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Pop Up Windows in Web Applications

I know we all hate pop ups for websites, but what about web applications?

I’m mainly thinking about the _Create New_ page.

For example, I click a button to create a new item and instead of taking me to a page with forms to create the item, a page pops up with the forms.

The benefit is that while I’m creating this item, I can reference back to the application.

I asked some people already and most are adverse to it--or at the very least, find it strange.

But it’s the standard for desktop apps like Outlook. So why is it so strange for a web application?

Thoughts? Would you find it useful? Or just annoying?
Sunday, March 05, 2006
You're refering to dialog boxes, and probably more specifically modal dialog boxes as their used in most windows apps. Since they are blocked by some sort of pop-up blocker on nearly every computer straight pop-ups wouldn't be a good choice for any web app, but there are way of doing it internally within the page. Another poster here has started a new uISV and has a product that does this:
--Josh Send private email
Sunday, March 05, 2006
"But it’s the standard for desktop apps like Outlook. So why is it so strange for a web application?"

One reason is because it isn't standardized. Last time I checked, there was no standard way to do a MODAL popup window. IE requires one syntax and Mozilla and such required a different syntax. You can easily open a standard popup window that isn't modal but the user is potentially going to lose it and not be able to find it again. Also, if the window isn't modal then the user can change the parent page behind the popup making it pretty much useless (how could it make calls or return data back to the originating window if the user has navigated to another page).

With all that said, I've seen good uses of these types of windows in corporate web applications. But not very often in consumer web apps.
Turtle Rustler
Sunday, March 05, 2006
The main problem is the web was never design to handle such apps.  And the browser is a poor application container IMHO.  Great for viewing data, poor for data entry and maintenance.

Sunday, March 05, 2006
So why haven't we seen something emerge?

Something with much of the flexibility of the web browser, but designed for applications rather than hyperlinked documents.  Native layout control without the kludging of tables or CSS, but some flow-based formatting perhaps.  Good security, but a programmable client.  A clean way to handle dialogs.  Answers to the problems AJAX, Comet, etc. etc. try to band-aid.  Clean ways to handle both stateless and stateful applications.

Of course to be effective we'd want to avoid the browser wars all over again.  Since this leaves no room for "innovation" there'd be no reason for multiple clients to exist - they'd fragment the environment before it ever took off.

I suppose in a sense this is what Java and .Net both wanted to do on the desktop.  Oh well.
Cur Mudgeon
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Thanks for the replies!

I was actually thinking of a non-modal popup window (so basically a standard pop-up)

The idea is that while I'm using this popup window to create a new item, I can use the parent for reference.

An example would be if I was using outlook to create a new Task. While I'm creating a new task, I can "navigate" to the Calendar and use the info there to create my new task.

So basically it emulates a desktop application in that way.

But like other's have said, I'm also concerned about popup blockers. The DHTML solution (a layered window) is an alterntive. But the problem is that a layered window would not allow you to reference the parent window (i.e. once you navigate away from that page, the popup is gone).
Sunday, March 05, 2006
"So why haven't we seen something emerge?

Something with much of the flexibility of the web browser, but designed for applications rather than hyperlinked documents."

Sure we have -- at least two contenders. They're called XUL and XAML.
Berislav Lopac Send private email
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Don't forget MXML. Flex appears to be making a big kick for attention. There's a lot of hype with it, but also some interesting ideas behind MXML and Actionscript 3.0.
Monday, March 06, 2006
I hate popups for everything.

I'm hard pressed to think of a legitimate use for a dialog box, modal or modeless, that can't be done better some other way.
Monday, March 06, 2006

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