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I have a problem with finding the best approach for forms that contain deeper relationships.

For example I have a form for creating an invoice. While the user is filling particular fields he may have to chose a client that is going to get billed. If the client does not exist, he should be able to create one. This client might have some relationships to other data for banking details and so on.

There was one application I saw that had, for each auto-complete field, an extra button to create a new item. When user clicked on "create new item" a new modal window popped up.

What is the best approach for such use case? Are there any alternatives to multiple level modal boxes containing such forms?

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I think I am understanding your question, but forgive me if I am not fully.

I'm assuming the user would select the client with a dropdown box.

At the top of the list that is shown in the dropdown, add an entry for 'New Client'.

If they select this option, add to the existing form additional entry boxes to be completed for the new client.

This will maintain the context of the existing form, while minimizing the cognitive load associated with switching to a new form.

This solution assumes that the amount of additional information required for creating a new client is small.. if it is large, well, then try to make it small.

Be aware that filling out forms and putting a bullet through your head are comparable actions to some people. Do your absolute best to NOT collect data.. especially useless / 'nice to have' data. Additionally, spend your design time thinking about how you can save the user time.. for example, asking them for their zip code instead of for their city and state (because zip codes map to city and state)

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Like the previous answer I am not fully convinced I understood your issue. But what I would do when having the user fill an invoice is:

  • If the client invoiced already exist is straight forward.
  • If the client does not exist, why not fill in his details in the invoice forms and when saving the invoices the user can be asked if you want to save the client for future invoices ...

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