Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 10, 2016, 12:31:41 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Poll

What do you think of applications stealing focus?

It's a good thing.
It's OK.
It's annoying.
It's outright evil!

Last post Author Topic: Applications Stealing Focus...  (Read 21406 times)

Renegade

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 13,220
  • Tell me something you don't know...
    • View Profile
    • Renegade Minds
    • Donate to Member
Applications Stealing Focus...
« on: December 13, 2007, 06:58:21 PM »
Stealing focus is something that really ticks me off. I can't count the number of times that I've been happily typing along when some application steals focus and I end up doing something very bad. Ok... It's not really THAT often, but when it happens, it can be disastrous.

At a minimum, there should be no default action for a window that steals focus. e.g. The space bar does nothing -- no "OK" and no "YES" or "Cancel" or anything like that.

Thoughts?
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,435
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2007, 07:02:18 PM »
you should clarify -- you mean applications that "pop up" unexpectedly and take focus.  not applications that come up when called.  right?

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,435
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2007, 07:04:39 PM »
The tricky thing is that if they don't take focus, you have to actually switch to them to dismiss/handle them if they don't take focus.. so i'm not sure that the alternative is any better.  maybe something like a sound and delay should proceed a pop up so it can steal focus but still give you warning to stop typing.. i don't know..

justice

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,898
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2007, 07:39:52 PM »
there should be a focus queue (maybe with shortcut) and some visual /audio notification. like a system tray balloon + unique sound, there's software needing your attention click here or press ctrl-shift-alt-caps :P I don't think you should disable keyboard handlers for dialogue boxes though, they should just not get focus until the user tells them to. that's how i see it.

mwb1100

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,522
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2007, 08:30:37 PM »
Jeff Atwood did a recent blog entry about this:  http://www.codinghor...archives/001011.html

His wrap-up line sums it up nicely:

Quote
... please don't steal my focus. I'm using it right now. Really. I am.

icekin

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 264
    • View Profile
    • icekin.com Technology,Computers and the Internet
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2007, 08:44:04 PM »
If you use <a href="http://www.snapfiles...m/get/tweakuixp.html">TweakUIXP</a>, there is a setting to prevent applications from stealing focus. Instead the window will blink a fixed number of times (you set the number) in the taskbar to alert you.

Renegade

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 13,220
  • Tell me something you don't know...
    • View Profile
    • Renegade Minds
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2007, 10:03:25 PM »
you should clarify -- you mean applications that "pop up" unexpectedly and take focus.  not applications that come up when called.  right?

Yes. I suppose "steal focus" is jargon and could be misinterpretted.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Renegade

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 13,220
  • Tell me something you don't know...
    • View Profile
    • Renegade Minds
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2007, 10:04:48 PM »
If you use <a href="http://www.snapfiles...m/get/tweakuixp.html">TweakUIXP</a>, there is a setting to prevent applications from stealing focus. Instead the window will blink a fixed number of times (you set the number) in the taskbar to alert you.

I tried it, but it never seemed to work for me. :(
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Renegade

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 13,220
  • Tell me something you don't know...
    • View Profile
    • Renegade Minds
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2007, 10:13:31 PM »
Jeff Atwood did a recent blog entry about this:  http://www.codinghor...archives/001011.html

His wrap-up line sums it up nicely:

Quote
... please don't steal my focus. I'm using it right now. Really. I am.

I liked the part:

Quote
Stealing focus from the user is never acceptable. I can't imagine any circumstance where this would be desirable or even defensible behavior.

100% agreed there.

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Renegade

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 13,220
  • Tell me something you don't know...
    • View Profile
    • Renegade Minds
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2007, 10:16:41 PM »
there should be a focus queue (maybe with shortcut) and some visual /audio notification. like a system tray balloon + unique sound, there's software needing your attention click here or press ctrl-shift-alt-caps :P I don't think you should disable keyboard handlers for dialogue boxes though, they should just not get focus until the user tells them to. that's how i see it.

I don't think that an audio notification is appropriate. It's effectively "stealing audio focus". What if I'm recording? Again, bad.

The system tray balloon thing seems to be the most reasonable. However, you *could* say the same thing about that... But something needs to act as a notifier. A balloon seems to be the most unobtrusive.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 7,724
    • View Profile
    • The Blog of Deozaan
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2007, 12:53:49 AM »
Biggest Offender:

Windows Update Restart notification window! I HATE THAT THING!

I'LL SMURFING REBOOT WHEN I WANT TO!  :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash:


nosh

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 1,426
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2007, 04:35:38 AM »
I tried it, but it never seemed to work for me. :(

Agreed. The TweakUI thing is quite moody. I don't have apps stealing focus so often, my biggest problem is already running apps _preventing_ focus for an app I just ran. Sometimes, when I start Xplorer2 it'll open minimized and blink in the taskbar. The only way out seems to be an AutoHotkey shortcut which launches it and then makes sure it gets focus.

icekin

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 264
    • View Profile
    • icekin.com Technology,Computers and the Internet
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2007, 09:18:33 AM »
Biggest Offender:

Windows Update Restart notification window! I HATE THAT THING!

I'LL SMURFING REBOOT WHEN I WANT TO!  :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash:

<a href="http://lifehacker.co...start-nag-289998.php">Solution</a>

yksyks

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 476
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2007, 09:56:31 AM »
The TweakUI setting works fine, the problem for me is that it doesn't stay too long. I tried to find the culprit and the one caught was ATI Catalyst video driver suite which resets this setting upon every restart. This can be easily fixed by running simple batch file like this:

REG ADD "HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop" /v  /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00030d40 /f
REG ADD "HKU\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop" /v ForegroundLockTimeout /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00030d40 /f

I'm running this as a last program on startup and it helps. However, from time to time the setting gets reset anyway and so far the culprit escapes.

I'm using RegMon for monitoring the value "ForegroundLockTimeout" changes.

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2007, 10:21:48 AM »
It's outright evil. And alas, even with the "don't steal focus" stuff added in XP (or whenever), it's still possible to steal focus if you call the right APIs in the right order.
- carpe noctem

housetier

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 1,321
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2007, 11:36:33 AM »
Stealing of focus is bad enough, but it's worse when the thievish dialog also starts something important: delete a file or database entry, reboot, format, "tweak" something else.

I like the queue idea a lot. I also think there might be times when immediate attention is required. The QT (queue thing) could flash brighter colors or even play a sound when the urgency is high enough. Determining the urgency is a science itself I know... but back to QT: Basically it would say "here is something that needs your attention, please deal with it".

So instead of popping up a dialog "Format disk now? [y]es [j]a [o]ui [s]i [d]a" the oh-so-important application can enqueue it in the QT. Unless of course the user is currently working "in" the application, in this case it can and should display the popups.

Maybe the operating system could take the part of the QT, queuing dialogs from applications that didn't have the user's focus at the time the "requested" feedback. And better yet, the QT should be configurable for those who like this kind of interruption.

e712

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2007, 11:37:36 AM »
Biggest Offender:

Windows Update Restart notification window! I HATE THAT THING!



Yes -- and the default is OK.  ...and my mouse is set to point to the default reply when a window pops up.  I think I'm moving my text editor pointer, but I get a reboot instead.  

Lashiec

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,374
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2007, 12:03:27 PM »
Nastiest option, of course. Windows Update it's not exactly a big offender, as it downloads the updates whenever I instruct it to do so (that means I refrain myself for doing something during that time period), but other software... OK, my main problem is not software stealing focus, as I don't remember it happening too often (they flash instead, that's a much better idea), but particular implementations in some software or Internet services.

Why the f****** GMail tab has to steal the focus of what I'm reading at the moment? Why IE can't pop up a nifty dialog at the top of the window likes it does with most warnings when a page wants to install something?

Considering the rather excellent implementations other software (popup notifications like Firefox, Miranda or Opera), or the same Windows (tooltips in the systray, that's fantastic!), I can't figure out why some others insist in stealing focus prompting for your intervention and (possibly) starting a disaster in your computer.

If you really have to popup a window, make sure that you use ONLY the mouse to interact with it (no keyboard keys allowed), and set as default the less dangerous option of the dialog. Think in antivirus software nag screens when they encounter a virus in your computer, practices like these should be de facto in every security software, for the havoc or lack of it they could unleash on the machine.

housetier

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 1,321
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2007, 12:25:51 PM »
I have never had the tab with gmail steal the focus. Sometimes a tab seems to steal focus, but it is always some FT (flash thingie) that's responsible.

Lashiec

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,374
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2007, 12:30:20 PM »
I'll tell you it happens here constantly, but I should clarify it only happens when GMail has finished loading the interface and the mails after the initial login process.

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 7,724
    • View Profile
    • The Blog of Deozaan
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2007, 12:55:52 PM »
Biggest Offender:

Windows Update Restart notification window! I HATE THAT THING!

<a href="http://lifehacker.co...start-nag-289998.php">Solution</a>

There was one I heard about some time ago that let me change it so instead of asking me every 4 minutes I could change it to 24 hours or something. Anyone know about that one?


Lashiec

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,374
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2007, 01:24:39 PM »
There's one that lets you configure the time window before the computer restarts itself due to the installation of an important update. If you wish, I can paste here the code from the X-Setup Pro plugin, as I can't find anything on the Internet about how to apply it, at least not something as useful as the code.

Darwin

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 6,984
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2007, 03:20:19 PM »
If you use <a href="http://www.snapfiles...m/get/tweakuixp.html">TweakUIXP</a>, there is a setting to prevent applications from stealing focus. Instead the window will blink a fixed number of times (you set the number) in the taskbar to alert you.

I tried it, but it never seemed to work for me. :(


My pet peeve is that this setting never seems to survive a reboot... and I've given up on using the tweak altogether. Anyone know the registry changes made - it would be nice to have a .bat file run on system start...

EDIT: better to read the entire thread befrore commenting  :-[

http://www.donationc...25.msg90924#msg90924

Thanks, yksyks  :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin
« Last Edit: December 14, 2007, 03:22:47 PM by Darwin »

Darwin

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 6,984
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #23 on: December 14, 2007, 03:26:59 PM »
Quote
Biggest Offender:

Windows Update Restart notification window! I HATE THAT THING!

I'LL SMURFING REBOOT WHEN I WANT TO!

Smurfing - bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I love it. I think you've mentioned this as an alternative to, ahem, less savoury language in the past, but I've never seen you use it action. Awesome  :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Josh

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Points: -5
  • Posts: 3,397
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Applications Stealing Focus...
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2007, 05:15:35 PM »
This is a pet peeve of mine from the days of windows 95. DCUpdater is one application from DC that also has this fault, in fact its forced me out of some dx games which causes windows to choke. No application should steal focus unless it is a virus scanner, spyware scanner, or other security tool.