[whatwg] Re: modal and modeless windows

Karl Pongratz karlhp at karlhp.com
Mon Jun 27 13:38:06 PDT 2005

Matthew Raymond wrote:

> Karl Pongratz wrote:
>> I could envision that as follows, lets take the address book of 
>> Microsoft Outlook, the desktop application, as an example.
>> You have a page (resource) my_addresses.html, a simple document that 
>> shows you all your addresses without any form fields. If you want to 
>> edit an address you click on it, which will open a modal window, this 
>> modal window should then contain the xforms document to edit the 
>> address, with a "Save and Close" and "Cancel" button. Cancel will 
>> close the modal window, no other action is taken. Save and Close will 
>> save the form data, closes the modal window and it will update the 
>> changes in the underlying my_addresses.html document, i.e. by 
>> reloading it.
>    Where do you need modal windows in this model? Someone clicks on 
> the edit link to bring up an address editing page in a new window. You 
> edit, then click "save" or "cancel", which closes the window. AJAX and 
> server-sent DOM events update the original window when you save. If 
> the address is deleted or altered, server-sent DOM events can update 
> the editing window to act accordingly. (In the event of a deletion, 
> for instance, the editing window could change to a simple page saying 
> "This address has been deleted".) Since the dialog is not modal, you 
> can edit multiple addresses at the same time, and you can even do so 
> while the buddy you're sharing the address book with is editing it.
>    As far as links go, the newly created address editing windows don't 
> have a previous window because they were just spawned, and if they 
> don't need links to load inside the window, then don't put any or have 
> them spawn new windows.
>    So I ask you, for this example, where is the benefit of modal windows?

I am using the current approach you describe, and as long as you have 
only a single additional window (the edit form) open it wouldn't be a 
problem, except if you want the user to explicitly complete a task, then 
modal would be required. In case of the addresses modal may not be 
required, it depends if you want to allow the user to delete a contact 
while the same contact is open in the edit form. It probably wont harm 
something in this case but it may in others. The problem starts in the 
edit form, if you want yet to open another window, lets say you want to 
attach a file to the address which is opened in the edit window, within 
the opened edit window you open a HTML File Manager. So you have 3 
windows open, the address view in the main web browser window, the edit 
form in a new window (without chrome) and the File Manager in another 
new window (without chrome). Wouldn't you use at least a modal window in 
case when you open the File Manager, if modal Windows would exist?

The File Manager is just one case, I face this problem many times where 
for an external edit form it would be convenient to open a modal sub 
window. So, Xforms may be a solution in that case if you don't require 
being the first window you open to be modal. By the way, I am simulating 
modal windows within the edit forms I use, but it is definitely a dirty 
hack to simulate multi web browser and multi os modal windows.

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