I am working on converting a winforms application to WPF. So, we are also trying to make sure this is good from a UX point of view in the process.

I have a configuration form that I am not sure if I should set up as two forms or one.

Here is the general layout right now:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Basically, you select an item and configure it. The groupbox is currently always visible.

I can see two or three possible options and am not sure which would be better. One thing to note is that most users will only be configuring one item only.

  1. Split this into two distinct forms. The first being the selection of the item, and the second being the configuration of the item.
  2. Keep this in one form and just make the groupbox/form collapse/expand as an item is selected
  3. Keep this in one form and when the user selects an item, expand the listbox so that it has the configuration underneath it (accordian style)


download bmml source

I am leaning toward option 2 if only because most users will not be configuring more than one item. Feel free to ask any questions on details I might have missed.

  • what is the horizontal status bar for, and why is it there at all time? Is that supposed to be a hint for the user as to which item to work on?
    – Jung Lee
    Jul 10, 2012 at 18:26
  • @JungLee No. Sorry, I did not mention them as they are just like another piece of data. The items are microphones and this is just the current pitch that is being heard from the microphone Jul 10, 2012 at 18:29
  • 1
    2 questions: Is it exactly the same configuration process for every item? and Does "most users will only be configuring one item only" mean that most users will only be interested in configuring one item, or that most users will only configure one item at a time.
    – Justin
    Jul 10, 2012 at 21:51
  • @Justin Same process, and one item (not at a time). This is going to be part of an enrollment wizard, but the user will be able to go back to each part later if they change their mind Jul 11, 2012 at 12:25
  • @JustinPihony The title may be wrong - you have multiple items, but the user might only configure one. Therefore, you don't necessarily have multiple steps. Jul 12, 2012 at 18:43

3 Answers 3


Have you considered presenting configuration in a modal popup? There are several advantages:

  1. When you invoke the configuration, all the controls will always be in-view, whereas if you were using collapse/expand/accordions, they may be cropped depending on what the scroll bar position is.

  2. Since most users will only edit one item, the system would only need to load the Configuration controls for the product the user would be editing, rather than pre-loading all controls for all items.

  3. If you have keyboard-centric users, Expand/collapse/accordions are harder to implement accesskeys for.



I would go with a standard master detail pattern, where you have a list of items (e.g. at the left) followed by the configuration of the currently selected item (e.g. at the right).

WPF example:
enter image description here

P.S. This isn't relevant to UX, but WPF supports this nicely using binding and data templates whether or not the structure of the different items is the same or not.


We ended up going with option 1 and progressively displaying the information

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