Goldenseal stores many different types of business data. There are customers, suppliers, employees, projects, purchases, estimates, sales, payroll and bank transactions. Then another 40 or 50 special items like change orders and equipment hours. Then another 70-odd small details like sales tax rates and payroll tax tables.
Navigating around in that sea of information is challenging. Goldenseal makes it easier by providing may ways to see linked info via a click or menu choice. For example, a material purchase has quick links to the supplier account and job account, plus the bank transaction that paid for it. Project accounts have buttons to view job costs, contacts and other details. Pretty much everything has a quick link to something else that’s related.
The current Goldenseal version has separate windows for each type of data. When you click a link, it opens another window for it. Most of the windows are about half the size of a laptop screen, or 1/6 of a big desktop screen. It’s easy to end up with 20 or 30 Goldenseal windows scattered about. Not the ideal way to manage a virtual desktop. It’s kinda like strewing papers across your actual desktop.
Goldenseal Pro uses an outline and tabs to organize things into a single window. You also can open separate windows just like the old style, but you probably don’t need to. The new interface is the virtual equivalent of putting your paperwork into folders and binders. Tidier. Quicker access.
With the new interface, the question is: how best to show linked records. There are five choices:
* Open a new window, just like the current version.
* Open a smaller, simpler window, with just one record and no fancy controls.
* Open a temporary panel that drops down in front of the current record.
* Add a tab for the record, and bring it to the front.
* Add a tab, and leave it somewhere behind the current record.
The past couple weeks, our staff has been experimenting with all of them. We are still deciding which are the most useful and the least annoying.
Actually, there’s a 6th choice. For a while, we showed breakdowns in a slide-out drawer on the right side. That would also be a great way to view linked records. Related and connected. Drawers used to be a standard Apple interface feature, but they are deprecated. Goldenseal Pro used them for a while despite that, but ran into bugs we couldn’t fix. An attached window may still be the ideal solution for linked records (and breakdowns), but it won’t happen for Goldenseal Pro 1.0. It will be complicated to program it from scratch, and the deadline for 64-bit conversions is coming soon.
This sort of interface design needs a few weeks of real-world testing and usage. Link display may be something that deserves a Preferences option, or a way to control how it looks via a modifier key.