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We are talking about implementing a system that easily generates sales reports for our sales employees. We want to create a web application with one or maybe more text area's to gather the input data from the employee.

There are a few sentences that will return time and time again. Something like: "customer xyz decided to buy the products advised by consultant abc"

What options do I have to implement a feature like that. What I already thought of:

  • Click RMB in text area to pop the sentences or categories of sentences which can be selected. Feels a bit outdated to me.
  • Shortcuts, like an IDE. When I type psvm[tab] I get "public static void main...". Probably to technical for most users.
  • Present a box with sentences next to the text area from which you can drag and drop the sentences. This will take up a lot of real estate.
  • When the system recognizes the start of a sentence that is in the default sentences it pops the sentence and can be clicked (something like the tag functionality here on SE). This will give a lot of false true's which might be annoying for the user.

I understand that there is not a single right answer to this question. Please post answers preferably with an example (of some other site)

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When the system recognizes the start of a sentence that is in the default sentences it pops the sentence and can be clicked (something like the tag functionality here on SE). This will give a lot of false true's which might be annoying for the user.

I would go with this one. It's done in Microsoft Excel (which is fairly ubiquitous). The only time this might get annoying is if the user had to take extraordinary measures to change it. (If they kept typing something else, the default would disappear)

If you are unsure about it, test it with a few people who will be using the system. It's the only way to be sure.

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Ideally your system would be adaptive and learn over time from things other sales reps have typed in.

As long as you only show a manageable number of options while the user types and keep them out of the way (yet easy to access with the arrow keys and enter) then you will have a winner.

google

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Tab enter for auto complete is a common implementation

Use multiple tab to navigation down the list
Esc key to cancel

Typical auto complete is match at only the beginning. You want to auto complete IN the text. The algorithm there is go back maximum characters that has a match. So if there is 5 matches at 40 characters back then those first. And maybe 17 matches at 39 characters back. Maybe even show the match count. Only show so many - like 200.

I use this for contractual terms. It is not just faster but it keeps for more consistent terms in contracts.

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