KWizCom's Cascading Lookup Plus, the "Cadillac" of All Cascading List Products

Written by Mike Ferrara. Posted in SharePoint Web Parts

review4 (Rating: 4 out of 5)

One column type missing from SharePoint that I've always found useful is the cascading list. Not only is a cascading list a staple field type on most web forms, but it is a big favorite with end users. It magically narrows down your choices on the next column once you've made a selection from the previous column! Big deal right? We've seen these things for years on the web, but Microsoft just did not feel comfortable with making these an out-of-the-box option. Luckily for us, we've got options from 3rd party developers...

This review covers KWizCom's Cascading Lookup Plus field type. Feature-wise, this is really the Cadillac of cascading list products available as it has a ton of options not available in the others. But with that honor, it comes with a more expensive $799 per site license price tag.

Pros

In addition to basic cascading list functionality, the product also includes the following:

  • Two-way lookups, which are useful for a customer's order history
  • Cross-site lookups of any list
  • Filtered lookups
  • Many skins to choose from for the drop down lists
  • Compatible with FireFox and Chrome

As you'd expect this product allows you to configure multiple cascading columns that are dependent on each other. Whether you want your users to effortlessly make selections on a form or accurately browse the appropriate metadata fields in a DMS, then this is a field type that you'll want. The image below shows a basic setup of cascading lists with the Office 2007 skin applied. Warning: If you are a Red Sox fan, then you will more than likely not enjoy my example list that includes my favorite Yankees players.

 

cascading-lookup1

 

cascading-lookup2

Notice that after I've selected the appropriate division, only the teams within the AL East division are shown.

As mentioned above, this product will also allow you to create relational two-way lookups on lists. This is really useful if you have an order entry system within SharePoint. I did not have time to re-create this scenario for myself, but the image below shows the developers’ usage of this option.

 

cascading-lookup3


The other feature that I personally liked over the competition is the ability to apply skins with the combo boxes. This adds a lot to the end-user experience, and it requires no administrative overhead. Since this product doubles as a generic cross-site lookup, then you could replace all of your OOTB SharePoint lookups with this one to utilize the skins. You do not have to use the cascading or two-way lookup features with this product to utilize basic lookup. Check out some of the available skins below.

 

cascading-lookup4

Cons

Although this product is certainly feature-rich, it isn't without fault. For most organizations looking for cascading list functionality, the price may be a little bit too high. It would be nice if there was a cheaper cascading columns-only version.

Secondly, at the time of this article, there are a lot of problems when trying to include cascading columns within site templates. In my testing, it was completely unusable with document libraries. It may be possible to utilize cascading columns within lists without this issue, but as far document libraries go, you will have to remove the columns and re-create them in new sites.

Lastly, there is little to no documentation on how to configure cascading columns correctly. Just about every 3rd party cascading column product I've used accomplishes this functionality differently, so I needed to know how this product worked. Unfortunately, it took an email from support to send me screenshots of how to do this. Documentation is a no-brainer for an online sales experience, so hopefully this will be corrected.

Bottom Line

This is a great product that really combines three major features that can be useful to any SharePoint implementation. The skins are a plus, and there are a ton of options when you configure your lists with this field type. This product receives 4 stars though for the lack of documentation and the problems encountered when using site templates. If these two issues are addressed, then it easily becomes a 5 star product.

 
Mike Ferrara
Author: Mike FerraraWebsite: http://www.hyperiongp.com
Mike Ferrara has over 12 years of experience with information systems integration, and specializes in Enterprise Content Management on SharePoint. Mike has a deep understanding of legal technology and how it interfaces with digital content.

Comments   

 
# Adam Crawford 2010-11-09 08:31
Does anyone know where there is some documentation about configuring the columns correctly?
I will blog on how to do this myself, once I figure it out but its suprisingly tricky.
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# matt@farleyfamily.net 2010-01-06 08:35
This can be done for free client-side using the javascript library here: http://spservices.codeplex.com/wikipage?title=%24%28%29.SPServices.SPCascadeDropdowns&referringTitle=Documentation
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# Agitprop 2009-11-06 05:49
Other vendors have similar products, but seem to be reluctant to make their tools (especially things like custom columns , e.g., cascading dropdowns) work with SPD. We bought another vendor's version of this product, and it would break customized pages and even prevent the creation of custom list forms. Not acceptable, so now I tend to not buy 3rd party tools such as this.

Kwizcom has some nifty tools, but I look at them as "80%" - most of the time they work, but there's that nagging 20%, and it takes months for them to decide your issue is significant enought to warrant fixing. I have also had products from them that were just not well developed or (apparently) even tested. I love their innovation, but I'm not jazzed about the delivery. The lack of documentation is typical, and a cautionary tale for anyone buying products from 3rd party WP/control vendors.
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# Benoit 2009-10-02 09:45
Indeed a MAIN down-side to this product is that you have to set this column in each library you create.
The best solution would be to enable use of it in Content Types (impossible now, as it seems CTs are not considered as actual 'lists'). Then you would set the cascade once and it would be reproduced in any library using the CT.
Second best would be to allow the cascade to be reproduced when you save the library as template. When you do this, it does remember the column was a 'cascading' but the detailed settings (to which lookup list to point, etc.) are lost.
Conclusion: this is a nice toy that could have served as a major content management enabler.
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