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Theoretical Question: Which is the better interface - MDI or SDI?

Posted on 2009-07-15
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Last Modified: 2013-12-17
I am about to embark on a software project that involves Windows Forms. I have approximately 10 forms that will maintain the data and another that will allow for reporting. I have a relatively novice set of users in this department.
Which would be the better path to travel given the number of forms and the skill level of the user base?
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Question by:Euless_Tech
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Expert Comment

by:j_s_kelley
ID: 24863518
I am not sure I understand your question.  Do you have several paths to choose from?  What are the options?  The way the question is phrased, it is very broad in scope.  What do you mean by the "best" path?  People write books on the best way to write applications.  Thanks.
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by:RyanAndres
RyanAndres earned 200 total points
ID: 24863557
Personally I would go with MDI for a couple of reasons:

1) It makes it easier for the user to switch between windows
2) Allows all forms to communicate with each other / share data

Make sure your novice users try to avoid coupling the forms. By decoupling each form it provides better maintainability. Ie, In a managed code environment developers can work on each form without affecting the others.
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Accepted Solution

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j_s_kelley earned 300 total points
ID: 24863584
Sorry, didn't read the original question to begin with.  My fault.  :(  To choose between MDI and SDI really depends on the nature of the application.  I have seen both used well and both done completely wrong.  I like MDI if truly, each child represents a "document" in some way.  With beginners, modal dialogs work fine because it makes them finish their thought before moving on.  Modal dialogs (SDI) is easier to control what happens when.  With MDI, if there is ANY interrelation between the documents, you can get yourself into a coordination nightmare (i.e. update one screen which might cause another to be invalid.)  As for user level, there are many very common applications that use MDI, for example, the suite of Office products are mostly MDI.  I don't think that will throw anyone.  Just make sure that the model fits the nature of the application.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Euless_Tech
ID: 31603960
Thanks for the input. Being a somewhat beginner to intermediate developer in C#, I will probably go with SDI since it's easier to control.
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