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How should I handle branching to a distinct task whilst the first remains incomplete?

As a specific example, I have a web application where I am able to create appointments on my schedule. These appointments are with another 'person'/'contact'.

While adding an appointment, the user may realise that the person with whom the appointment is to be made is not currently a contact (thus the appointment with another 'person' cannot be made).

How should I handle adding this other 'person' to my contacts without forcing the user to abandon the partially-created appointment?

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Hi Paulo, welcome to! Your question is unclear right now, can you add some more details and your approach to the problem, aided by some screenshots/mockups? – rk. Jun 14 '13 at 19:18
If you're asking about code, StackOverflow may be a better place for your question. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Jun 14 '13 at 21:35
@Roddy: As per my suggested edit, I believe that the OP is asking how to handle switching to a new task whilst the first is only partially completed (ie adding a person to have an appointment when a partially-created appointment exists). – kwah Jun 14 '13 at 22:53
@kwah, you are right. Should I open a modal window? – paulo larini Jun 15 '13 at 1:22
@paulolarini - there are a few different options / workflows that would be better posted as an answer as opposed to a comment. Bear with me - I shall briefly outline a few suggestions. – kwah Jun 16 '13 at 19:28
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Essentially you have a few options, assuming that you wish to prevent the user from losing data.

How you handle the input is also something that should be considered (cf AJAX requests), but the workflow/UI could involve (a non-exhaustive list):

1. Running the tasks in parallel

  • launch a new window / tab
  • launch a modal dialog over the original task
  • expand an area of the original task to perform the seperate action

2. Running the tasks in series

  • save the first task as a draft, to be returned to after other tasks have been completed

Note that this question is more about workflow rather than implementation detail - if you have more specific questions about the implementation, I suggest opening additional question(s).

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