Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Rehabilitate Document Preview !

Since framesets have been available to Domino designers, that is from release 5 onwards, Notes applications attempted to escape from the traditional 3-panes user interface that long-time proposed a left navigation pane, a right-top view pane and a right-bottom document preview. As developers discovered the flexibility offered by framesets, few Notes applications have exhibited original interfaces, many applications have retained a traditional 3-frames arrangement while others even presented a somewhat limited 2-frames disposition.

As framesets have become prevalent while building Notes applications user interfaces or entry points, this post proposes to rehabilitate document preview in applications that rely on framesets.

3 different dispositions keep accompanying Notes classical 3-panes default presentation. You obtain them selecting View - Document Preview - Arrange Preview... context menu as illustrated in figure 1 below. Notice the so-called "Bottom Right" usual layout you're familiar with. While choosing a location end-users are provided three different interfaces. Unfortunately, nowadays frameset built applications rarely offer such a flexible and powerful user-oriented design.

Figure 1: View - Document Preview - Arrange Preview... dialog window.

While I do not mean developers should systematically propose multiple variations in pane arrangements, bringing particular attention and care while building user interfaces is common wisdom in designers community. Observe end-users are offered another option, past document preview activation. Using View - Document Preview - Zoom Preview context menu, documents can be maximised or set back to preview mode. If you feel like emulating document preview and zoom in framesets, please read on!

Despite this long introduction, enabling document preview in framesets is easy, although not really documented. Suffice to name a frame "NotesPreview" and you're done! Truth is framesets secretly resort to "NotesPreview" hardcoded name to implement document preview. Say your application uses a 2-frame arrangement, as shown in figure 2, and you intend to zoom documents using a 3-frame arrangement as in figure 3. Split the right frame in 2 rows, name its bottom empty frame "NotesPreview", set its height to 0 and make sure the upper frame links target "NotesPreview" lower frame. Save your frameset and observe View - Document Preview context menu now contains two new options: Show Preview and Zoom Preview.

I have systematically implemented document preview whenever I could and I've retained my addiction to document preview/zoom combined with the usage of framesets. Don't frustrate your experienced Notes users and start "NotesPreview"ing to their benefit !

Figure 2: 2-Frame arrangement i.e. Right-Left

Figure 3: 3-Frame arrangement so-called "Bottom Right"

Figure 4: Naming a frame "NotesPreview" suffices to implement show preview or zoom preview for documents.

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