Where does the time go!? I'd planned on spending some time tidying up the flyout menu demo and making it more relevant/meaningful, ready for you guys downloading it.
Alas, I just don't have the spare time I used to. What time I do have spare at the moment is spent preparing for the arrival of the second baby, due in the summer.
I've been served my eviction notice and have to relocate the office elsewhere. As I mentioned last year it will be in the garage, which needs rebuilding. Before I'm allowed to do that I have to finish a whole list of other jobs in the house itself. It seems never-ending but then I can almost see light at the end of the tunnel now. You'll get more of my time once it's all done.
Anyway, last night I did manage to spend time packaging the download up and putting it in the sandbox. You can download it here.
It's been interesting to see what people thought of it. The hard part has been trying to get across that it's not drop-down menus. We've all "been there, done that" with drop-downs. To me drop-downs are mainly used as a means of site navigation. With "flyouts" it's different. They can go anywhere on the page and don't have to be about navigation (apart from in the sense that they contain links, of course).
What I wanted to get across was the concept of the approach -- that you can save space on your page by hiding certain parts until the user needs them. Nothing new in that, I know, but this is just a simple approach to the problem I thought it would be useful to share.
Had I had more time I'd have gone on to show how flexible they can be. Unlike the traditional drop-down menu, which is typically just a list of links to other pages, the flyout can contain anything you like, such as the login form. For an example of how you can customise this take a look at the login "flyout" on the Prominic.NET website that Rockall revamped last year. In other sites I've worked on the approach has been used for a variety of tasks, such as a "My Favourites" section in one application.
Whatever you think to them and whether or not "flyout" is the right name to give them the fact remains they are extremely useful and, more importantly, they impress customers and users like them. So there.