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  1. #1
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    Launcher on the Fly

    Hi All,

    I am looking for a "launcher" for Win XP that I can create "launch sets" consisting of 1 or more windows/appls/docs on the fly, and give it a name. Let me explain:
    - say I'm doing HW for class 1. For that, I have 4 windows open which consist of 3 word documents and a browser window to a certain URL (on my computer or on the Internet). These windows, opened at the document/URL, makes up a launch set.
    - later on, I might be doing HW for class 2. For that, I have 3 windows open which consist of 2 word docs (maybe 1 of them being the same as the HW for class 1) and an excel spreadsheet.

    What I'd like to do while doing class #1 HW is be able to open some program that will show me my open windows/applications/documents. There would be a checkbox next to each with the box checked or unchecked. I can then (un)check boxes for windows according to what I want or don't want to be in my launch set. So say I have 5 windows open but only need 4 for that class 1 HW; I'd uncheck the 5th window. Then I'd want to save the configuration of windows/docs/appls so I can open all the windows needed for the class 1 HW later by just clicking on a menu of "window sets" and choosing the name associated with HW-Class1.

    Similarly for HW-Class2.

    Of course, free is nice. I don't want to have to do any pgm'g so scripting pgms (AutoIt?) are out. I looked at nonags's program launcher collection (per Alan Miller's 439304 post from last Dec) and didn't see anything that seemed quite like what I wanted, although some seemed close.

    Any ideas? Did I miss something on nonags?

    TIA

    Fred

  2. #2
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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    That sounds like a pretty tall order Fred. Unless you want to do some scripting or programming, I doubt you'll find anything that specific. I can envisage something that could build as save "launch lists" for the various HW projects you have. These could then be run in the manner you describe, with only the required windows staying open as you switch HWs. But I fear that no single existing application would be geared to it.

    To give some ideas, Batchrun is the closest I've found to building the launch lists. You could run them via AutoIt, using the latter to keep track of what's been opened, what to close and what requires opening, as you switch projects. One of the difficulties is identifying windows accurately. This is greatly simplified if they are opened initially, under your control and a unique identifier like a Handle is returned to you, for your later use. AutoIt provides similar functionality with some of its commands:
    Run ( "filename" [, "workingdir" [, flag]] ) Return Value on Success: The PID of the process that was launched.
    ProcessClose ( "process" ) Parameters - process: The title or PID of the process to terminate.

    In this case, your (stored list of) PIDs gives you the inventory and control of all the processes launched by your application. It will all take a bit of scripting/ programming though.

    Alan

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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Hi Alan,

    Well coming from you, then it seems like there's not much hope.

    I am familiar with programming and have done quite a bit. I just don't have the time now to start up the learning curve of some scripting language.

    But it seems to me that this shouldn't be hard. For example, if I move my mouse over the task bar, windows will tell me what program and what document, if applicable, is in the associated button. That info comes from somewhere. Similarly for the application tab in the Windows task manager. Now if someone could capture that info and provide a GUI with check boxes, I could make my selection. I would not envision it being too hard to write some bat or similar file with some name I also supply in the GUI in some directory, maybe even with a free-form field for a description. All that could be one tab of the GUI called something like "create launch lists". Then a separate tab would present me with the launch lists from that directory, I'd pick one, and all my windows with their docs would open.

    Of course some error checking would be nice. For example, what if the doc doesn't exist anymore (deleted or renamed or moved) or the appl doesn't exist. I'm not too picky here.

    This doesn't seem hard. I just don't have the time to do it -- just the desire to use such a program (and even pay a few bucks).

    Fred

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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Hi Fred

    First, I'm not saying there isn't one, just that I can't find one and that the requirements you have do seem rather specific in terms of what someone might write as a "general purpose" program. Still, it's amazing what bobs up out there (usually after the event <img src=/S/groan.gif border=0 alt=groan width=16 height=15>) and I hope you find something.

    You've tipped me into having a closer look at the new version of AutoIt (a really major expansion IMO) and since "real" work is at a lull, I might use yours as a project to familiarize myself with the new toy <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>. If I do get the time, I'll drop you a PM to get the nitty-gritty/ specifics of your requirements and give it a go. I'm still not quite sure of how you want to formulate your launch lists in the first place, and duplicate/ clone/ modify etc.

    Alan

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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Hi Alan,

    I know you weren't saying in your last email that there wasn't one. But usually you're the one who can find things (not to say others can't). That's all my last email was based on.

    I didn't think this was so specific with respect to a general purpose pgm. I know there are lots of launchers that allow you to launch a specific program and, given the little I've looked at them, I'm not sure of their benefit. When I work on a project, I have several windows open at a time. When I leave for the day and turn off my PC, I want to close all the windows (well, even I didn't, Windows would close them for me on shutdown anyway). Next day, I have to open all the windows/docs all over again. Some is helped by using MRU lists in appls; some is helped by using Recent Docs in the Start Menu. But there should be an easier way.

    Be glad to let you know my specific rqmts when/if you get around to it. Let me know.

    Fred

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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    The "specific" aspect appears to me, to be the way in which you want to devise the launch lists - from the details available from existing open windows. This information is usually related to the features of the window itself, rather than the file that might happen to be opened in whatever application the window is "hosting". When you say "For example, if I move my mouse over the task bar, windows will tell me what program and what document, if applicable, is in the associated button.", this information probably comes from the titlebar of the window, and may not be an accurate reflection of the app/ file in terms of the names you'd need to actually launch that combination with a command. If you wanted to formulate your launch lists by using (say) drag & drop from Windows Explorer, then I'd say you're getting more into the ballpark of a "general purpose" application.

    Alan

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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Alan,

    >this information probably comes from the titlebar of the window, and may not be an accurate reflection of the app/ file in terms of the names you'd need to actually launch that combination

    Agreed. I was just giving an example of some level of knowledge being available to something in Windows in terms of what's open and what I could therefore choose from. I believe the list of applications in the Task Manager is at the same level of info as the tool tips that pop up when I hover over the task bar button. But I view this as an issue in developing a solution, not an issue of specifying the requirement of what I'm looking for.

    Maybe it's time to go private??

    Fred

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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Please keep <!rule=10>Rule 10<!/rule> in mind:
    <hr>Please keep your questions and answers on the open boards. We discourage sending or asking for replies via email or Private Message. This defeats the purpose of the Lounge which is designed to share information as widely as possible.<hr>

  9. #9
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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Hi Hans,

    I certainly am aware of the rule (altho I don't know the numbers as well as you do). I took Alan's suggestion to mean that the exchange of detailed ideas on requirements (that I could provide) and maybe implementations (that Alan might do) might be something really not appropriate for the SW Wants board. I thought the level we were getting to was already bordering on that. If you think it appropriate, I have no problem. I would mention that so far (w/o having checked this morning) that the thread has just been one big exchange between Alan and me. Not that that necessarily justifies a private exchange.

    Thanks.

    Fred

  10. #10
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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    There is no objection to you and Alan exchanging PM's on the subject, of course. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    But if you reach a solution or conclusion, please post it in this thread, so that other Loungers will at least know what came of it, and hopefully benefit from it.

  11. #11
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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Absolutely!

    Fred

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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Fred,

    I've jumped in a bit late here, but totally agree with the mind melding between you and Hans. Use PMs to get the requirements technicalities nutted out, but post the solution... if forthcoming.

    The more I try to fathom the uncharted territory of digging down through process handles, the more I feel that a solution is contingent upon exactly how you want to set up these task lists. Whether you want to call that a requirement or a developmental issue doesn't matter. It's going to be (potentially) the hardest part of the project IMO, if you're wanting to look at something like a task or process list (relatively easy) and from that come up with a list of commands that will (re)launch those same things (the hard bit).

    Just as an example, I ran two Word docs (Word2000/ 98SE) and can identify the (single) winword.exe ProcessID and the windows handles of each "child" document window. I can even dig down to get the filenames (but not paths) for these children. In order to get the paths for these files (which is what you'd need to relaunch them) I had to pull a list of all the handles owned by winword. I've attached them in a text file, because there are 102 of them! Of these, 29 are handles to files that are opened. So the challenge is how to somehow "automatically" pick out the two file paths that you really want. In this case, they are:
    1b4: File E:MYDOCU~1DOCVARS.DOC
    228: File E:MYDOCU~1DOCCON~1.DOC

    Unless there is another way to access this information from outside of the parent application or window, I fear that I won't be able to reach square 1.

    OTOH, if you're prepared to drag files from Windows Explorer, use the Windows Common File Dialogs etc. to make up the lists initially, it will be viable I'd think. There are other issues, like files you might want opened that don't have an associated program, or registered file types that you might want opened in something else. Anyway, they're the constraints as I see them at the moment, so I'll leave it in your court to say whether you think it's worth pursuing.

    Alan
    Attached Files Attached Files

  13. #13
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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    It sounds like you want one of those multi-desktop visual screen thingies <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15> I have a co-worker who has one he really likes and I'm trying hard to remember its name (I can't ask him as he's gone for a month). Basically it lets you set up 'n' number of virtual desktops each with its own set of launched programs & windows. There is this mini grid that sits on the bottom of the screen where you can see images of each of your virtual desktops. You click (or use keyboard combo) to jump to each desktop. It certainly minimizes desktop clutter.

    Do a search for 'virtual desktop software' and you'll find lots of hits. Here's one from Tucows
    http://www.tucows.com/preview/344512.html

    Deb

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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Hi Deb,

    Virtual Desktop sounds like a good idea. But I did a search on Tucows and didn't find much in the first 40 matches that I looked at (of 300). I did look at the one you mentioned. I couldn't really tell from the brief description if it did not I wanted. It wasn't well rated on Tucows either. So I'll keep looking at this category.

    Thanks.

    Fred

  15. #15
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    Re: Launcher on the Fly

    Yes, I agree on the Tucows virtual desktop I referenced. I just randomly picked that as an example since I couldn't remember one that my co-worker uses. At least you now know the name for these types of programs and can now review each one to see which one best suits your needs. Googling 'virtual desktop software' brings up lots of choices.

    Deb <img src=/S/cheers.gif border=0 alt=cheers width=30 height=16>

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