MailNews Talk:Address Book New Card

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A view from the Back Porch

Any comparison done against the MS Windows Addressbook should not ignore why MS has designed it as depicted in these screen shots. MS has a lot invested in there Office suite which leverages all the Windows OS OLE and DDE core along with VBA scripting. Vista is loaded with several Windows applications that generate Objects such as Movies, Photo Galleries, Calendars, etc. all for the benefit of Office. Plus Vista is the network and telephone services source.

To match MS, We would have to be able to interact extensively with the OS services to get to the same level of integration MS created. Vista makes possible Fax send receive, phone dialing, IM, insert from object application; all this and more because the OS is a virtual server that ties the MS business model together.

We have to think global and drop the 1998 mindset that drove the design of Mozilla, the suite at inception of Mozilla.Org. Which centric model are We targeting.

1. Personal Communications Basically this is the track We have been on since 1998. We offer extendability without a vision what We want the Add-on authors to bring to the project. This results in an eclectic mix of niche extensions. We seem to only address usability after a sufficiently strong consensus indicates the early Geek design was too spartan.

2. Enterprize Communications This is were MS is at with Windows and Office. To get to a Mozilla version of supporting this huge arena of market activity will require extensive effort. Work in this direction has been proposed for the Tb 4.0 Roadmap by David A.

I do not reject either model. Rather I envision a third track that blends both end user targets in a way that a specific user can sit down either at home or the work place and satisfy their communication needs.

At present Our addressbook when combined with some of the extensions to it, has a lot of features. To begin with, We should drop the current three pane view of the parent window. One design alternative is a button bar display of Address Books and mailing lists, replacing the tree view.[1]
Turn the current left pane into a Contact Name list view. Then combine the current List view and Card view into a single Card view with tabs. Next give that view pane editable fields for data correction while in view mode. This gives you an opportunity reuse it as a new card screen when in New Card insert mode. Now We have all the space needed and can do away with the current New Card modal dialog and Bug 63941 issues.

Here I want to introduce an idea of mine. With revision of the Abook views I outlined, I would give the New Card view a toggle between Personal and Enterprize data field arrays by leveraging CSS. Both field toggles are just different view arrays from one Abook where {disply:hidden} toggles to {display:inline} if a data element is/is not essential to a view. Lastly, I would consider inclusion of some Drop Down lists for custom options so a specific display space could be assigned to any field Our data base supports. This means a person could add extra e-mail addresses without the default layout wasting space with lots of supplamental display space assignments.

[1] Another design to show available books and mailing lists, use tabs, the interface Tb 3.0 introduces, so carry it trough for consistency of user interaction.

--Ron K. 12:51, 13 May 2008 (PDT)