Friday, September 29, 2006

Browser window relative screen position

This morning, I noticed an issue with a particular popup browser window that my development team's browser-based application opens. With the application running in an Internet Explorer instance in the right monitor on my dual-monitor dev system, when the popup window was opened, it appeared in the center of the left monitor.

I decided to change this behavior to have the new popup window appear on top of the parent window, to make the appearance of the new window more obvious. I knew that the location of the new window could be specified relative to the screen in parameter 3 of the Javascript, windowName, windowFeatures) call in IE using the top and left attributes, like:'http://localhost/', 'newWindow', 'top=200,left=300')

What I wanted to do was supply top and left attribute values based on an offset of the screen position of the parent browser window. However, it wasn't clear to me how to get the parent window position.

Google searches such as javascript window screen position weren't much help -- no obvious solutions to my question among the first several pages returned. Searching on "location" instead of "position" was even less help, since the results included a lot of keyword collisions with the location (URL) property of the window object.

Eventually I did come up with a page with the answer I was looking for by searching on "screenX", the attribute used with on Navigator/Mozilla/Firefox to specify the horizontal position of a new window. The solution: In IE, the screenLeft and screenTop properties give you the horizontal and vertical positions of the browser window relative to the screen, respectively. (screenX and screenY are apparentely the equivalent properties in Mozilla, although I haven't tested this myself.)

On a page with frames, self.screenLeft will return the horizontal position of the current frame relative to the screen, whereas self.screenleft will give you the position of the browser window relative to the screen.

Interestingly, support for the screenLeft and screenTop properties apparently was first introduced in Internet Explorer 5. (This is why my copy of The Flamingo was no help in finding the solution -- my old copy is only current through IE 4.) This seems to indicate that in IE 4, you could set the position of a window (either initially in the call, or later via the window.moveTo() method), but there was no way to get the position of the window!

In any case, I was able to solve my original problem of the IE popup window appearing in the wrong place by getting the screen coordinates of the parent window using calls to top.screenLeft and top.screenTop, then adding a delta to each of those values and using the adjusted values in the call to

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Firefox Find Next/Prev shortcut keys

Firefox provides pretty nice hotkey support for the "Find Next" / "Find Previous" functionality of its incremental find/search feature. For the "Find Next" feature, several hotkeys are supported:
  • Alt + n - Displayed on the Firefox Find Bar
  • F3 - Standard in many Windows applications (Visual Studio, Word, notepad.exe, but not IE)
  • Ctrl + g (Find again) - Displayed in the Firefox Edit menu; used by a few other apps

For "Find Previous", Alt + p, Shift + F3, and Ctrl + Shift + g are supported, which nicely mirror the "Find Next" shortcuts.

I like this broad hotkey support for these functions; I think the (arguable) inelegance of the redundant hotkeys is outweighted by the usability benefit of having whichever common Find Next hotkey combination that is intuitive to a particular user be supported.

The incremental find feature itself and its benefits have already been covered pretty well by Jeff Atwood -- head over there to read up if you aren't familiar with the feature.