Running a project-based business is complicated, and we spend a lot of time thinking about how to make it easier.
The original Goldenseal design was inspired by FileMaker. There is an area on the right showing one record, and a smaller control area on the left with a ‘book’ for navigation (and a few other controls). Each type of record has its own window: Customers, Estimates, Material Purchases etc. Additional windows show reports, Pay Bills, Reconcile, Custom Layouts, and other commands. It’s easy to end up with dozens of windows scattered about the screen.
Goldenseal Pro is switching to a single-window interface. Instead of pull-down menus at the top of the screen, it has an outline (aka tree) view on the left that organizes all records, reports and actions into folders. Records still appear on the right as usual. Those two parts of the interface are already working on both Mac and Windows, and it’s a lot tidier than what we had before.
On the Mac, we have a control area at top right with the navigation controls (the ‘book’ and other controls that used to be on the left). We can easily pop in other controls: for Find command, reports, action dialogs like Pay Bills, and Custom Layouts. Everything in Goldenseal Pro can now happen in the main window, with tabs to move between recent items. If you like clutter, you can still use separate windows, but they aren’t essential any more.
On Windows, we are still experimenting with the control area. So far, there are 3 different options: a wide ribbon bar, a simpler tool bar, or a detachable/dockable tool bar. None of them look exactly like the Mac layout, but the dockable bar is closest. We are still testing them, and haven’t yet decided which to use.
One last bit of unfinished interface is the way we handle breakdown tables. They are bulky and optional, and we want a better way to show and hide them. The Mac version now has drawers that pop out from the side or bottom of the window, to show optional breakdowns. There is nothing equivalent in Windows, so we are still fiddling with that.
The MFC library comes with about 200 sample projects, demonstrating different bits of interface. We are building and trying all of them again. Maybe we will discover something that works better for the control area and tables. It will probably be another week or two before we settle on a final design.
Inventing new interface is frustrating and slow. We are also working on Mac interface whenever we want to see tangible results, quickly.