I personally prefer html:optionsCollection over html:options. The latter tag's attributes are, as you have seen, a bit confusing to use. The html:optionsCollection attributes, on the other hand, are more straightforward and intuitive.
You can read the JSP like so:
create a drop down; the value selected for this dropdown should go into the "probationOfficer" property of the form.
The options for the dropdown are in the Collection returned by the "officers" property of the form. The label to show for the options should be the "name" of each officer in the collection. The value to use to set the enclosing "select" tag when a selection is made is the "id" of the officer selected. [ January 04, 2005: Message edited by: Junilu Lacar ]
The best ideas are the crazy ones. If you have a crazy idea and it works, it's really valuable.—Kent Beck