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I am building an enterprise application using an MVC framework (Laravel). My users are often going to want to open a record, and leave it open so they can come back to it later. These records may relate to an Employee for example, or a Client.

I am thinking of opening each of these records in its own browser tab. The client-side will use some AJAX to keep it fresh, but won't be an SPA. I'll display a prominent refresh button for my users.

Does this sound like a reasonable way to navigate an enterprise application? It 'feels right' to me, but I have not come across many enterprise applications that use this approach. (Having said that, I have not used many enterprise application lately).

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In enterprise environments, with cloud-based browser-based solutions like salesforce becoming the new standard, using browser tabs is fine. Also, somewhat enterprise-like websites like DropBox also use tabs (when you preview a document).

It will also depend on the user group (as always) and on the application.

From personal experience: When our team developed a big enterprise application earlier this year, we also ran into the desire by some (heavy) users to have multiple browser tabs open at the same time.

In our case, we decided against supporting this, due to the many complications this would bring, like:

  • multiple-tab-user-flows can become quite complicated. What happens when user logs out in tab3? Or deletes record that is being edited in tab1?
  • Same user can have multiple instances of the same record in multiple tabs, which would require lots of additional checks and balances/ live reloads etc.
  • All your modals (with built in safety that the user must complete or close model before continuing) would need adaptation: user can open new tab 2, then open modal on tab1, then go back to tab 2
  • We would need to rebuild additional checks in step 1,2,3 like workflows, to safeguard against multiple tab editing.

We cannot prevent users from opening new tabs, but we surely did not want to encourage it, because UX could become unreliable if unexperienced users went for it. In our case, using a browser-based enterprise application was relatively new for the users - who were used to applications that always showed real-time info, without any of the browser-typical-refresh and request-response issues.

So instead we decided to go in a direction as proposed by @PectoralisMajor, to create (safe) tabs for specific purposes inside the application.

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I think you're approaching it in a good way, for me there are two considerations, is it acceptable within your business to open and maintain a session in this fashion? Does the web browser satisfy the business requirements, especially from a security point of view.

With regards to the second point your users, I think you'd do well to speak to them. See how they operate on a day to day basis. What are they doing now? How will, what you are suggesting, improve their experience of using the application? What other improvements could you make at the same time?

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Why not just use a tab system inside the application? Just a quick shot

You could let those tabs open inside the application till they close them, so even if they close the browser or the pc crashes etc. they could return to the opened tabs.

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