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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Appeon Mobile - MDI

** Appeon Mobile Beta 1.0 News **

Appeon Mobile Stays True to MDI

    The Multiple Document Interface is alive and well on the iPad thanks to Appeon Mobile's implementation of true PowerBuilder "feature for feature" support! The MDI interface became a standard from the onset of MS-Windows 3.1 and began its life in the PowerBuilder realm since version 2.0. The business community embraced the interface as it has a natural support for allowing users to compare similar pieces of information side by side, track multiple units of open work and arrange / locate these work units to suite the processing needs & flow.

Example of Cascade arrangement request.

    When Sybase was building their WebForms feature support for PowerBuilder, they had the option to implement the MDI interface GUI standard. In fact, I saw a working version in the early days of PB 11.0 Alpha that implemented the MDI interface. However, between the Alpha release and the official Beta - Sybase dropped MDI support and went with the multi-tabpage GUI look and feel. During the Beta for PB 11.0 many testers complained about the lack of MDI support. Since PB 11.0's production release, even many business users I have spoken to have rejected the Webform's feature set because of the lack of MDI support in the web browser. Again, for the main reason of not being able to see two similar data entity's side-by-side.

Example of a "Tile Horizontal" request.

    In the PocketBuilder (PK) days on Windows Mobile O/S, the MDI look & feel was not supported by the native operating system - thus PK did not support MDI for that reason. However, I was able to emulate the MDI feature set in my STD Foundation Class framework. The framework was used in many PK applications and the feedback I received on having the MDI features enabled in their PK applications was very positive!

Appeon Mobile extends the "Window" menu pull-down list of active sheets!

  The Appeon Mobile system displays the active open sheet window's title text from the "System Icon" of the Appeon Mobile operating shell. The Window list displays the MDI Frame window title first and then each open sheet (child MDI window) in successive order as they were opened. This implementation allows the iOS application user to navigate to any active sheet in any order. The application user may also close or bring background MDI child windows to the foreground from this feature as well.

Example of MDI Toolbar handling in Appeon Mobile

   Any MDI application may utilize a toolbar on the MDI Frame window and also another toolbar on any active MDI Child window as well. A native MS-Windows MDI application will always display the MDI frame and active Child toolbars in sequence. The Appeon Mobile implementation displays a partial representation of the first toolbar on the right side of the main application title (like a preview) and then displays the full toolbar contents when the user taps on the toolbar ">;" activation symbol. As the iOS application user changes the active MDI Child window, the Appeon Mobile changes the lower toolbar icons to suite just like its genuine MS-Window's counter-part.

Example of a "Tile Vertical" request.
Example of drop-down Menu support in Appeon Mobile

  Besides the full support for tiling the MDI child windows horizontally, vertically or cascaded - Appeon Mobile supports full drop(pull) down menu support from the Menu Icon on the Appeon Mobile application. The menu that drops follows proper MDI rules in that the MDI Frame's menu drops when the "Menu" icon is tapped if only the MDI frame is present. If an MDI Child is open, the Menu Icon displays the MDI Child's menu when tapped and this changes as each open MDI Child window is re-activated.
Example of a dialog's Control Menu implementation in Appeon Mobile

   Each MDI Child or even Response / Pop-Up window shows a Control Menu on each MDI Child's top right-hand side. Tapping this area allows the Appeon Mobile application to present the standard Minimize, Maximize or Close options that real MDI appications on MS-Windows have always supported. The same feature set is fully supported by the Appeon Mobile application and even allows the iOS user to "Restore" the MDI Child windows size when is a Minimized or Maximized state.

  Like Appeon Mobile, Appeon Web implements the full MDI feature set inside your Web Browser - eclipsing in my opinion - the native PB Webform application just in the MDI support alone. Appeon Web though takes your PB application's web experience far beyond what the Webform's features support for a true proper business user experince. Its so refreshing to see that Appeon Coporation is also taking this attention to detail approach in their iOS application design and support as well.

  Well done Appeon!

Note: you can always implement the multi-tabpage look and feel in your Appeon Mobile or Appeon Web application as well. The Appeon product is nice in that it does not force the PowerBuilder developer to a particular user interface pattern. Instead, it allows the PB developer to design the web or mobile applciation to suite their business user's needs!

Regards ... Chris

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