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Rapid Application Development with Mozilla™ by Nigel McFarlane

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10.3. Dialog Boxes

If new content to be displayed is more than trivial, then a dialog box is a simple design solution. Dialog boxes are no more than XUL windows with a very narrow purpose. Normally they are not standalone but operate in the context of (using the resources of) some other more general window.

Dialog boxes have two design purposes. The first is to expose complexity. When a user performs a command, the ideal result is that the command completes immediately and silently. Introducing a dialog box causes the user to deal with a set of further choices before their command completes. In terms of usability, this is an obstacle to the smooth flow of an application. The second design purpose is to focus the user on a specialist task. Such ...

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