Desktop vs. Web Application Interface Design
Building effective user interfaces for enterprise applications is one of the most confounding elements of business application programming. Genius developers that excel at linking complex data sources, designing highly efficient application logic, and architecting well organized user screen stacks often struggle to build attractive, intuitive, and responsive UIs. The challenge is that building good UIs requires equal parts art, social science, and programming skill.
This challenge is felt particularly strongly in the world of business application development. As business app developers are shifting away from desktop application platforms to web development for delivery on both desktops and mobile devices. Desktop development tools like VB6 and PowerBuilder had well developed UI tools based on windows based user interaction models. Adapting user interface concepts to desktop and mobile web poses unique challenges to developers. This MSDN article “Designing for Web or Desktop?” provides a nice comparative summary of the topic.
While there are a rich sets of HTML5 controls that the C# or Java programmer can use to help with web design, many of of the web development toolsets were conceived to facilitate development of modern websites – not to support the specific interaction model of business applications. In preparing this article, I found this older article from Smashing Magazine discussing the specific differences in designing website UIs vs. web application UI interesting.
Customizing Properties of Application Controls
One of the challenges facing the web application developer who is making the transition from desktop development is that they do not have the direct access to control properties they do with desktop development environments. Gizmox Visual WebGui is a web application development environment built with the desktop developer in mind. Part of this is giving the same kind of access to the appearance and behavior of the application control set that desktop developers get. The video series below provides an overview of how to modify the visual effects of Visual WebGui controls. For an extensive set of examples including sample code, check out the Visual WebGui CompanionKit section dedicated to Visual Effects.