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Tabs, tabs, tabs, tabs ....wonderful tabs... -- Will most XPages sites use tabbed navigation?

By Andrew Pollack on 06/18/2008 at 09:59 AM EDT

XPages provides a really natural way to create tabbed interfaces for web applications. You drop a tab control onto the XPage, then drop a custom control (remember, that's just another XPage built to be use-case specific) onto the various tabs. My application has four interrelated forms so it makes perfect sense to create a custom control for each as well as a custom control representing the access method for each (e.g. for those with multiple documents, a control which displays them in a view or a fancier "repeat" interface). Dropping these onto a tabbed interface produces a pretty slick AJAX-esque web site very quickly.

Given that most of the demos use this tabbed methodology, and the controls being already there -- and even a fairly good base style sheet and theme -- will all the XPage implementations look alike for a while? Are tabs a solid web UI design choice?

One of my goals today is to understand how well I can meet the common requirement of producing exactly the layout of web page that I've been given as HTML (or sometimes even just as an Illustrator print that I have to use HTML and CSS to create) and not lose any of the power XPages has. That's going to mean a lot of embedding html and css source that didn't come from Domino Designer.

The code generated by that same tabbed table from the first picture is shown in the second. You can manually modify this and even insert XHTML as needed. The key will be just how much you can do yourself before the page generator can't cope any more. I'll be playing with this, but my guess is Nathan will really be pushing those limits first.

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re: Tabs, tabs, tabs, tabs ....wonderful tabs... -- Will most XPages sites use tabbed navigation?By Ed Maloney on 06/18/2008 at 10:59 AM EDT
Wouldn't it be nice if Domino developers had a tool that didn't require any
"limit pushing" to create a contemporary web page? The last thing I want is
another IDE that requires three hacks for every automatic feature. I think
IBM is on the right track with XPages, but they're very late to the game.
re: Tabs, tabs, tabs, tabs ....wonderful tabs... -- Will most XPages sites use tabbed navigation?By Jerry Carter on 06/18/2008 at 03:52 PM EDT
@Ed -

I don't know how late to the game this is - .NET only just recently started
making XAML a big offering which is pretty much the same kind of thing. Seems
pretty contemporary, and cool, to me. I see lots of future value to Xpages -
it covers so many past design frustrations and limitations. I share your
pessimism, though, Ed, in the form of cautious optimism. Many cool features of
Notes in the past have come oh so close to being sweet while missing the mark
by a critical hair.

@ Andrew - thanks for the XPages article - passed it on to some friends.
Regarding the viability of tabbed navigation, I think it's a usable design that
is highly intuitive. Until a more intuitive meme comes along, I think tabs are
here to stay. You never have to tell someone these days what to do with
clearly labeled tabs. I think the biggest miss when implementing tabs is not
making them visible enough or clearly labeled... or adding too many. Keeping
it simple and clear and it's a rock solid navigation aid.

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