[HIG] Re: [Usability]Question on Multiple Document Interfaces

On Thu, 2002-08-22 at 17:12, Bart Kelsey wrote:

> Anyway, my original question still stands:  I understand why new users 
> might not want an MDI, but why not allow it as an option to be turned on 
> in Preferences?

To be honest, I'm not one of the strongest opponents of MDI, and I think
many of the "inherent usability problems" traditionally associated with
it apply to what Microsoft call MDI, rather than the tabbed model we're
talking about here (which is what Microsoft calls the 'Workbook'
model).  So I'll leave the more staunch opponents to make the more
convincing arguments...

I do agree with the rest of the HIG team though that ideally, MDI is
something that the window manager rather than the application should
deal with-- acting on the user's preferences of course-- for the reasons
Dave and others have pointed out.  This could still mean presenting the
same sort of tabbed interface as you see now.  Or if you preferred, it
could just group the windows more loosely so that they all
minimized/restored together.  Or it could just group them on the
tasklist and let you treat them as individual windows.

Extending the concept a bit further, you could conceivably drag a
document tab from one application's window to another, allowing you to
group projects together in one window, rather than applications.  (MS
Office used to have a "binders" feature that attempted this, but they
never quite pulled it off... I don't know if it's still hanging on in
Office XP or not).

We recognise that window managers that can do all this aren't going to
appear overnight, however, otherwise we wouldn't have given any MDI
guidelines in the HIG at all :)


CALUM BENSON, Usability Engineer       Sun Microsystems Ireland
mailto:calum benson ireland sun com    Desktop Engineering Group
http://www.sun.ie                      +353 1 819 9771

Any opinions are personal and not necessarily those of Sun Microsystems

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