Yeehaw! Better UI on node forms - Drupal 6
Thanks to Dmitri (and Bevan) who has contributed a new module (Vertical Tabs - Drupal 6 only currently) that minimizes vertical scrolling on node forms. I don't know anyone, from a client level to the developer, who likes a lot of vertical scrolling, regardless if browsing or filling in a form. Dmitry has now brought us one step closer to having a better UI for administrators. I'm glad to see some modules erupt that are working toward solving the UI problems related to the Drupal administration / backend.
The Super Nav module provides friendly usability and productivity. I have not tested this module but from the video demonstration I can see its usefulness. Although, it does not get rid of the long vertical scrolling. This module focuses more on productivity - which is a good thing. I suppose you could use super Nav along with Vertical Tabs to accomplish both productivity and minimizing long node forms.
The Root Candy theme gives an iconic administrator theme - helping with navigation. While using this theme plus the Thickbox module you can get a little bit tighter UI on the node form - compared to the new Vertical Tabs module. The node fieldsets remain in a column through a block and when clicking on a fieldset link a modal window pops up through the Thickbox module. Personally I would prefer the vertical tabs module, but instead of having the form element links at the bottom of the node form, I would prefer to have a block option - like Root Candy does. Maybe Dmitry is working on that :)
If you have come across the usability group, I'm sure you are aware that the Drupal community is getting serious about usability issues. The Drupal developers and designers that I work with have all said that this is the one great weakness Drupal has - I agree. Acquia interviewed David Mercer (and author of Drupal books) some weeks back. During that interview he talked about usability issues on the backend for administrators. He made some very good points. I hope that all of us, as Drupal developers can find a way to contribute back to this very large and important UI effort. It seems the founder of Drupal is taking UI concerns seriously as well. (thank you Dries for making it a priority!). With great leadership and plenty of people willing to contribute, I am confident this usability issue will be taken care of by the Drupal 7 release, if not then hopefully Drupal 8.