I'd be interested to hear of examples or ideas like that as well.
I think the best improvement I've seen is to disable scrolling after
a user clicks an item from the dropdown. Since focus remains on the
dropdown, scrolling often becomes a problem, especially for web pages
/ apps, since scrolling is generally required on most web sites. It's
pretty annoying to have the dropdown change after you make your
selection because you needed to scroll back up to some other control
or to the top level nav, etc.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
Adding functionality to dropdowns is something we explored quite a
bit on a project I worked on for E*Trade.
One function we developed was the ability to add new items to the
drop down list. We placed the function for adding a new item at the
bottom of the list in parentheses. Choosing %u201C(add new
choice)%u201D causes a small modal dialog box to appear, where the
user can create the new choice.
Another function that is accessible from a dropdown is to create
custom subsets of tables, or what we referred to as "column views."
If the user selects %u201CManage Column Views%u201D from the column
view dropdown, the first screen in a Guided Workflow appears in a
floating window. The user chooses an existing column view as the
basis for creating the new view. The user can also delete a column
view from the list on this screen. The user can also delete a column
view from the list on this screen.
I'd be happy to send you some screen shots if that would be helpful.
It is worth mentioning here that you should also NOT just function on a "drop-down" as a solution that allows the functions you are looking for. A drop-down may be a starting point, but the functions you are thinking about can also be achieved in other Web 2.0 ways such as an AJAX floating window that allows you to build on your list, show all options with checkboxes (replaces multi-select list), show all options with radio buttons (replaces single select list), add to list (replaces seperate grid control) etc.
A nice list control is used on iStockphoto's "add to lightbox" function for instance.
For me, the old Selection List is so limiting in many of these "add" and "add definition" tasks.