Navigation in web design

Shanmuga SundaramDirector of Software Engineering
Navigation is an important part of web design from a usability perspective. But it is often a pain when it comes to a developer’s perspective. By navigation, it often means menuing. This is less theory and more practical of how to get a specific group of links in a specific spot on a page and make sure the right group of links shows up in the right place. Menuing in broadest possible sense can be handled in two methods namely implicit and explicit.

Implicit menu
Implicit menu refers to the menu that are driven off by the content structure of the site

Explicit menu
Explicit menu refers to the menu that does not have specific menu structure and it links to specific content in the site regardless of where the content is.

In order to reduce the pain and challenges faced by the developers on menuing, many third party tools and open sources are available today to fulfill the developer needs. The developers can either use them directly or customize them according to their needs.

Flex Menus
In Flex, the flex controls can be used as menus. Some of the controls are Menubar, Tree panel, Button Bar and  Link Bar

Java Menu
Similar to Flex, in Java the treeview and  Expand / Collapse Accordion can be used to create menus. Apart from these controls the users can create Horizontal menus and vertical menus using jQuery.  Generally the developers prefer to use  jQuery Accordion menu instead of using the controls in Java for designing and implementing the menu system in their applications. Some of the reasons are

It is very light weight, fast and Simple
If used, the application looks like it has Rich Interfaces
It can collapse any element within a document
We can add separate classes for expanding and collapsing
Target elements can be customized
Collapsed Elements can be pre-detected
Involves very less coding effort
Supports cross browser
Support majority of languages

JavaFX Menu
The JavaFX do not come with a menu GUI component. The menu in JavaFX can be created using one of the class component “javafx.ext.swing.SwingComponent”.  This wraps the swing component into the JavaFX node.

Silverlight Menu
The Silverlight runtime does not have the “Menu Control”. But there are other third party menu controls available for Silverlight. Example for one of the third party menu control is Telerik menu controls for Silverlight.
Shanmuga SundaramDirector of Software Engineering

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