I suspect that the reason your books don't touch on this particular UI design is because its madness
!!! Just kidding. :) Please don't take that the wrong way, but don't do it to yourself! :):)
The most advanced UI principle I've ever stumbled aross is: choose the simplest model possible. Joel Spolsky's three assumptions are helpful here:
- People can't read
- People can't control the mouse
- People can't remember anything
And lastly, but most importantly, people always have better things to do with their lives than figure out how our applications work.
I make a point of showing the user only what they need at the moment, and make it as intuitive as possible to get to that. If they need to see a list of customers or orders or order items they get it in a read-only list box, sometimes a couple on a form if parent/child relationships apply. Double-clicking a list box item, or clicking an Add or Edit button with an item selected in the list opens a columnar form displaying the one
record they need to edit (or a blank form for inserts). They can only physically edit one record at a time, so thats all they get. I've challenged myself to never use another subform again, especially for editing. They're an Access-specific GUI control. The design techniques you learn with them aren't transferrable to other platforms (i.e., Visual Studio and Visual Studio.NET); the design techniques you learn with list controls are.
"Simplify, simplify...Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!...instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail."
Thoreau still beckons, as long as I can take my laptop.