Most data entry screens on mobile devices use a single column.

This means lots of long vertical forms, where the user swipes down to display more fields to enter.  And if you happen to find a generic data entry software tool that has multiple columns, it’s usually a tablet-specific app with a hard coded number of columns that doesn’t operate dynamically.  It’s the same # of columns whether you are viewing the screen in portrait mode or landscape mode.

Dynamically switch between 1 and 2 columns

XForms is different in that it can dynamically display either a single column or 2 columns, depending on the width of the screen (which usually means flipping a tablet to landscape mode).  A single app that detects the width of the screen and displays data entry fields in either 2 columns or a single column.  It also uses form section blocks, so that the fields displayed side by side are within each section and related to that section. Take a look at this animated gif.

Our system is currently targeting 1K true pixels as the cutoff for displaying two columns of data entry fields vs a single column.  This means that even an iPad Mini in landscape mode (and larger tablets) will display dual columns.  This true pixels cutoff point (1K pixels) can be adjusted, so if your requirements differ from our default, that can be adjusted for your system.

Not just for data entry…

On a tablet, in landscape mode, you can also view the mobile dashboard records in a table format, with multiple columns displayed.  Flip the tablet into portrait mode, and it adjusts to a single column display.  Take a look at the animated gif below to get an idea of what this looks like.

Tap on a column header to sort by that column.  Tap on a row to pull up the form for that record.  Super simple and intuitive.  No user guide needed, which is how it should be.

Spend less time swiping down on a form

If your field teams are using tablets—whether those are $150 Android tablets, iPad Mini’s, or top-end ruggedized and intrinsically-safe tablets, your field crews can enter data while swiping down/scrolling half the distance when compared to most other software tools.

This feature is just another simple little improvement that makes XForms stand out from the crowd.  And while on the surface this improvement may appear like a trivial little thing, all of these little “trivial” things do add up.  Do enough of them thoughtfully, and you end up with a system that is easier and faster to use in the field, making it more likely for your field crews to adopt and actually use.  It’s one thing for management to decry “you will do XYZ” and a whole different thing when your field teams actually do “XYZ” willingly instead of reluctantly.

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