I'd like to see more of is the UI we're familiar with in Outlook/Jive/Facebook where, if you type a name (e.g., Baruch Sachs), it's obvious to the user that the name is linked -- or, otherwise, force a listed value to be sent.
In our current world, I have on one hand an application using dropdowns in a table, where an autocomplete would be more efficient -- and, on the other hand, an v7 application using a "pick operator" autocomplete, which doesn't get validated. Both of these should be using a combobox.
Are there ways to enable this today? Is this in the pipeline for the future?
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Until there is a component like you describe, one option that works for a subset of use cases is to bind the auto-complete to a property with class key validation defined on the property. It is less than ideal, but it works for a small set of use cases where the referenced class has a single part key and is actually something you are OK showing on your form (pick operator comes to mind as an example where showing the operator ID might be OK).