Documents vs. Windows

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Documents vs. Windows

Published by on January 31st 2009.

A couple of years ago, the decision was made to adopt the so called “multiple single document interface” used for example by Microsoft Word 2000, where each open document gets its own top-level window. Has the time come to change this approach?

What are the options?

As far as I know, there are 3 major approaches how to handle multiple documents.

Windows within the main frame

Multiple document interface of MS Word 97

This is the classic approach used by many older applications. There is one top level window and one smaller window per open document inside the main frame. There usually is the possibility to maximize one of the sub-windows and hide the others.

One window per document

Multiple single document interface in RWIE

Each document has its own window and the Windows taskbar is used to switch the active window. RealWord Designer-based applications are currently using this scheme.

Tabbed interface

Tabbed document interface in Google Chrome

There is only one top-level window and it contains one tab per open document. Unlike the classic approach, multiple documents cannot be displayed at once, but it is easier to switch documents. An example of a tabbed application is the Google Chrome browser.

Your opinion is needed…

While the classic approach (#1) might be good for experienced computer users, it is unsuitable for the average ones. Also, because RealWorld applications are able to work with documents of different types, it would be hard to make it work. Hence, this approach is ruled out.

The question is: should the future version continue to show each document in its own window or should we switch to the tabbed interface?

Please, let me know your opinion in the comments section.This change would affect all RW apps.

Recent comments

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user icon Anonymous on March 1st 2009


user icon Anonymous on March 2nd 2009

Ya it would be way better and easier to use.

user icon Anonymous on March 6th 2009

The tabbed interface would be more efficent. You could see what files you have open more readly and still be able to use the whole screen. With the window within a window method you cant see what files your working with without shrinking the current window. With the multiple programs type the files grouped in tab is ok but I agree with the above comment about using to much of the systems resources. Tabs are great when combining and editing different files at the same time. Its like flipping between pages in a book

user icon Anonymous on March 7th 2009

The tabbed interface would be better.

user icon Anonymous on March 12th 2009

I prefer tabs but would it be possible to allow for dragging a window to a tab and vise-versa. I don’t mean only one or the other but a mix both. In other words have a window with tabs and a window or windows without tabs existing at the same time. A windows could be dragged in converted to a tab and a tab could be dragged out converted to a window at will.

user icon Anonymous on March 13th 2009

I would like a tabbed interface.

user icon Anonymous on March 14th 2009

The program is great and powerful. However, I would suggest using tabs for future versions. However, I would like to limit the number of tabs in one window.

user icon Anonymous on March 25th 2009

Tabs. Definitely.

user icon Club559 registered user on March 27th 2009

I shall give my opinion in percentages.
Tabbed: %50
Windows In Main Frame: %45
Window By Window: %5

user icon Vlasta site administrator on March 30th 2009

Thanks to all for your opinions. It seems that tabs would be a good thing and I will add them to the long term plan. They may not make it into the next version, but who knows…

user icon Anonymous
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