Breakdown Tables (Feb 28)

Last week we added top controls to the Mac version, so it looked sort of like a Windows ribbon. It didn’t take long to find that it was too cluttered, and not all that useful.  So the main window got one more redesign, and we are quite happy with the final product.  It’s possible we will remove ribbons from the Windows app also, but we’ll get the Mac interface further along before we go back and decide on the final Windows appearance.  It’s kind of a leap-frog process, jumping between platforms every few weeks.

There is still one big design issue left, which is the breakdown tables for itemizing smaller details in Estimates and other records. 

When we first wrote Goldenseal estimating/accounting software, none of the C++ libraries had good tables. We had to write that interface from scratch, and probably spent a programmer-year or two on it.  Tables have complicated code that has not aged well. Fortunately, both Cocoa and MFC have mature table classes.  We can get reliable appearance, scroll-wheel support, column sorting, and other pleasant features for much less work than the original.

The big design question is, where to put them?  Currently, Goldenseal switches between entirely different layouts when you click the Breakdown popup on the left side of the screen. There are at least two different types of tables that can sit below the other fields, plus a no-table view.

Many users have found that system confusing, so we probably will simplify to a single layout, with just one type of breakdown table. Cocoa has “drawers” that can open out to the right, and that seems like a great place to put the (optional) breakdowns.  It fits particularly well with the new single-window setup, and today’s wider screens.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director
Turtlesoft.com

 

Author: Dennis Kolva

Programming Director for Turtle Creek Software. Design & planning of accounting and estimating software.