User interface standards are critical for both programmer and
end-user productivity. An important part of any application is
Application Maintenance Forms—and Dennis Schumaker
shows the strategy and the code you need to create them.
OUR company has recognized that forms design is
part art and part science. However, by critically
looking at the applications that we’d developed
over the years, we recognized that we could classify our
forms into two major categories:
• Business Process Forms: These are forms created to
model the specific business process that the
application was primarily intended to automate.
Although we can identify some specific common
processes, such as adding, editing, deleting, filtering,
and printing (which are discussed later), the exact
nature of what the form will do is dictated by the
unique business process.
• Application Maintenance Forms: These forms were
created to support ancillary business functions like
adding and editing information in various lookup
tables (or other supporting tables used within the
business application). Generally, all applications need
some of these types of forms. These forms tend to be
similar among all applications—building a form to
support adding and editing information in a lookup
table is essentially an identical business process in
In many cases, a programmer needs to know very
little about the specific business process being automated
to develop the appropriate Application Maintenance
Forms. However, a specific understanding of the business
process is needed to successfully design acceptable
Business Process Forms. Having recognized this
difference, it became apparent that these two different
types of forms would require different skill levels and
knowledge of the business process on the part of our
programming staff. So, we strove to develop user
interface design and coding standards that would not
only streamline our programming staff’s development
and take advantage of the differing skill levels, but also
increase their knowledge of business processes.
Our chosen user interface design for navigation is
based on using drop-down menus. Consequently,
Business Process Forms are typically found under our
Activities menu (see Figure 1), and Application
Maintenance Forms are found under an Administration
menu (see Figure 2).
Our IT department re-programmed the CD Collection
database (which is included in the Source Code file at
www.smartaccessnewsletter.com) to demonstrate the
standards. The remainder of this article will discuss
these standards and demonstrate how they’re to be
implemented using this simple database as an example.
This article will deal only with the development of
Application Maintenance Forms, whereas an earlier
article dealt with Business Process Forms.
Application Maintenance Forms
Application Maintenance Forms are typically found under
an Administration menu item. Under the Administration
menu item, for lack of a better name, we have a menu
selection called Table Maintenance (see the section
“Setting the order” later in this article).
In all of our applications, we generally have
supporting tables that are used throughout the
application for looking up values, names, and so forth.
Some applications may have 20 to 40 such tables, while
others have just a few. The CD Collection that we use as
our reference application has three lookup tables like the
one shown in Figure 3.
We were able to identify three major design
considerations that are common to all Application
Maintenance Forms, specifically: ...
read more here
Figure 1 Activities menu