MDI vs. SDI: What's the Difference?

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Primary Difference

There are different ways to differentiate between a graphic user interface and one simple way of doing this is to see how many options on the screen can be showed at a single time. There are two different types of interface designs which are in use that handle the documents on a computer screen. These are known as MDI and SDI. Both are different from each other and that is shown when we explain the terms. SDI stands for Single Document Interface while MDI stands for Multiple Document Interface. They can be further elaborated in a way that, a Graphic User Interface which is able to show one document at a time on the screen is known as SDI while the interface where multiple documents can be showed at one time is known as MDI. The best example of SDI will be a notepad where only one window can be opened at a single time, another example can be the windows prompt command. The most feasible example of MDI can be several latest applications which include all the latest web browsers and applications such as Facebook and twitter. There is also another difference which comes in the form of grouping which exists whenever an MDI is used but this option is not available in SDI and can only be achieved with the help of command window. There are many other differences between them too which will be listed at the end but a brief description of both these will be given in the next two paragraphs.

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Comparison Chart

MDISDI
Full NameMultiple Document InterfaceSingle Document Interface
TypeIt is the type of Graphic User Interface which is able to show more than a single document at a time on the screen.It is a Graphic User Interface which is able to show one document at a time on the screen.
MaximizationAll the documents can be maximized in the MDIThere needs to be a special command in order to maximize the documents.
ExampleLatest web browsers.windows notepad

Definition of SDI

This is a term which is known as Single Document Interface and is a Graphic User Interface which is able to show one document at a time on the screen. Any type of program which does not have the ability to show more than one document is considered to be and SDI type of user interface. There are many examples of this type such as internet explorer 6 and the ones before that. Notepad is another example where you can just show one window at a time and windows command is another similar application. The main advantage of this type of interface is that it is simple to use and a complicated task can be performed in an easy manner without switching from one app to the other.

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Definition of MDI

This term is known as Multiple Document Interface and is the type of Graphic User Interface which is able to show more than a single document at a time on the screen. Any type of program which has the ability to show more than one document is considered to be and MDI type of user interface. The best examples of this type of interface include all the latest web browsers where multiple tabs can be opened at the same time to see all the information that is required. The main advantage of such type of interface is that the work can be performed quickly as compared to one screen but the main disadvantage is that the latest opened windows are not shown once they are closed.

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Differences in a Nutshell

  1. All the documents can be maximized in the MDI while there needs to be a special command in order to maximize the documents.
  2. Graphic User Interface which is able to show one document at a time on the screen is known as SDI while Graphic User Interface which is able to show more than one document at a time on the screen is known as MDI.
  3. SDI stands for Single Document Interface while MDI stands for Multiple Document Interface.
  4. Documents can be switched easily in the MDI while command window is used to switch between them in SDI.
  5. The best example of SDI is windows notepad while the best example of MDI is the latest web browsers.
  6. There is grouping once more than the required number of tabs are opened in MDI while this is not possible in SDI.

Conclusion

Computer is something that is a mystery for people who are general users and do not have a detailed knowledge of it. The two terms MDI and SDI are similar ones which are considered same but are different in the working and functions. This article, therefore, gives a proper understanding of the two types for people to get a clearer idea.