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Advanced Silverlight Navigation Scenarios - Part 2 (Silverlight TV #39)

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In the second of two navigation videos we filmed, Karl Shifflett joins John Papa to demonstrate how he made some simple extensions to the navigation API in Silverlight in order to solve very common business problems. Karl demonstrates how to navigate away from a screen and leave markers indicating that the screen is still active even though it is hidden. He also demonstrates how to manage state while navigating between different pages.

This episode is jam packed with a ton of great navigation strategies and tips that you won't want to miss.

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  • JHOJHO

    I really like Karl's enthusiasm!  This is awesome stuff for LOB really got my creative juices flowing!

  • DataTemplates are just awesome! Whole Silverlight is! I understand your joy! Smiley

     

    Realy interesting show. Thanks for the links and stuff. 

  • DCMonkeyDCMonkey What?!?

    Great video but I have some concerns about this "non-linear navigation" pattern. I was initially excited to see Billy Hollis' demo on DNRTv as well as Karl's BBQShack  implementation, but I'm starting to think NLN is more of a workaround for Silverlight's limitations rather than an optimal solution for multitasking within a single app.

     

    With a true desktop app you can spawn real top-level windows for record editing or standalone tasks and take advantage of the OS's window management features to multitask, especially on Windows 7 with its new Taskbar and Aero Snap features. If window clutter is a concern you could go with a tabbed UI like in modern browsers, or even better, allow drag and drop switching between both models as in Google's Chrome browser.

     

    With a traditional web app (assuming it doesn't use popups) you can rely on the browser itself to open tabs/windows from links to other parts or your app by middle/right clicking on said links and multitask that way.

     

    I'm guessing that these two methods are impractical with a Silverlight app.

     

    On another note, I'm curious to know how this new SL4 navigation stuff compares to WPF's navigation features and whether any of this will (or should) make its way back into WPF.

     

  • karl1406karl1406 Hopeless .NET, WPF fanatic.

    JHO,

     

    Thank you, have a great day,

     

    Karl

  • karl1406karl1406 Hopeless .NET, WPF fanatic.

    CrispYY,

     

    We share a common passion and love for the platform.

     

    Cheers,

     

    Karl

  • karl1406karl1406 Hopeless .NET, WPF fanatic.

    DCMonkey,

     

    Thanks for your comments and point of view.

     

    I'm not a fan of LOB apps that spawn multiple windows.  I've seen business app end users desktops cluttered with a mess of windows that leads to all sorts of problems.  Some of the problems are due to training and using, some because of the software allowing the non-advanced computer user the ability to over extend themselves.

     

    I think the target user is a prime consideration when choosing a navigation solution.

     

    Good points.  If you have an example to share that demo's what you wrote about, please share.  Always interested in different approaches.

     

    Cheers,

     

    Karl

  • DCMonkeyDCMonkey What?!?

    Something along these lines is what I'm picturing:

     

     

     

    The main tab would contain all of your search screens and such and the additional tabs would be opened for detail screens, reports, and complex multiscreen tasks. Those detail tabs could also be dragged away to create top level windows for when you want to refer to one window while working in another. Consider it a hybrid between a completely navigational app and one where every screen is opened in a new tab (or window).

     

    I worry that by hiding the clutter behind one or more small numbers or badges in the NLN UI, a user could get themselves deep into a stack of opened records without noticing it. With this hybrid tabbed browser style approach you would notice all the tabs you've piled up at the top of the window.

     

    One advantage of your BBQShack and Hollis' design is that the navigation icons are always accessible from any screen whereas mine are only on the main tab.

  • Thanks for your comments and point of view. window clutter is a concern you could go with a tabbed UI like in modern browsers, or even better, allow drag and drop switching between both models as in Google's Chrome browser.

    Idol Lash

  • karl1406karl1406 Hopeless .NET, WPF fanatic.

    DCMonkey,

     

    NLN is a concept that can be implemented in many ways.

     

    Does your approach allow the user to have multiple forms open at once?  ex, sales, billing and a report?  Does form get torn down if you navigate away from it?

     

    Multitasking is a driving force behind NLN.  Also, being able to navigate to anywhere all the time is important.

     

    Tearing off could be cool for some users with multiple monitors.  I wrote software for small city governements and water authorities.  A 19" monitor was standard there.

     

    I also have  Zune style application navigation bar that encapsulates navigation and open forms. 

     

    I think the target user is a prime consideration when choosing a navigation solution.

     

    Cheers,

     

    Karl

     

  • karl1406karl1406 Hopeless .NET, WPF fanatic.

    Mark,

     

    Thanks for your comments too.  The target user is a prime consideration for application navigation.  In my career in LOB development, simple worked better.

     

    Billy Hollis and crew spent a long time working with non-power users to develop and refine his approach.

     

    What would be an interesting study is to get 4-6 users from the business work and do a usability study.

     

    I'm always open to learning new approaches.

     

    Cheers,

     

    Karl

  • DCMonkeyDCMonkey What?!?

    "NLN is a concept that can be implemented in many ways."

     

    True. My approach is still NLNish and is not all that different from yours. I'm just presenting the lists of open items as tabs accross the top of the window instead of of hiding them behind one or more numbers or in listsboxes somewhere in the UI. In fact, the Contoso App screen shot that I borrowed for my mockup appears to use NLN in the form of the open customers list at the top left. You can see I was experimenting with wher one could put the number of open items in such a UI with that red badge next to "Employees".  One of my concerns was that the app I have in mind would have a two level menu like the Zune client rather than the one level menu of modules that the Contoso App has. Where would the badges go in such a design?

     

    "Does your approach allow the user to have multiple forms open at once?  ex, sales, billing and a report?  Does form get torn down if you navigate away from it?"

     

    Yes, yes, and no.

    Individual invoices, bills, or reports would be opened as tabs across the top of the window. The screens for looking up invoices, bills or available reports would all be contained in the leftmost tab, though I could imagine allowing one to open another instance of that tab as well, say by middle clicking one of the module links.

  • Nice job Karl!  It's great to see what you've done with the navigation framework. Looks like Navigatus has come a long way.  I'll definitely need to check out the new content loader. Thanks again for the video!

     

    David Garcia

  • [edit]
    I posted my question to Karl's blog instead of here.

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