We have a dodger and bimini...both custom made by my wife with a Sailrite machine. I did the frame for both, I feel fortunate my wife can sew so well.
Previously our boat had a racing dodger on her that could fold down. It basically prorected the cabin when it rained and allowed us to leave it open, and whoever sat right behind it when sailing. The helmsman however got pelted and buried with the wind over the top of it. I would be in full foulies and my wife in a T shirt.
We designed our dodger like a second bimini with zip out sides and front. In the hot Chesapeake summers we take all three panels ( 2 side and one large front out and are just left with the bimini with side handles, thus allowing complete air flow. Our front piece is one large picture window as I didnt like how most dodgers had just a zip out center panel so you were always looking through obstruction when the zippers were, even with the panel in. In addition we used Strata Glass for everything. Additionally I installed side rail/ handles on the bimini fram to aid and assist in handholds when walking the gunwhale back to enter and egress thecockpit. These are used quite a bit and were a safety improvement.
We also have a bimini/ It keeps the sun from baking ourt brains. is amazing how much cooler it is at the helm or sitting in the cockpit without the sun beating on you. Again we modified standard design and have two large strata glass windowns on the back end of the bimini to allow seeing the windex and main sail for trimming. Thats a simple solution for those say they cant see to trim their main sail. At the dock or at anchor we have velcro shades to put over the strataglass.
Last year my wife added a connector piece from the bimini to dodger. Now even in the most pouring of rains we can sit high and dry at the dock or at anchor in the cockpit, Kinda of neat eating dinner at anchor in the cockpit while it is pouring rain around you. Also allows you great protection under way where you can stay comfortable with just a jacket on when making passageway in rain. It helps in the cooler months also
She also has made as as well side panels with windows zipping to the inside tops of the dodger ends and bimini which stretch all the way back to the stern corners.
The following photos show the dodger and bimini without connector or side pieces on a rainy day. NOte the windows in the bimini for main sail watching. Also my wife has made a new custom cover to preserve the dinghy from the UV
Dodger with front window zipped out but side panels in