in reply to (OT) Work flow in Web based applications

I can see some problems with using a mode stack in the context of a web application. I've seen this approach used to good effect for desktop applications, but I think it's a little trickier for a CGI script.

The first thing that comes to mind is, what do you do with incompletely entered data? Let's say your "add a product" screen has 10 fields, plus the "assign contacts" area. I fill in all the fields, then realize my contact doesn't exist yet. So I jump to the "add a contact" screen.

In a desktop application, this is fine; the contact entry screen appears "on top" and once I'm done adding the contact, I return to the product entry screen, with the state of everything (including whatever I typed in those 10 fields) fully preserved.

But in a CGI context, what happens? Do you create a new product record in the database, with my (perhaps partially entered) product information? If so, there are obvious potential problems. (What if I realize I don't know all the contact information yet, and it's time to go home, and I'll deal with it tomorrow?) But if not, then when you return me to the product entry screen, I have to re-enter those 10 fields.

I'm just thinking out loud here... haven't really thought it through. But I wonder if you could use popup windows and/or frames, combined with JavaScript/DHTML for updating, to get the same effect you have in a desktop app where a new mode can be pushed onto the stack without touching the state of anything beneath it.

Sorry if this was less than lucid. I'll try to elaborate and/or clarify when I have a chance.