Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tabbed document interface
In graphical user interfaces in computer applications, a tabbed document interface (TDI) is one that relies on tabbed panes to hold child windows. This style of interface may work in conjunction with a full multiple document interface (MDI) or as an alternative. In the latter case, it is more limited than MDI: it is only possible to display only one child window at a time in the parent window; they cannot be tiled or cascaded (typical MDI operations). Hence, some critize that TDI is not really MDI, but SDI. However, in general it is still considered as MDI as multiple documents are handled at a time.
Web browsers are notable for implementing this kind of interface (called tabbed browsing). BookLink Technologies pioneered this interface design in its InternetWorks browser in 1994, an approach followed by NetCaptor, an alternative interface to Microsoft Internet Explorer. It was soon followed by Opera 4 in March 2000 (before this Opera only allowed MDI without tabs) and tabbed browsing was subsequently adopted by Mozilla and a number of others. As of March 2005, most current graphical web browsers, with the notable exception of Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (IE 7 will support it), natively support a TDI. Software, such as the freeware Crazy Browser, is available to add a TDI around Internet Explorer. OmniWeb version 5, released August 2004, includes visual tabbed browsing which displays preview images of pages in a drawer to the left or right of the main browser window.
One important advantage of the tabbed document interface is that it holds many different documents logically under the one window, instead of holding a lot of small child windows, though, if too many documents are open, the tabs can be rather difficult to manage or label. Another is that sets of related documents can be grouped within each of several windows.
Although the tabbed document interface does allow for multiple views under one window, there are problems with this interface. One such problem is dealing with many tabs at once. When a window is tabbed to a certain number that exceeds the available resolution of the monitor, the tabs clutter up much like multiple programs look like in the Menu Tray of a Windows 9x computer would.
Multi-row tabs are a second issue that will appear in menu dialogs in some programs. Dealing with multiple rows of tabs in one window has two disadvanges:
- It creates excess window clutter
- Complicates what should be an easy-to-read dialog
Finding a specific tab in a 3 or 4 level tabular interface is much like looking for a random file in your hard drive. Part of the issue with this difficulty lies in the lack of any sorting scheme. Tabs can be strewn about without any sense of order, thus looking for a tab provides no meaningful understanding of a position to a tab relative to other tabs. Additionally, the clutter created by mutiple tabs can create a dialog that is unusually small, with the tabs above it dominating the window.
Thus, tabbed windows work great in environments where there is a minimal necessity for tabs (around ten tabs or less), this scheme does not work to scale, and can quickly be as overwhelming as the multiple document interface is when applied to scale.
- Avant Browser
- Mozilla Firefox
- Crimson Editor
- Microsoft Excel
- Visual Studio .NET
- Gnome Terminal
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details