That is a common scenario that filters for a specific grid may contain large lists of values. In most cases every item displayed in the filter list holds by itself different Metadata fields that can be used to filter the list of available items in the filter.

I am looking to find a suitable input field that can support that requirement. here are the options that i thought of.

The pattern that I am looking for should suit a web-application.

  1. Multiple select Dropdown with checkboxes that will allow quick search using a name. This is similar to what is done with Excel:

enter image description here

  1. Another options is to create a different field that will have a select button next to it that will open up a selection window. something like this:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

would be happy to hear any other suggestion...

  • The scenarios are different depending on concrete needs. Excel applies logic rules for filtering, while the second option is direct selection tool. Be more specific to get best shaped solutions: -- what data do you have, -- how many items are typically selected, -- have you any complains from users? Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 9:57
  • Hi, I fail to understand what logic excel applies to the filter items list that is displayed. We did get complains that there are to many items in each dropdown and it is hard to find what one users is looking for. With regards to the typical selection it can range from 2 items to all ...
    – Mortalus
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 10:21
  • The logic behind filtering is logical operations (=, >, <, etc). Having no data it's hard to build UI, so general recommendation is: selection of many items via filtering is much easy task than direct selection. Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 11:06
  • But excel filters for a string based column does not provide any operators for the filter (e.g. =,<,> etc...) This is the behaviour that I'm after ..
    – Mortalus
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 11:22
  • In fact, Excel do it internally, i.e. you shouldn't specify "=" operation, but you could, using text filters dialog. Any filter applies filtering rules to the whole set. Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 11:39

1 Answer 1


This is all about complexity management. Personally, I do not believe in a simple list with search field. You want user to select several items, but force him to type. Please also note, search field is useful only if user knows what to search.

What you actually need is a some sort of structured data/catalog. Generally saying, some hierarchical view will do the trick. (Hierarchy can be shown explicitly or implicitly). By the way, you have plenty of options:

  1. very simple approach with two lists
  2. tree/tree table
  3. tabbed pane
  4. accordion
  5. Miller columns
  6. Single list solution with navigation based on bread-crumbs

enter image description here

Please also check this topic: Whats is the best UI interface for permission? I would say pretty much the same problem.

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