The Design of Software (CLOSED)

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Always on top...

I am amazed that with all the incredible developments in software over the years, noone has been able to develop something that will keep whatever application you are working on on top, thereby relegating annoying pop ups and even other local applications from interrupting you.

I am so tired of typing away only to find that 2 sentences go to waste because something else loaded on top of what I am working on. I find this the most annoying thing about working with a computer. I am surprised that no one has found a  way to fix this problem. It would sure put those pop up assholes out of business.

Any ideas guys?
Big Al
Monday, November 12, 2007
John Topley Send private email
Monday, November 12, 2007
TweakUI has a "Prevent applications from stealing focus" setting.

Unfortunately I find that it quite often mysteriously gets turned off and I have to turn it back on.
Kyralessa Send private email
Monday, November 12, 2007
John, Raymond's blog talks about programs always wanting to be the topmost.

The OP's question is different: he asks why programs insist on dragging themselves topmost when they receive an event they think is important regardless of whether the user thinks they should do that.

I agree with Raymond's analysis that it is impossible to have two programs who are "on top."  However, it is trivial for a developer to write into his app, "don't pull me to the top if the user has told me not to do that - just blink my icon in the task bar."

This is extremely irritating to me too - for me the worst offender is Yahoo Instant Messenger.
Karl Perry Send private email
Monday, November 12, 2007
Good point, Karl. One of the things that I like about using a Mac is that generally the focus doesn't get stolen. Apart from in Safari when Gmail steals it from any other open tabs...grrrr!
John Topley Send private email
Monday, November 12, 2007
Hmmm.... this hasn't happened to me yet with Yahoo Instant Messenger. I only installed it last week though -- ironically I installed it to replace AOL Instant Messenger, with had annoyed me with this problem for a long time. I wonder if my version ( is more recent or if my settings are working to prevent this problem -- I find Yahoo IM just displays its tiny popup window above the taskbar but doesn't steal keystrokes.
Phil Lodine Send private email
Thursday, November 15, 2007
"... this hasn't happened to me yet with Yahoo Instant Messenger."

I did some exploring after sending that post and found Messenger/Preferences/Messages, and "When I receive a new message ..."  I set it to "Minimize the message window to the taskbar" and checked "Show messages at bottom right of screen."  With that set Yahoo isn't annoying anymore.
Karl Perry Send private email
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Don't look at the keyboard when you type !
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I'm playing devils advocate here,

- What about an installer that encounters an error?  I've had many installs sit idle waiting for me to click on some message box that was buried under a bunch of windows.

- Maybe they did usability tests and found:
  + the userbase ignored flashy things on the taskbar
  + users were confused how to get back to the flashy thing
  + "typical users" were less annoyed by stealing focus

- Poor API/documentation?  I've never tried, but is it easy to flash the taskbar compared to making it steal focus?

- Poor community?  A developer asked "how do I get focus?" and somebody actually gave them the answer instead of a stern "dont!"

Anybody wanna fess up to working somewhere that stole focus?  Why?
Cory R. King Send private email
Sunday, November 25, 2007

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