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This section describes common window types. Choosing the right window for the right job helps your users get the most out of your program.

Multiple Document Interface (MDI)

Clarion enables Multiple Document Interface (MDI) programs. This manages multiple documents or multiple views of the same document, each in a separate window which appears inside the main application window. If the user resizes the application window to make it smaller than the document window, the document window will appear clipped.

There are three types of windows in a typical MDI program: application, document and dialog boxes.


Application Window

The application window should usually "contain" all the other windows your program may generate. If you open a browse window, it should appear inside the application window. If a user resizes an application window to a smaller size, you may allow your other windows to appear partially outside it. Additionally, you may allow users to move moveable dialog boxes outside the application window.

Application windows should always contain a title bar that contains the name of your application. Microsoft recommends that application windows also contain resizable frames, a Control-menu box, and Minimize and Restore buttons. In Clarion, you add these attributes to the window with the Application Properties dialog.


To create an application window with Clarion, you select Frame - Multiple Document Main Menu from the Select Procedure Type – Templates dialog, Default MDI Frame in the Select Procedure Type – Defaults or select Application Main MDI Frame in the New Structure dialog, or declare an APPLICATION structure in your source code.


Document Windows and Dialog Boxes

Document windows and dialog boxes are very similar in that they are both defined as Clarion WINDOW structures. They differ in the conventional context in which they are commonly used and the conventions regarding appearance and attributes. In many cases, the difference is not distinguishable and does not matter. The generic term for both document windows and dialog boxes is "window" and that is the term used throughout this text.


Document Windows

Microsoft recommends each document window contain a title bar with the name of the document, a system menu, and a Maximize button. Optionally, you can include a minimize button. Document windows usually display data. For example, in the Windows environment, the "Main" program group window that appears when you DOUBLE-CLICK on the "Main" icon in the Program Manager’s desktop is a document window.


Dialog Boxes

The Windows design guidelines for dialog boxes are very flexible. They may be movable, or maintain a fixed position. They may have a single size, or a ‘More >>’ button to make it unfold and offer additional options. They may be modal or modeless. They may present a brief message with only an ‘OK’ option, or provide complex choices, controls, and entry options.

Here are a few pointers, which will help you design windows (Document Windows and Dialog Boxes) that are easier to use.



Using either the caption bar or static text in the window, briefly explain the function of the window, or indicate which command caused it to appear.



Set as many controls to the default setting as possible, so that you require the least amount of entry on the part of the user.



Place the most important information at the upper left, the least important at the lower right. Your users read from left to right, top to bottom—this is the natural way in which they expect to enter information.



Set the focus to the first entry box. This lets the user type a word or words at the keyboard without repositioning the cursor.



Place default buttons—the most likely user choice—on the right. This gives the user to opportunity to ‘read’ the choices on the left before presenting the ‘decision.’



When presenting a brief message, take advantage of the default icons available with the MESSAGE function. The Stop, Information, and Question icons are familiar to users from other applications.


Next: Window Elements