applet that combines a text input box with a list box so that a user can make a selection from a large list quickly by typing in a substring into the text input box.
On each keypress, the List box updates to show only the options that contain the entered substrings. Substrings are separated by spaces in the text input box. Only options which contain every substring are matched, and the comparison is case insensitive by default. This widget attempts to mimic the behaviour of the "Jump To File" feature in Winamp.
This type of interface provides a huge usability improvement over the alternatives. In fact, when you call 411, the operators use exactly this type of interface to quickly lookup a phone number based on the name of the entity you specify.
The alternatives are dropdown boxes, which require painful scrolling, and multi-page narrowing of categories, which requires reading many options and multiple page requests. Imagine how long a directory assistance call would take if the 411 operators used those! Some example of where to use this type of interface would for eBay's category selection, or Yahoo Auto's automobile make and model selection.
This JumpToWidget will have superb performance even if it contains many thousands of options. Because the Java List implementation has a very slow add function, the options list is only fully populated if it gains focus.
While it is being populated a "Loading..." message appears in the list. If the user is only using the text entry box, the options list refreshes very fast. The user can type tab or press the down arrow key to move into the options list.
This JumpToWidget does not do any sorting of the options. It maintains the order specified in the name and value strings.