Ribbons, Goldenseal & Screen Size (Jan 27)

We started out designing software for the small monitors of the 1980s (Mac Plus was 512 x 342, and VGA was 640 x 480). It was tough fitting everything onto such a small screen, and we spent a lot of time trying to save a pixel or two.

Goldenseal was first designed for 800 x 640 monitors, then we upped it to 1024 x 768.  One estimate alone could fill up that much space, so we had to ‘hide’ most of the navigation in the menu bar at the top.  Running a business requires a few hundred possible screens and actions, so we split them up into 9 or 10 menus, with divider bars and submenus to organize them a little. It worked, but was relatively unfriendly for beginners, and not the ideal way to navigate through your company info.

These days, 1920 x 1080 is common for desktop screens: equal to 2 million pixels, 11 Mac Plus screens, or almost 7 VGAs.  Even cheap laptops have a million pixels to work with. Goldenseal Pro can stretch out now. We can use that extra space to make it easier to use.

Most of the menu commands are moving to the outline view on the left (called a tree view in Windows). It makes them easier to find, and easier to organize. There will be a Favorites folder where you can put your most common tasks, ready to access with a single click.

Almost all of the other menu commands can also move. Some will be on-screen buttons, and some will reside in right-click menus.

We started work on a Windows toolbar, but soon discovered ribbons. They are basically a fatter toolbar that also replace the pull-down menus. Now standard in MS Office. They look perfect for Goldenseal Pro. Everything on the left side and/or top of our current screens can go there, plus the few remaining commands in the top menus.

The Mac does not have ribbons built into Cocoa, and Apple’s OS design does not seem to be headed that way.  That means it’s going to be a design challenge to get Goldenseal Pro to look similar on the two platforms, but also stay true to the individual spirits of Mac & Windows. We’ll be working on it gradually over the next month or 2, while we also tackle the nitty-gritty of getting smaller details to work.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director

Author: Dennis Kolva

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