Pitney Bowes
MapInfo Pro™ Monthly Journal

WindowHelper 1.5 - Managing windows

Some years back I started working on a small utility that would prevent a MapInfo Professional user from losing their layer settings when, for example, they mistakenly hit the close button in the upper right corner of the Map window. The first version of this tool made it possible to disable the close button of any or all windows.

The second version of the tool expanded on this by storing every window just before they are closed. Afterwards the user could choose to restore one or more of their closed windows - provided the tables used in the window were still open.

In this article I'll give you a small introduction to the latest version of WindowHelper, version 1.5, and show you how it can help you manage your windows. The latest version requires MapInfo Professional 10.5.2 as it takes advantage of some of the capabilities added with this version.

I'll also share some features that I'm working on for the next release coming later this year.

WindowHelper 1.5 - Managing windows

When you first run the tool the first thing you'll notice is the dockable window called WindowHelper.

This window can be docked just like the Layer Control and gives you an overview of the windows currently open in MapInfo Professional.

The window has three tabs: Current, Closed and Special. Let's have a closer look at each of these.

Current windows tab

The first tab gives you an overview of your "document" windows grouped by Maps, Browsers, Layouts as well as a list of all of your windows.

Above these you will notice some tools for cloning, locking , unlocking, closing and docking the selected window. (Try saying that five times fast!)

The cloning feature is handy for layout windows as MapInfo Professional does not have this capability on its own.

The docking feature lets you convert a window into a dockable window. This allows you to use the window in the same ways as the Table List, Layer Control, Catalog Browser, Named Views and Move Map To windows. (As an aside, the Named Views window is associated with the Named Views MapBasic tool in the Tool Manager. The Move Map to window is associated with the MapInfo Premium Services). Thanks goes to Nathan Woodrow who shared some code showing how to make any window dockable.

If you double click on a window in the lists, you will be able to change the name and/or the size of the window. 


Closed windows tab

On the closed windows tab you will find a list of the windows that you have closed during this session. You can double click any of these windows to reopen them .

Please note that WindowHelper only stores the settings of the window itself. It does not store what tables to open. This means that the tables used in the window have to be open in order for WindowHelper to be able to reopen the window. 


The Special windows tab

The final tab in the WindowHelper window is the Special tab. Here you see a list of the special windows of MapInfo Professional, such as the MapBasic window, the Info window and the Ruler window.

All of these windows can be made to be dockable. 

The WindowHelper menu

Besides the capabilities in the WindowHelper window, you will also find some extra features in the WindowHelper menu. The menu is found in the Tools menu.

Through this menu you can bring back windows that might not be visible because they outside of the viewable area of your monitor. An example of when this can happen is if you have a workspace that was originally created on a 24 inch screen but you are now opening it on a 15 inch laptop. When this is the case it is possible for a window, such as the Info Tool window to be located outside the display of your monitor.

You can also store and restore the position of the special windows. You can auto-store the positions on shut down, and auto-restore the position of the windows on startup. Or you can store and restore the positions manually.

An example

Below you can see an example of what can be done using the capabilities to make windows dockable. Here I have docked the MapBasic window, the Message window, the Info window. I have also docked a browser window and in the right top corner I have docked a map window. 

In this screen shot various windows have been docked on the side and bottom of the screen.

Next version

I have added some new features to the shortcut menus of the Layer Control and the Table List window that lets you easily locate a tab file in Windows Explorer or open it in your favourite text editor. And a few other minor features.

I'm also working on an improved zoom next/previous feature that lets you switch between a number of previous views in your map.

I'm also very interested in feedback on what other features might be handy to add to WindowHelper. So if you have some feedback or request, please share it with us on ideas.pb.com. You can choose the "MapInfo Professional" category and include "WindowHelper" in your subject line. Or send me an email at peter.moller@pb.com.

If you find this tool interesting you can download it from our MapInfo Professional download section.