Designing a typical GUI for editing entities [desktop application]
I have little experience in developing GUI for desktop applications, but I want to develop a typical GUI for creating/editing entities (e.g. Customer, Suppliers, etc.) which would be similar for many cases and would be comfortable for the users.
After analyzing our tasks I designed the following possible options:
1) In simple cases it is possible to solve the task by using an ordinary grid:
I.e. the workflow is: On pressing the Add button, a new row is added to the grid. On pressing Delete the user is asked for confirmation if he/she really wants to delete the focused entity instance. On pressing Save all previously made changes are saved. On pressing Close the form is closed (user is asked if he/she wants to save changes before closing).
Cons: I think such a GUI will only work for very simple cases. Editing something complex in a grid is not comfortable neither for a user nor for a developer (implementing complex editing in a grid will not be trivial I think).
2) For more complex entities the following option is possible:
The grid is used here only in the read only mode. On pressing Add a modal form for filling information about a new entity is shown. On pressing OK in that form the data is validated and if everything is ok the object is added to the grid datasource. On double clicking on a grid row the same form for editing the chosen entity instance is shown.
Cons: For every entity we will have to create 2 forms.
3) Another possible option:
The grid is also in the read only mode. When focusing a row in the grid, the fields above the grid are filled and a user can edit them. On pressing Add a new entity instance (object) is created and added to the grid's datasource, then the new row is focused, fields above the grid are cleared (binding helps here), the cursor is placed to the first field and the user can start typing.
I don't see any cons here except that maybe you will not have enough place for the grid and the fields on the same form. I like this option though I don't remember that I saw it anywhere.
I tried to ask the users of my program to help me decide which GUI is better for them, but the typical answers are "I think both options are ok" or "I don't know, you decide which one is better".
Now I would like to ask people with experience in GUI design the following questions:
1) Which option do you use usually? Maybe another one (not shown above)?
2) Would be nice if you also said a couple of words about your implementation (dataset/custom business objects/binding, etc.)
3) Which cons did you notice in my options?
4) Any advice on what I can read on the subject?
Re: Designing a typical GUI for editing entities [desktop application]
The first option is better for power users, who need to enter a lot of data. You can make it such that they can easily copy-paste a whole bunch of data into the grid.
The second option is easier to use for the "average" user. There is more guidance on what to do from the GUI and due to the modal nature of adding/deleting, it's harder to do something wrong accidentally.
The third option is just convoluted, IMO.
Cheers, D Drmmr
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As long as man ascribes to himself what is merely a posibility, he will not work for the attainment of it. - P. D. Ouspensky