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Author Topic: IDEA: Transparent window container  (Read 2348 times)

cracksloth

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IDEA: Transparent window container
« on: September 23, 2008, 06:10:26 PM »
i have several programs that are related in some way and that i want to bring to the front together simultaneously.  for example:

Widget style status applications:
   - system monitoring application (samurize)
   - calendar (rainlender)
   - task manager
   - taskbar
   - systray
   - cd art display
   - volume sliders

Audio management:
   - audio player
   - file manager
   - tag manager
   - volume sliders

Work:
   - ms access
   - skype

there are many more examples - pretty much any common computer task that would become more efficient or requires reference to more than one program.  so my idea for a program is this:

the program allows the creation of multiple "window groups".  each window group is bound to a unique hotkey.  when a hotkey is activated, the list of associated windows is brought to the front.  this allows the user to access related programs more quickly without having to bring them each to the surface individually using a taskbar or alt+tab.  using the examples above, if i wanted to access any of my small widget-like programs, i could just hit a hotkey to access the whole window group.  or if i decide to delete/rate the currently playing song, i can switch to the audio window group.  if i see my boss coming, i can quickly switch back to my work window group.  sometimes it may be useful to only specify a single window in a "group" for frequently accessed programs like IM clients (some programs do not support hotkeys).

so there are at least three ways to approach this:
  • one is to create an autohotkey script that would set the defined windows to "always on top" and then sets them back to "normal" (it is a more reliable method than standard "bring to front").  This is probably the easiest way.
  • another way is to create an invisible window that "docks" the programs on its surface - when it is brought to the front, the other windows naturally follow.  this method might be more difficult but it seems like it may *possibly* be more responsive in the real world (but i don't know for sure).
  • the last way i know of, uses an autohotkey command called GroupAdd found here:
    http://www.autohotke...ommands/GroupAdd.htm
    i really don't know much about this or how it might be different than the other options listed.

what do you guys think?  does anyone know which of the 3 options above would be the best way to go?
« Last Edit: September 23, 2008, 07:09:11 PM by cracksloth »

VideoInPicture

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Re: IDEA: Transparent window container
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2008, 06:56:18 PM »
the other way is to create an invisible window that "docks" the programs on its surface - when it is brought to the front, the other windows naturally follow.  this method might be more difficult but it seems like it may *possibly* be more responsive in the real world (but i don't know for sure).

You could modify the source code for Window Extractor: http://windowextractor.wikidot.com to do this and I do believe this would be the most responsive solution since all the windows would be owned in one. However, some programs don't like to be owned by another program, especially those widget types. I would recommend you try an autohotkey solution before you think about pursuing this method.

If you want to test the possibility of modding Window Extractor to do it, download the program from the website and try extracting your programs by hovering over the title bars and press F10. F11 un-extracts them.
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« Last Edit: September 23, 2008, 06:58:06 PM by VideoInPicture »

cracksloth

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Re: IDEA: Transparent window container
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2008, 07:56:35 PM »
thanks for the reply! i'm not really capable of modifying source code so i'll just have to see what i can do with autohotkey - i'm pretty limited in my abilities though (i just butcher other people's hard work).  i still haven't been able to get my ahk script to work right.  anyway, i just thought this was a novel idea for a program so i posted it here in case someone wanted to pick it up.