At the time I'm redesigning some desktop application. Look at the illustration below.

desktop application mockup

Window on the LEFT side of the illustration should be resizable since it contains table which can have any number of columns and horizontal scroll is not the best pattern for tables.

At the same time another tab of the same window (RIGHT window) contains small amount of controls and when window is big there are too much free space around those few controls.

Some pattern that is relevant for my case:

desktop application mockup

You see, guys don't care about too much free space at all.

What do you think? Do you have some suitable patterns in mind?


I'm not quite sure if what you're looking for is a pattern (because, according to my knowledge, unfortunately there's no ideal one for this case), I would rather call it a technique (or a set of techniques) of UI/UX design you can use to solve your problem.

  1. Make some assumptions on what tabs are for. If they're supposed to categorize contents, then solving the empty space isn't a UX problem per se, it's rather matter of making the design looking well either populated with data or not.
  2. On the other hand, you can take another approach - think of tabs like of a solution that categorizes data because they don't fit on one screen and try to maximize use of the space. This, however, seems to be more relevant for mobile designs rather than a regular desktop app.
  3. Think of a compromise; if you end up in a point, where only a few of zillions tabs are fully populated, and the rest look empty, think of reducing amount of tabs.

Generally, the empty space dilemma is an eternal problem of UX/UI designers and now, when display sizes are various more than ever before, it seems to need more design creativity than ever before...

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