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How do you all fit so much onto a windows form?

Hi,

I have real trouble trying to fit text boxes etc.. onto a windows form yet programs like visual studio .net seem to cram so much stuff into the window.

What font sizes, line spacing, grid dimensions should I be using?

Manwhocannotputmuchontohisforms
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

dude, why don't you experience and play with it a little? hmm? too tough? grrhh.


Wednesday, March 03, 2004

It's just a LOT of tedious trial and error. No magic and no automated tools. as far as I know.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Have you read Joels usability book yet?

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000057.html

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

One early mistake to make is to take a data driven view of the design.

You see that you have 30 fields, and you try to fit them all on the form.

With the UI you should take a task driven view.  Try to imagine what the user will be doing.  What data is really needed for them to accomplish the task?  What data should be available if needed, but initially tucked out of the way?

Overall you should be aiming for as little as possible on the form, so that it has a clear purpose and is easy to use.

Its all in the book.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I will take a look at the book.

My point was not that I couldn't be bothered to try, but just that it looked like I was missing some default settings which would make it easier thats all.

You are probably right. I do look at forms from a data point of view.

Manwhocannotputmuchontohisforms
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Use lots of tabs especially tabs inside tabs.

pdq
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Oy vey, save me from tabbed dialogs and ordinary users.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

"Oy vey, save me from tabbed dialogs and ordinary users. "

Yeah, because putting everything on a single page that scrolls 30 feet is so much more appealing.

Tab
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Ummmmm, no there are alternatives, try again.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, March 04, 2004

So, what are the alternatives??

Don't put Tabs inside of Tabs though, that's just ugly and un-called for.  Spawn a new dialog to edit that data instead.

One alternative that I can think of is a tree menu (like the Mozilla settings dialog).

Although, there's nothing easier than the MS Tabbed Dialog (Remember to put a frame on each Tab and then put all the controls inside of the frame, then only enable the frame of the current tab in TabDialog_Click(), otherwise when you focus-cycle the focus goes off the current tab to controls on other tabs!)

Wayne
Thursday, March 04, 2004

I can't believe you guys thought I was serious.

Check out http://digilander.libero.it/chiediloapippo/Engineering/iarchitect/mshame.htm

for some really bad examples.

pdq
Thursday, March 04, 2004

No I didn't think you were serious with tabs within tabs :-),

But I do hate tabbed dialogs.

If you need to hide information do it in a way that it will be disclosed in the workflow of the user's process.

If you have a form which has fairly static information, say an account's address don't have that on a form with tabs such that when they want to see more detail or transactions they have to lose the address as well.

Tabs are just a way of confusing people.  How many times have you sat at one of those system dialogs in Win2k thinking its on one of these somewhere, nope not that, hmmm seen that one before, oh here we go round again.

Tabs require the user to remember what each tab is and largely what's on each tab.  Frequently when user's are undertaking a task on a computer they acquire the short term memory of a goldfish.  The trick is to lead them sanely from point to point (no not a Wizard, quiet at the back) such that they accrue the data or work through the process naturally.

And of course they can interrupt and digress half way through and when they come back the geography should be exactly the same it was when they left it.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, March 04, 2004

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