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It was hard to phrase the question clearly.

I'm looking at two options:

1) Full page data grid. On double click on a record, a window pops up showing the record in a form view.

2) Top half: form view of the single record. Bottom half: data grid, single click record selection populates top record form.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The choice depends on how restricting a split view will be. If you need to support a wide variety of users who may have smaller screens (1024x768) or tons of BHO toolbars then I would recommend open a dialog with a single click. If you can confirm that the vast majority (95%) of your users have screens large enough to support a split screen comfortably, then you can do that.

To be honest, it's only if you are creating something for your Intranet that you can be reasonably assured of the minimum specs of your users' browser. Any B2C site should probably assume the worst and aim for the design which is usable for everyone (details in the overlay) rather than a design which is a little better (split screen) only if your screen is large enough to support it.

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I can make top and half parts resizable, or hideable as in accordeon menus, that probably would solve the screen size problem, as they can always hide one of the parts. Also, wouldn't an overlay on every single click be annoying? –  Arman Bimatov Jun 5 '12 at 18:27
    
Why would someone click on the data grid unless they wanted additional details? Assuming you are targeting for the web, it is a bad idea to ever require double-clicks; few web users will even realize the interaction exists. –  Myrddin Emrys Jun 5 '12 at 18:35
    
You're right. I think the solution is to make it split, but with a hide/expand functionality –  Arman Bimatov Jun 5 '12 at 18:41

A pinnable divider might combine the best of both methods.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

The user can adjust the border if they choose, click the arrow to collapse it manually. When not pinned, the divider should collapse right away when the user interacts with the data grid (such as scrolling or panning it) and automatically re-open when the user selects a viewable item. When pinned the detail view will remain visible unless manually hidden with the down arrow.

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That's exactly what I did! Thanks –  Arman Bimatov Jun 6 '12 at 22:33

I think a single click is more appropriate, especially, if the row in the grid is not doing anything now on a single click. I would also agree to go with a grid and view on the same page. Overlays could have problems when the there is a lot of information to present (e.g. scrollbars, not pretty). With a split view you can allow have keyboard support; user moves with key up/down in the grid and the detailed view changes accordingly. If detail view has too much information you can also consider taking user to the full Detail View page with and easy way to get back to the grid.

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