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I am working on an view that allows you to define a list of matching criteria and then allows you to view various reports.

This is what I have till now:

enter image description here

Now, you would probably want to ask... if you are using tabs, why on earth you are not preselecting one?

There are two reasons:

  1. Each report requires some other data input (which may vary depending on the report)
  2. All report are equally important and I need to make sure that one report does not get favoured to others (let's say the leftmost one).

One thing to consider is that there are going to be pre-saved views, where a set of criteria is matched with a report (so the report is going to be pre-selected with all the inputs needed), so there could be some learning here, but the user is still able to create one view on his own and not get confused.

So that's my specific context, I guess my main "broader" question is: In scenarios where one state works well with tabs, but another state requires you to not have any tab selected, are there better alternative to tabs?

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would still use tabs. or if youre into that sort of thing you can use accordion –  user1721135 Feb 1 '13 at 10:33

1 Answer 1

I think your issue is that tabs probably aren't the best option to take. A tab should be showing different content directly related to the one 'parent' item, whereas what your requirement seems to be is to create some criteria and then generate a report(s). - There is a flow to this journey - select criteria > generate report, so you should fit the controls to the user journey.

I would suggest stepping away from the tab metaphor and think of it from a different angle. You have criteria, once selected there is a report that you want to produce. You don't (as far as I can tell) have a requirement to directly compare one report to another - they are separate reports used for different purposes. Therefore you don't really need to switch between reports in the way tabs would work.

I suggest something like this:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

However this isn't so scalable, so you might want to change the various buttons to be a dropdown list with a 'generate' button that triggers the report chosen, but for the purposes of this example it should get the idea across.

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