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I have a form that allows an inspector to complete an inspection. Easy.

But the inspector carries out lots of inspections and to save time will want to fill in bunch of common meta data and apply this to lots of inspections so that s/he doesnt have to fill out an inspection form individually.

There are maybe two ways of doing this:

a)user selects which inspections to inspect from a checklist. User fills out form. Submission of form applies data to all inspections s/he's checked off

b)user selects an inspection. In form is link saying 'apply this data to other inspections' and then that link takes you to an inspection check list.

Which is the better method? Harder for us to implement a) but b)is a little more cluncky

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    Will copying metadata create negative behavior for your system? Eg for quality systems this could be an antipattern because it helps the inspector avoid checking the quality of individual items
    – tohster
    May 20 '15 at 12:36
  • the inspector absolutely will have checked individual items so this would not be an issue
    – colmcq
    May 20 '15 at 13:43
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Option A is more common. Mass-edit is a very common scenario in complex systems and the process is usually to first select the entities to edit, and then to perform the edit, which is applied to all.

Option A also provides more visual affordance. Often a table that supports mass edit will have a column of checkboxes, suggesting that more than one entity can be selected and acted upon.

These are some considerations in favor of option A under the assumption that the basic entities already exist and can be selected.

The other scenario is where the entities don't yet exist but it's likely that a user will want to create a bunch of them at once. JIRA solves this well by letting you create an issue in a modal window, fill in a bunch of fields, and then there's a checkbox next to the Create button, which says "Create another". If you mark it, the window will stay open after you're done with the first item, and your original entity will serve as template for the future entities, where some of the fields are already pre-filled.

These two options can be combined, since they don't interfere with one another.

In your case it sounds like you're contemplating between "select all, then edit" and "select one, edit it, then select more". Sounds to me like the first one is definitely better because they're starting from the selection screen in both cases, but in the second version you're forcing them to go back there to select some more inspections.

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I don't know if my approach fits in your use case, but here what we have been doing for a similar requirement.

We have templates for forms. So when a user opens a new inspection, we would present a blank form, she may choose to fill everything manually. Or we have an optional feature which allows her to choose previously saved templates.

So for one particular inspection type, she might be having previously saved templates. This approach allows us to offer flexibility over even the small changes in a template. For example if we have five fields having values, and there is another case where four of those 5 have the same value and only one changes, so we offer to save that as a separate template. This way user has an option to meticulously design her templates.

We also have categories and other aspects for the templates classification. We have a finance application, and this option of user configurable templates have been received well by our costumers.

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  • I think templates would allow a form to completed real fast but the existing system allows the user to complete many forms at once and templating alone cannot do this
    – colmcq
    May 20 '15 at 9:43
  • Many forms at once? I am curious, can you provide a wireframe or more details about your current implementation?
    – Harshal
    May 20 '15 at 9:51
  • I was going to do this, but Vitaly has answered the question in a way that convinces me a)
    – colmcq
    May 20 '15 at 12:01

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