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[archive] modernized user interface

[Migrated content. Thread originally posted on 02 September 2008]

I am looking for general, not technical advice. I have been an Acucobol user since the beginning, converted to the gui in the late 1990's. I attended a few acucorp classes but bascially self-taught. I think my application looks pretty good but I am ready for my third rewrite to make the interface more "window like" as I still get "Is this a windows program?" from some users. I use all the controls, grids, some active-x, etc. As an example my screens were designed to look good for the 800 x 600 resolutions but as screen sizes and resolution settings grow, not so good.
How should I proceed? I would like a consultant to take a look at my screens, etc and make suggestions. Someone up to date with the latest Acucorp release. Or should I wait until the "meld" version arrives? All opinions welcome.
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

What font do you use? If you do not use small-font (MS Sans Serif), try to change this. Will make a big difference. You are likely to have to reposition your items on the dialog, but it is worth it.
Do you make use of extensive colors? Don't. Use Windows default.
As of 8.1, there is also more extensive use of Vista styles, which can be enabled by setting a configuration variable.
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

Why not post a screen dump of your most common program on here?
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

Here are some typical screens. The look good on 800 x 640 but if used on workstations with higher resolutions, do not fill the screen,
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

Your dialogs are a bit crowded. As such increased resolution will be just for the good, allowing you to give some air to your data.
I notice you make use of the medium font for labels, I would suggest you don't. Stick with small font all over. It does not only give you more space, but it will also be consistent with other Windows applications. This will inevitably cause you some repositioning issues though.
Take a tour of the dialogs in the control panel, see how consistent they are in appearance. Have a look at the prndemox.cbl in the sample directory.

That's what I would have done for the dialogs: More air, one font.

Also, try the XP Visual styles. Either built in as with 8.0+ or using a manifest file (should be here on the forum somewhere).

I would also change the blue of your menu program to background-low(gray). This blue appearance is so much not windows, this being the first your user see of your application will set his/hers perception for the remainder of the program.
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

Thanks for your help, I will try to implement your suggestions,
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

As regards to changing to small font, making more data room on my screens, etc. Do most developers pick a resoultion and design their screens to look the best on that resolution? Then if a user chooses a different resoultion, they take what they get as far as how the screen looks? There is no magic where the screen increases proportionately when the resolution changes?
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

We wrote our own routines to handle 4 different resolution sizes and display things accordingly. There is also a screen manager that can do this for you, but I don't know a whole lot about it.
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

The layout manager that is.
Yes, this provides functionality to scale the content of a window from a starting size depending on the resize of the window.
However, lately graphical development have moved towards changing the content of a dialog rather than resizing it, when its size changes. For instance, say you have three entries; Name, Surname and Address. The entryfields of these are all three 1 liners.
In response to a resize of a window, once the window is bigger than x, you could expand the entryfield for the address to 3 lines, then 5 lines.
I think this is a better approach then increase/decrease the font size.

Actually, I once posted examples in the forum illustrating the various resizing techniques, look around and see if you find them.
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

We decided on minimum of 1024 * 768 many years ago.
We stuck with the windows grey colours and small font just like Gisle has suggested.
All thats really happened over time is that the menu program resizes itsself based on various resolutions that we've came across i.e. new widescreen laptops etc

It does this just to fill the desktop (I find its cleaner that way), other programs still remain a fixed size of our choice depending on what it needs to show etc
See attachment, screen dump of the menu by itself and then a program running.

Hopefully this will give you an idea at least.

Shaun
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

Thanks, Shaun. If I could get my application interface to look like your samples I would be home free. I have attached your pdf with several notes containing questions. I would appreciate any responses you provide. Some other general questions. Was Acubench used in your development of these screens? I tried to change my initial menu program based on retrieving the physcial-screen-width and then changing the font-size. I then use the following in my menu program: Display Initial Window font font-handle control fon font-handle. I then call programs based on the menu selection, which use Display Floating Window. In doing this however I found my called program screens could look very different. Does the initial window determine font sizes in called programs, if so I guess I need to reset the font in each program. Can you briefly describe how you do this in your menu program and then in the called program. If you or anyone else can help me with these questions and the ones in the pdf attached I would be forever grateful. I am a one person shop so the forum provides me with my only assistance.
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RE: [archive] modernized user interface

Hi,

Sure I'll answer as best I can.

All screens designed with acubench.
Regarding the sizing question, my own laptop is 1280 * 800 so in the main menu program I do

       Screen1-Aft-Initdata.
           ACCEPT UTODRV-HANDLE FROM THREAD HANDLE
           EVALUATE PHYSICAL-SCREEN-WIDTH
              WHEN 1280
                  MODIFY Screen1-Handle, SIZE 182
                                         LINES 30
                    DISPLAY STATUS-BAR
                    PANEL-WIDTHS (145, 12, 12, 13),
                    PANEL-STYLE (1, 1, 1, 1),
                    PANEL-TEXT
                          (SPACE, VDU-KEY, LINK-USER-NAME, WS-SCR-DATE)
                    GRIP, FONT IS Small-Font,
                    HANDLE IS Screen1-St-1-Handle
                    MOVE 128    TO WS-FAV-PB-COL
                    MOVE 121    TO WS-FAV-FR-COL
                    MOVE 21     TO WS-MENU-FR-COL
                    MOVE 52.57  TO WS-MENU-TITLE-COL
                    MOVE 51.51  TO WS-GRID-COL
                    MOVE 51.71  TO WS-GRID-LOGO-COL
                    MOVE 51.86  TO WS-LOGIC-COL
                    MOVE 23.00  TO WS-MENU-PB-COL
                    MOVE 23.00  TO WS-RUN-EF-COL
                    MOVE 36.00  TO WS-RUN-PB-COL


OK, so from the bottom of the PDF upwards.
The binoculars/glasses.
I don't honestly remember now where we got them from but we've made a single bitmap file with all the bitmaps that we've decided to use so far.
It's attached and you can make use of it if you wish, no problem.

And all the binoculars call a lookup program, all these have pretty much the exact same functionality. Some just have a little bit more information.
And yeah, they are list boxes.

The grids.
They are all Acu grids.
We control all movement, so the user enters the nominal code (either by typing it in or pressing a function key to call a lookup), it then fills a description in and takes them to the 3rd column, then the 4th and 5th etc.
The slide bar - just turn on VSCROLL on the Acu grid.

The button highlighted are Cut, Copy, Paste & Undo - thats all.

On this screen Underneath File is simply and Exit option
Underneath "Edit" is just Cut, Copy, Paste & Undo again.


Now - the main menu
Yes, whenever a program is called here the user can simply jump back to the menu and do something else.
Its all done via threads and we allow messages to be sent between threads because of our security routines.

The menu options here under file are slightly different.
We let the users change passwords, reset favourites etc.

Help.
I/we shamefully nicked ideas from the Acucorp "helpdemo" program.
We just do help on a screen instead of each and every field.

The forum was a good source of info for me, I'd image it'll be the same for you too Mike.

If if missed something out, just shout.

Shaun
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