Contextual Mode Shifting – It’s a Thing! – Technique.

During the Keynote at the  2015 FileMaker Developers Conference in Las Vegas, NV, Andrew Lecates mentioned a development technique we have adopted. For those of you who didn’t stop by our booth, here are the details.

Often times the simplest techniques can be the most powerful. This is one of them.

So what is Contextual Mode Shifting?

Simply changing modes in FileMaker and selecting a panel on a slide control by object name. Really, that’s it. Yes.

Why is this such a big deal?

FileMaker has 4 Modes. (Browse, Find, Edit Layout and Preview) these work perfect for what they do, but we felt we needed more, but without creating more layouts.

How?

By remaining on the layout and using a slide control with multiple panels that are named objects without animation, we are able to keep the user in context, focused, and no surprises with new windows resizing windows in Windows. Slide Controls are typically used to conserver space by collapsing data, we are using them as a design decision to change modes in place. In each panel we are keeping the fields in a consistent order, with slight variations based on mode, when needed. This also increases data security, for example, Edit mode can be denied based on the logged in user. Very much an iOS like experience. Most importantly, no extra layouts. Combining this with Button Bars is really cool too, I’ll cover that in my next post. For the purpose of this post we are going to focus on the left column in Jarvis CRM, small business solution.

Reality is we need different modes for best User Experience and User Interface

  • Browse – An easy to read view, that is visually appealing, and protects data with use of merge fields.
  • Find – Search, with fields that are necessary to search the underlaying data set
  • Edit – Allows editing of fields, while keeping user focused, in Jarvis, they are transactional as well.
  • New – Creating of new records, often allowing creation of first related records, like a company contact.

Browse

Clean, ease to read, fields cannot be clicked into accidentally and modified while on the browse panel. Information is consistent.

Browse

Edit

Using global fields on the edit panel when in edit mode, keeps the data protected with transactional process that we have in place. User must Cancel or Save. Cancel rolls back. Other buttons grey out or disappear to prevent the user from navigating away.

Edit

Find

When performing a Find, the user is using the actual data fields or value lists on the find panel. User must Cancel Find or Hit the Enter or Return key.  Again, other buttons grey out or disappear to prevent the user from navigating away.

Find

New

When creating a New Record, the user is entering data into the actual field on the new panel. Additionally, in the case of accounts, they are creating the first related contact. User must Cancel (Delete Record) or Save, committing the data for this new record.  Again, other buttons grey out or disappear to prevent the user from navigating away.

New

As you can see The FileMaker Platform is really shining in it’s abilities. Internally we are constantly reviewing our solutions and the features sets of FileMaker. We have made a commitment to design and using these design techniques and the features currently available to provide the best User Experience with the cleanest User Interface across all devices. By adopting these practices, it has resulted in less code, fewer layouts and a reliable experience on different layouts. Our Customers Love it!

Have a good week!

– Joe

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2016-11-01T17:01:16+00:00 August 4th, 2015|