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Author Topic: DONE: Dim rest of desktop/windows, except for focused window  (Read 69561 times)
jsmallberry
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« on: April 30, 2005, 10:46:51 AM »

Something I’ve always thought would be kind of neat.  Dimming the entire desktop and other windows, maybe 50% brightness, except for the window that currently in focus.  This allows the user to really focus on the window at hand.  I think this would be good, too, for using the computer in low light conditions.

I don’t know, maybe not the most useful app, but I think it would be cool.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2006, 04:31:55 AM by brotherS » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2005, 11:12:53 AM »

that would be very cool..

not sure how the hell you'd do it though..
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bob
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2005, 11:37:03 AM »

I like it..... Something like the old desktop dimmer screensaver, but doesn't work on the active Window.  I wonder if some of the more sophisticated color selectors (Like CDCC) allow you to darken the body elements of inactive windows, like you can, for example, the title bar... This would produce the same, or a similar effect.
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mouser
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2005, 11:51:51 AM »

it might be possible to write something like this into the big desktop replacement tools like windowblinds.. but short of that i'm not sure how one would code it, UNLESS there is a hidden windows registry entry for inactive window color.  there is a setting for default window color which you can set from desktop properties.. so its not an insane concept that there could be a hidden window color for inactive windows..
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bob
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2005, 12:04:30 PM »

I just checked Jasmin's 3DCC, and it'll let you color inactive captions, caption text, gradients, and borders, but not the body  of the window itself
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jsmallberry
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2005, 12:41:28 PM »

Here's a couple of possibilities:
1)  Make a program that is just a blank form (actually 4 of them) and no titlebar.  Set the forms to be 50% transparent (or whatever is set) with 'SetLayeredWindowAttributes'.  Make this form top most always.  Position the forms around the currently focused window, covering the entire desktop, but not the focused window.

Maybe not better, but an idea nonetheless:
2) Set the transparency of all other windows, but the focused one.  After setting the transparency, change the wallpaper, to a darker version of itself (I guess the wallpaper would always stay dark, unless the user disables the dimming effect)

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mouser
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2005, 12:52:51 PM »

interesting ideas.

the first idea might look right, but as i have discovered with desktopcoral - the problem is that you would make it impossible to now "select" the windows that are behind the transparent mask.

the second idea is much more intriguring...
leaving aside the wallpaper, you could make all other windows transparent unless they are the active window..
now this actually seems feasible and is interesting.. would also make it easier to make exceptions to the rule, so that you could specify certain apps that shouldn't have their windows made 50% transparent...
clever idea, and seems doable.
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jsmallberry
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2005, 01:00:39 PM »

For the first idea, you would have to make the form click-through by using the sendMessage api to the window below it.  Yeah, it seems like it would be a pain, not for the few hour requirement.
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valhala
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2005, 01:07:14 PM »

This is f**** simple to do... Look back in a few days... I'll post porggy...
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mouser
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2005, 01:20:10 PM »

ok then, valhala this one is yours.
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BlindWanderer
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2005, 08:22:44 PM »

There is an application GhostIt that makes windows possible to click through. Now if you made a window that hung just below the top most window, that was black and semi trans it would have the effect of dimming all others. No idea how hard it would be to code.
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mouser
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2005, 08:40:06 PM »

very interesting app.

http://home.rochester.rr.com/artcfox/GhostIt/

can someone try this with DesktopCoral and see if it allows you to put icons in the corral and click through to them?
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geektechnu
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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2005, 06:57:07 AM »

Another program (discontinued) does a similar thing.
Puts a semi-transparent image above everything. Windows behind the image can still be active.

http://vazagi.homepage.dk/DP.html

If only the active window could be brought to the front...
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Dragonrider
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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2005, 04:13:27 PM »

I believe this can be relatively easily done in a scripting language called AutoIt.  The program will have the following capabilities:

* It will dim the desktop to 1/3 of it's normal brightness.
* It will only dim windows once the user clicks on a window and makes it active.
* It then makes all visible / non-minimized windows dim to 1/2 brightness except for the active window.
* It runs from the system tray without a GUI  & options are accessed via the system tray menu.
* All visible windows are still accessible even though dimmed including the desktop & its icons.
* The amount of dimming for the desktop & nonactive windows can be set in the options dialog box invoked via
    the system tray menu.
* By default it checks every 1/4 of a second (250 milliseconds) for changes in the active window.  This interval can
     be changed in the options dialog box.

Is this about what you are looking for?

Regards
Brian Keene
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Dragonrider
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2005, 06:19:06 PM »

Hi Everyone:
I've attached a zip file (~150K) for those people who would like to try a proof of concept of the program I described in my last message.  It has a MAJOR bug in it, but it does show that what has been asked for in this thread can be done.  I will be revamping how I check for the active window in the next version.

Just to let you know what the bug is that I found.  If you have a few windows up & you run this program everything works fine.  But if you start another program while WinFocus is running it may or may not work correctly.  It may just stop changing the focused window if the title of the new program can't be read.  I'm planning on using window handles instead of window titles to recognize unique windows, but this means doing a major redesign of the program.  But this program does give you a sense of how it will work.

I am hoping people are monitoring this tread & will let me know what they think of it, how it ran on their Win2K/XP/2003 systems, what OTHER bugs there might be, etc.

Regards
Brian Keene

* WinFocus-v1.0.zip (148.57 KB - downloaded 802 times.)
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mouser
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« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2005, 02:17:56 PM »

cool!

although as you say, it gets confused if new windows appear, i have to say, its quite cool, and in fact just using it for a second or two, you can see that it is a neat idea for a program, and maybe one worth taking the time to write in visual c++ for optimum speed.

i had real doubts about whether this would be anything but an annoying thing to use, but it's actually kind of a fun effect, that might be worth spending some time on.
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Dragonrider
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« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2005, 02:12:32 PM »

I'm hoping to put the following things into the script this week if time permits.

* Fixing the new window problem.
* Allowing the user to interactively & from the cmdline to change the interval WinFocus checks for a new active
   window, the transparency of the background, & the transparency of the windows.
* Making an options dialog box to do the changing of values described above.
* Making a tray icon menu to allow disabling of the program, the ability to start from windows startup, & the
   ability of having the options window stay on top of all other windows while the user adjusts values in it.

But fixing the new window problem is the highest priority & I may have to postpone the other stuff for a couple of weeks since I'm preparing to attend a protest in Washington during the week of 05/22/05.  So it may take a couple of weeks to get everything done.

So please bear with my slow coding.

Regards
Brian
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nudone
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« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2005, 02:42:45 AM »

had a quick play around with it on my system Brian but it seemed to have a mind of it's own - there didn't appear to be any pattern to how it behaved in ghosting windows, it was just clear that it wasn't happy.

i've got samurize running with alpha blending so maybe it was that causing the problem - it didn't get any better with that turned off though.

if i can spot a pattern to the irratic behavour i'll let you know exactly what it is doing.
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mouser
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« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2005, 03:13:46 AM »

it sounds like keene knows the problems,
i was more interested in just the basic effect.

i thought it was going to be an annoying effect, but it was actually kinda nice to have all but active window dimmed..
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glenelg
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« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2005, 07:54:45 AM »

I've always liked the way XP fades to black and white when you shutdown.  It would be nice to have a small application that would toggle the entire desktop to monochrome but let you continue working and toggle back to colour the next time it's run.  Alternatively a tray icon or a context menu option would be just as nice.

I know that there are various tools to allow you to create and change XP styles but I'm looking for something simpler I guess.

Any takers?

cheers
Fras
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mouser
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« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2005, 07:57:15 AM »

this sounda a lot like the dim-all-windows-but-foreground-window request..
i think this is sounds increasingly like a fun feature that people are interested in.

i'll leave this thread separate for a while and then i think merge it with the dim-windows thread, as i think they are highly related.
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glenelg
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« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2005, 08:04:39 AM »

Sounds cool.  It's been on my mind for a while but I must admit, the dim windows request brought it to the fore.

I've just thought of another option that could also be merged with these two ideas.  How about a screensaver that dims / desaturates the desktop so that any active tasks are still visible and can continue to be monitored.

cheers
Fras
PS:  I wish my programming skills weren't so rusty  smiley
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mouser
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« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2005, 08:16:57 AM »

the screensaver ideas sounds like a niceand easy thing to do..
i wonder if it doesnt already exist....
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Dragonrider
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« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2005, 09:11:58 AM »

Mouser:
Your right, it does sound like the Dim windows & desktop idea.  And I would like to put it into that program as well.  But I don't believe AutoIt can do this.  But I'm not willing to give up just yet.  I'll look into it and let you know here whether it can or can't be done in AutoIt.

Regards
Dragonrider
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Scott
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« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2005, 02:40:31 PM »

I know that there are various tools to allow you to create and change XP styles but I'm looking for something simpler I guess.

You want something simpler than:

1.  Right click on Desktop.
2.  Select Properties.
3.  Change theme.
4.  Click OK.

...?
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« Next Edit: Tomorrow at 12:13:47 AM by Scott »
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