: Lionel LEESER
But for a feature that is already more than a year old, it is
surprising to see that so few people use it and experimenting with it
in real cases.
SDI mode, is not just a simple feature, not a check box feature.
While it might look like “just click a check box, finished”, in real live, it requires a total rewrite of the user interface of an application. And not just technical rewrite, also a redesign of user interface, of how to use the application.
Just take a look on the process of Microsoft Office in the last 10 years. They did not simply changed, they did it application by application, with Outlook last.
If your application handles isolated documents, like text files, SDI mode is easy to implement.
But if you handle complex processes, like an ERP system, you cannot simple open another “instance” (read document or read window).
And, again Microsoft Office as example, the concept of a menu bar needs major thinking. Microsoft decided to switch to “ribbons” to solve this. And I assume you remember the very emotional discussion for Office 2007 when this started.
So, for a 4D app, this means, don’t use menu bar any more. Don’t use a general “tool bar” anymore (use more ribbon like included tool bars in the window itself, not a main one on top of the monitor).
Redesign the application to follow the concept of instances, like Microsoft Word.
Or find another way how to redesign.
Whatever you want to do, it is a huge interface work (followed by coding and customer training).
Feature is a year old? So what? I think that will take - similar to Office - most professional developers a similar time - that could be 10 years.
For the internal application we use in Germany, i tried the instance concept.
On startup I open one window. That window can display customers, or invoices, or licenses, the user can switch. Everything in that single window.
The user can open another window. This is a kind of another instance. It can also display customers or invoices and so on. Another one? Why not. Similar as Word can open another document. Each “instance” is isolated and work on its own - but support drag&drop between.
But it usually are 2 windows. Sometimes 3. Not more. Else the user will be confused and “searches” the windows. Reminder, with MDI, if you click on one, all comes back to front. With SDI, only the clicked one comes to front. So you could see a 4D window, behind an Outlook window, then a 4D window, then everything else covered by an Excel window (with more 4D windows behind). Simply moving to SDI does not work. The application needs to be redesigned to reduce the number of working windows…
That concept worked for us quite well and was not difficult to develop. Was it the best idea?
Don’t know (yet)
Outlook is another approach.
It would be one window to handle the main application.
Like on the left a list allowing to switch between invoice, customer, etc.
Next to that list another list box showing a list of invoices, customers, etc.
And on the very right, a preview area.
Whatever record is selected, here we show the details of this record.
To do so, we could imagine a subform, where the content (input form) is changed when the user selects another table. It would even allow to edit.
Then the user double click a record in the list, another window is opened, a window only for the detail form.
Very different concept as “instances”, following the concept of Outlook (mail list - preview or double click for full window). This gives “only” one list, but many input windows.
Is that better for the end user? Don’t know, but looks interesting.
Before that would be difficult to code, with ORDA it would be much easier, all could even be done in a single process.
I like that idea a lot and wish I could find the time to rewrite our internal app just to see that in action, to see how the end users would like it. I think that has potential.
Enabling SDI is not the problem. Creating an application helping the customer to be more productive, that’s the challenge.
At least I see it like that.