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Juan VelasquezFlag for United States of America

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Advice on form design


I've been working on enhancing a Access 2007 application.  I've moved many of the forms into main form via a tab control.  It still looks a little bit cluttered for my taste.  I'd like to get advice on how I can improve the look and feel of the application.  I'm not looking for any code.  I just thought that maybe another pair of eyes would have a different perspective.  I've attached a word document with screen shots.
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Barry Cunney
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Avatar of Jeffrey Coachman

No offense, but I personally hate designs like that.
It just gets to complicated trying to reference objects to each other on:
The Main form
A Tab
A form on the tab
A control on a form on a tab...
A control on a form on *another* tab...

Anytime a question here starts out:
    "I have a form with many tabs and each tab has subforms, ..."
...I immediately ignore it because of the potential complexity.

To me this design is an attempt to "put everything on one form".

Sounds like it makes sense, but for me, the interface can be daunting for a new user.

It can also be a bear to manage if info on one tab/form needs to be refreshed in order to display the correct info on another tab/Form...

Just my 2c

Let's see what other experts post.

Also look at your screenshot.
Vertical "Scrolling" will also be confusing.

You can scroll:
Then Main form
The Tab Control
The forms on the tab control
The controls in the form, in the tab control in the main form...

One general school of thought is that the user should never have to scroll around in a form.

I am a big fan of opening up a separate forms for each different function in the app.

For example, it seems like it would be cool to create Customer, Orders, products, Employees, ...etc,  from one location, but I would rather just open separate forms for each task.

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It might be a good idea to use a custom ribbon as a switchboard.  That way all the forms can be accessed from one location while maximizing real estate
Or just create a simple switchboard form manually and not have to go through all the trouble of cresting a custom ribbon...

Ribbons are for executing functionality, not opening objects. (although that can be made to do so)
I went ahead and decluttered the form as suggested by bcunney and that resulted in a great improvement.  The user had specifically requested a tab form structure so I was unable to implement hoags solution.  In fact, the original version of the application, employed a switchboard which the client wanted to get rid of.