Floating panels vs. resizable splitter

28 May 2008 - 4:32am
6 years ago
3 replies
635 reads
Oleg Krupnov
2008

In Adobe apps, you often find all auxiliary windows appearing as floating
windows - palettes, properties, layers etc.

In Microsoft apps, you often find the auxiliary windows docked to the sides
of the main window with movable splitters between them.

Which approach you like better and why? Do you think one can combine the
both approaches? I am curious how it is usually implemented in Mac apps (I
haven't got one yet)?

I currently tend to think that the splitter approach works well when the two
split views are equally important, and the floating palettes work better for
not-so-important or temporarily used windows.
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Comments

28 May 2008 - 5:16am
Oleg Krupnov
2008

Thanks for the link!

The tutorial does not however show examples when a (non-transparent)
inspector window is shown at the same time with the document window. In
OmniGraffle screenshots I saw the panel windows docked to the outer bounds
of the document. Is it a common pattern in Mac OS? Because in Adobe apps the
panels overlap the document window, at least in Windows.
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28 May 2008 - 5:02am
Duncan Brown
2008

Oleg Krupnov wrote:
>
> ...
> I am curious how it is usually implemented in Mac apps (I haven't got one
> yet)?
> ...
>

In place of the 'real thing' this is a good overview of the Mac OSX User
Experience:

http://developer.apple.com/documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/OSXHIGuidelines/XHIGIntro/chapter_1_section_1.html

Look at: Windows/Panels

Duncan
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28 May 2008 - 11:48am
Michael Micheletti
2006

On Wed, May 28, 2008 at 2:32 AM, Oleg Krupnov <oleg.krupnov at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Which approach you like better and why? Do you think one can combine the
> both approaches?

I work in Windows mostly and prefer floating palettes, but they seem to be
difficult to implement well. Visio allows both docked and undocked shape
palettes, but why are the undocked shape windows alternately really short or
stretched off the bottom of the monitor? Dreamweaver CS has distracting
undocked tool windows that blink into or out of existence when the app loses
focus. Visual Studio 2005 permits undocked or docked tool windows, but
sometimes the undocked windows stay visible when the main app window is
minimized. VS2005 lets you dock nearly every window in nearly every
location, but its strange directional arrow overlay controls are intrusive
and clumsy. Ask a developer to show docking and undocking in Visual Studio
2005 sometime.

It seems like not enough usability study time or QA test time is given to
projects involving floating tool windows, at least on the Windows platform.
I keep hoping application designers and developers will take the time needed
to get this right, especially now that larger multi-monitor display setups
are becoming more widespread.

Michael Micheletti

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