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The standard applet user interface works fine for mini applets that can function within one given applet screen. However, this one-screen-per-HTML-page method does not scale well for organizations that need to deliver robust programs to their target audience over the Internet, intranet, or extranets.
There are some alternatives to this standard interface. You can launch windows in their own frames, which provides a way for applets to contain more than one window at one time. Another alternative is to use dialog boxes for additional screens. Although these alternatives do provide solutions to the standard interface, many users find them annoying. I continually hear gripes about Web sites that clutter desktops with additional browser windows.
So, what do you do if your applet requires multiple screens, but having separate windows is not a viable option? The answer: Use a design that works in the confinement of a single HTML page, but allows multiple screens in a single applet embedded in that HTML page.
The Multi-Panel Applet Design (MPAD), which allows multiple panels, or screens, to be incorporated into a single applet, is perfect for applets but can just as easily be applied to standalone GUI applications. MPAD is not a new Java API or technology; rather, it is a design that provides some significant benefits:
MPAD uses a Panel Manager to control individual panels. Each panel consists of GUI controls/widgets and performs a specific task. For example, a login
panel might contain
TextField objects to obtain an ID and password from a user and perform login authentication for a given system. The panels are chained
together in a sequence, with the last panel in sequence visible in the applet's display area. This mechanism is similar to
a stack where you can "push" (and "pop") objects onto the stack, but can only "peek" at the object on top of the stack. Note:Although MPAD allows you to see only one screen at a time, you can easily overcome this limitation by extending the design.