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Why Every Prompt Should Have a Default Value

Good UI starts with your interface doing what your end user expects it to do. Your interface matches the expectations and logic of your user, making their experience efficient, easy, and as fast as possible. I’m not sure about your environment, but when I open a report that is dozens of required prompts that I have to fill out one by one, I turn into the report Hulk and start throwing things around.

Previously, while taking new report requests and actually designing and delivering, I was working with some cohorts to figure out how to use jQuery to set defaults for prompts. It’s simple; work with the user, observe their actions, and adjust the interface accordingly. If the user selects the same thing 90% of the time, assist them by making it the default. My first approach was to do this entirely in jQuery. Guess what? You don’t have to do that.

When you select a prompt, you can go to its General properties and select Default Selections. Type a string that matches input in the prompt, and you’ve got a default. I’d imagine this works for the majority of prompts. There’s some that it doesn’t work for, such as a date field always being set to the current year. That’s one that I’d pick up in jQuery and set using Javascript.

Simple rule; if it’s a required prompt, give it a default value. Your users will thank you.

Published in jQuery/Cognos

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