Multiple Document Interface (MDI)

What the heck are you talkin' about Ken? that would be Multiple Document Interface, or the way most applications in the Windows world operate. first some background, full text can be found on Apple's Developer Site.

From the beginning, the Apple user interface guidelines stressed the importance of using metaphors to everyday physical objects as a way of helping users understand unfamiliar software applications. As a result, most applications display each document in a separate window, which users find familiar because it mirrors their experience with paper documents. The emphasis is on the document, and the underlying software is largely invisible. The application itself does not have a window, and its presence is visible to the user only in the documents menus and menu items.

In contrast, Microsoft developed the Multiple-Document Interface (MDI) as the user interface for software applications that can manipulate multiple documents simultaneously. In this interface, the application has its own window, and its open documents may or may not be visible inside the client area of the application's window.

basically Windows apps have an encompassing parent window around all of the applications windows. Mac OS does not do this at all. an application window displays all the menu items for the entire application, and the application seems transparent, because it IS the document(s) you are working on. This MDI is one of the larges things that throws people off about Windows or Mac OS (depending on which camp you came from).

I however transcend normality, so this MDI business isn't that of a big deal to me. there is one thing I miss about Mac OS apps, being able to move information between a number of open applications. in Windows I cannot do this because of the big gray parent application window. this posses irritation at times. so I just curse a bit and figure out a different way of moving data from one app to another.

but in general, I do like the Windows MDI. it is why I like the Dreamweaver UI so much more on Windows. because of MDI Dreamweaver (and virtually all others Windows software) is how it is. you do not see through to the desktop, which allows every bit of the monitor be filled with all the various windows, pallets etc, etc, for the app. I also enjoy the MDI in Photoshop as well. i have an uncluttered natural background in which to work on my images.

as with other Windows nuances, I have learned to live, and like the MDI document model. just like the rest of Windows, its not so painful once you learn its more positive aspects.

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