How do I create a floating text box without stealing focus from the user?
Posted on 2010-09-18
Let me first try to describe what I want to do.
Basically, I have a program that needs to continually be monitoring whatever the user is currently typing. At various points in time, when it has gathered sufficient information, it will show a transparent box slightly below where the user has been typing, which contains some possible autocomplete suggestions. The user can choose one of these suggestions, or just completely ignore the box and continue working.
So for example, if they were typing a memo in Microsoft Word, the suggestion box could overlay itself near where they are typing, however, without interfering with the user's workflow. That means that it is important that the box not steal focus from what the user is doing at the moment. However, there would be a special mappable hotkey, such as Ctrl-Alt-Num, where Num would correspond to one of the suggestions offered in the suggestion box, this hotkey would be redirected to my application, and the application would then paste the chosen suggestion into the currently active Windows Control.
Basically, kind of like a application-agnostic autocompletion tool.
Although I'm monitoring/caching what the user is currently typing, what I would ideally prefer is the ability to see into the user's currently active windows control, determine if the control is some kind of input box such as a text box, and than iterate backwards from the cursor position to the beginning of the sentence that they were in the middle of typing.
Right now, this program is still in the design-phase, so I'm completely open to general suggestions as well as detailed help, although I would prefer the latter.
Main points in order of importance:
1. Creating a dynamic graphical box that can appear below the user's cursor without interfering with workflow.
2. Scanning the existing text in user's currently active application.
3. Trapping certain hot-keys and suppressing them from any given active application
This application is being designed in C# for Windows XP and up. Any help is much appreciated.