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We have an enterprise web application that has lots of data, currently separated into different tabs. Usually, the user access the data from a list view. We are considering using a Windowed application view with X to close out back to the list view. Is this a good approach or are we trying to mix metaphors here - introduce desktop application concepts into web application.

What would be some alternate/better ways of doing the same

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Are these actual windows? Can you arrange them, stack them as you please and size them as you please? Dock them? You're not actually building windows if you're only building a big modal that covers up your entire screen and forces the user to hit "x".

At that point the question is - "Is putting a giant modal that covers up all navigation and context a good idea?" And I would say that 99% of the time the answer is "no".

Tabs for editing many fields aren't inherently bad. If your users don't like your tabs, maybe the way your data is grouped together on particular tabs isn't helpful. Or they may prefer to scroll and use a static table of contents rather than have tabs.

You're probably going to need to give us a mockup or screenshot or something if we're going to help you a whole lot more. It's hard to make suggestions without knowing what's feasible and what the scale of the data is (10 vs 100 vs 1000 fields).

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You could look into other kinds of components, like accordions and carousels to show more content without resorting to modals. Accordions work well for expanding list entries to show more detail. You might also consider a toggle switch to change between a detail view and a summary view.

As John S mentions, be cautious of using modals. They are best reserved for instances where the user is focused on a single activity which must be resolved before returning to a screen that presents broader information. Screenshots/mocks would help.

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