System and Method to Display Partial Non-Active Windows over the Active Window
Original Publication Date: 2004-Sep-20
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Sep-20
A system and method to mark and display portions of non-primary windows over primary windows. It also includes a management system that allows the user to save between reboots, allows a defined "pecking order", configurable action when a hotspot is clicked (bring to focus or not), and ability to programmatically determine when to bring to forefront (weather alert, stock movement %, etc.). The shapes are not limited to rectangular only; elliptical areas could be 'shown through' the primary window as well.
System and Method to Display Partial Non -Active Windows over the Active Window
Users of modern graphical user interface operating systems (such as Microsoft Windows) frequently open many windows, and it is cumbersome for them to have to switch between these windows as the primary active 'focus' window to gather the information needed and/or interact with each window.
For instance, suppose the user has a browser window showing weather, another window showing email, and a third showing stock prices. The user likes to work with each application maximized, but desires to see certain information from each application's (maximized) window, simultaneously. This isn't possible today using conventional windows management software.
The idea here is to allow the user to mark in a sizable context an area of a window, either in an elliptical or rectangular shape, and save that area as an "always on top" hotspot. Then, when the user turns on the 'hotspots visible' mode (e.g. key combo like Ctrl+H), all active hotspots "burn through" any windows on top of them, and are visible to the user. In effect it would be like having the ability to cut a hole in the topmost 'active'
window to view a part of a window located somewhere below in the z-order stack. The result would be to allow the user the ability to customize his/her presentation space to their liking and aggregate many distinctly different functions and applications into one presentation space.
To continue with the example stated in the Problem section above, suppose I select a subset of the stock window that I want as a hotspot:
Then I select (using a freeform selection rather than rectangular) a portion of the weather window:
After I toggle visibility of the hotspots on, and bring up the maximized email window, I would see something like:
Note that the weather and stock sub-sections 'bleed through' the maximized email interface. I can now still work with my email, yet keep a close eye on the stock and weather. At any time I can temporarily toggle the hotspot display off, then back on, as needed.
This could be used within an application as well. For instance, when working on a spreadsheet with many tabs one could foresee highlighting an area in one tab to bring up and view next to the area of another tab. Or, when vie...