HTS (Human Table Scan)

Definition:  When an employee has to manually search an entire list or grid of data because the mobile app doesn’t provide any filtering or search capabilities.

You’re probably thinking the advent of the ‘magnifying glass’ icon put an end to the unproductive process of visually scanning and endlessly scrolling unfiltered lists of data in your mobile apps.  I’m here to tell you that this productivity killer is alive and well in 2012!  Large and small companies all over the world are forcing their employees to waste time and money by forcing them to act like a database that has to read every row in sequential order through an un-indexed table.

Luckily, this widespread problem is easily solvable:

  1. When using a data synchronization technology like the Sync Framework, Merge Replication, or Remote Data Access (RDA), ensure that downloaded data is appropriately filtered to be relevant to the mobile employee performing the sync.
  2. If you’re building SOAP or REST web services to transfer data, follow the same rule found in #1 above.
  3. Downloaded data must be stored in searchable in-memory + disk data structures.  This means saving mobile data to embedded databases like SQL Server Compact or SQLite that are searchable via SQL.  Alternatively, in-memory collections of objects should be searchable via Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) or foreach statements.
  4. Your app should always provide one or more touchable, UI elements that allows users to quickly find what they’re looking for.

Please do your part to put an end to Human Table Scanning by adding search and filtering functionality to your mobile apps.

– Rob

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