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Shortcut Properties

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Each Montage Shortcut has an associated Properties dialog, which enables you to view and edit many items of information about that Shortcut.  When you create a new Shortcut or select an existing Shortcut and invoke File, Properties, you are presented with a tabbed Properties dialog, through which you can examine and specify all of the pertinent details about that Shortcut.  Properties dialogs are modeless, resizable, forms that logically belong to a Montage Desktop, but they are exterior windows, free to move about the Windows desktop (i.e. Properties dialogs are not confined to the interior of their associated Desktop window).

The layout of each Shortcut Properties dialog is independently saved and restored along with the rest of the view, as preserved in a montage.  When you close a Properties dialog, Montage remembers its last sizing and placement, so that the arrangement of each Properties dialog is recreated when it is next opened.  A few properties also can be manipulated via the Shortcut Options context menu, but most are accessed via the Properties dialog.  Also see the global Shortcuts dialog, which controls actions and options applying to all Shortcuts in a montage.

Tip: Right-click on any field in the Properties dialog to invoke a text editing context menu of commands that simplify data entry.  Note that many fields are disabled (grayed out) if the Shortcut is open, and some fields are always read-only (not editable).  If you right-click on the body of the Properties dialog itself, a generic Form Options context menu is invoked, which allows you to perform actions relating to just that form window.  The Properties dialog supports What's This help, if Montage Help is installed.

Shortcut Properties - Basic pageBasic Page

The Basic properties page contains all of the essential Shortcut settings that determine the application to be launched and the usual parameters governing its behavior.  For external Shortcuts, i.e. Shortcuts to external applications, the Target, Args, and Dir specifications are editable only when the Shortcut is closed - otherwise these fields are read-only.  For internal Shortcuts, i.e. Shortcuts to built-in viewers, only the Title is editable (in the current implementation).

  • Title: caption text displayed below the associated Shortcut's icon.
    The title is automatically word-wrapped to fit on multiple lines.  You must insert spaces to allow any word-wrapping to occur.  Unlike the restrictions that Windows places on file names for links, Montage allows any characters (or none at all) to be used in the name (title) of a Shortcut, and names need not be unique.  The Title is always editable, regardless of Shortcut type or whether it is currently open.  Several properties on the Layout page (Autosize, Width, and Height) also affect the title's appearance.

    Some global Shortcut Style options affect the appearance of all Shortcuts in the montage.  For example, you can quickly toggle the visibility of all Shortcut titles ON or OFF using the View, Display Titles (Shift+F2) option, or use View, Hide Shortcuts (F4) to make Shortcuts disappear altogether.  Also you can select a custom color via the Style, Color... command of the global Shortcuts dialog, to obtain good contrast against any choice of background for the Montage Desktop.

    Tip: Click on the title of a selected Shortcut to edit its title in place, or right-click on the Shortcut and use Title, Copy Title to copy the Shortcut's title onto the Clipboard, without having to go through the Properties dialog.

  • Target: path to the application or document opened by this Shortcut.
    If an association has been defined for the target document type, it will open with its default application.  You can either enter (or paste) the path into the data entry area, or use the Target button to pick an existing file.  (The Target is editable only when the Shortcut is closed.)

    Tip: Right-click on the Target pushbutton to pick a directory, instead of a file.  (Directories are opened via Windows Explorer by default.)

    You may specify either an absolute pathname, or a relative path to a document, folder, or executable file.  Relative target paths are with respect to the specified initial directory, or relative to the montage itself if the initial directory is blank.  If you use the Target pushbutton to select a file, the resulting path will be relative or absolute according to the current setting of the Advanced, Relative Paths option.  In addition to the most common pathname syntax (drive letter:\dirname\subdir\...), Montage also supports UNC (network) paths, URLs (Internet or intranet addresses), and CLSID syntax for Windows special folders.

    Montage also respects the Windows default search paths so you can omit the directory path, for example, when the target is a file or folder in the Windows directory (or any of the other directories on your default path).  In addition, when the target is a registered executable file (as opposed to a document or folder), you can generally use a short application name, omitting the directory part of the pathname (as well as the EXE extension), even if the directory is not on your default search path.  For example, it is sufficient to specify "IEXPLORE" as the target to launch Internet Explorer (IE), where the full path to IE would typically (but not necessarily) be something like "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe".

    Windows environment variables also help to make Shortcut definitions more portable.  For example, "%windir%\system.ini" stands for the system.ini file in your Windows directory, regardless of which version of Windows you have or where it was installed on your machine.

    An additional syntax expansion feature, unique to Montage, is its dynamic Shortcut properties.  When the target specification begins with "=", the rest is interpreted as an expression to be evaluated.  This expression supports the full range of the Microsoft Visual FoxPro (VFP) programming language, augmented by a number of Montage-specific properties and functions.  As a simple example, the following target expression could be used to specify a text file whose name depends upon the current month:
         ="Notes for " + CMONTH(DATE( )) + ".txt"
    where the result of evaluating this expression would be something like "Notes for May.txt", or "Notes for June.txt", etc., depending on the current date.

    Tip: Right-click on the Shortcut and use Miscellaneous, Copy Target Path to copy the Shortcut's fully-expanded target path to the Clipboard.

    Unlike Windows, which disallows the creation of links pointing to non-existing targets, Montage allows Shortcuts to specify a Target file that does not currently exist.  If you attempt to launch a Shortcut whose Target is still missing, Montage will notify you of the error at that time.  But there is another possible outcome due to Montage's unique dynamic Internet fetching capability, which automatically downloads the desired file from a known Internet address to the specified target path, and then opens the local file copy as if it had never been missing in the first place.  Also see the Internet Fetching submenu for related global options, and Fetch Missing Target and the Internet submenu of the Shortcut context menu.

  • Args: optional arguments to be passed to the executable file launched by this Shortcut.
    If the Target is an executable program, as opposed to a document, it may support a variety of optional Windows command line arguments, specified in the Args field.  (Multiple arguments are delimited by spaces.)  For example, many programs expect the first argument to be the path to the file to be opened.  As with the Target and Directory specifications, you may use environment variables and/or dynamic Shortcut properties to express the Args field, which is editable only when the Shortcut is closed.

    Tip: Surround any pathname argument with quotes ("...") if the path contains imbedded blanks, because Windows command line arguments are delimited by blanks.  Otherwise, each word will be treated as a separate argument.

  • Dir: the initial directory or folder from which to open the target of this Shortcut.
    You can enter or paste the directory path into the provided field, or click on the Dir pushbutton to pick an existing directory.  As with the Target specification, you may use either an absolute path, or a relative path to the folder, in relation to the directory containing this montage.  Likewise, if you use the Dir pushbutton to select a directory, the resulting path will be relative or absolute according to the current setting of the Relative Paths option.  This field also supports environment variables and dynamic Shortcut properties, and is editable only when the Shortcut is closed.

    Tip: Leave the Directory specification blank to start in the same directory that contains this montage, or if the initial directory doesn't matter.

Shortcut Properties - Application pageApplication Page

This page displays details about the application program launched by this Shortcut, if known, including any application-specific properties that Montage can monitor and control.

  • Application name: full path of the executable program launched by this Shortcut.
    This may be blank, if Montage has not yet determined it, but otherwise it usually identifies the expected executable program name, which is not necessarily the same as the Target.  Besides being an item of general interest, Montage uses this information internally, to support its application intelligence.  (This field is never directly editable.)

  • Explorer properties - options that only apply to Shell Explorer windows, i.e. either Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer.
    These properties are displayed only when the application name is EXPLORER.EXE or IEXPLORE.EXE.  They cannot be edited directly unless the Shortcut is closed, but you can alter them through the Explorer window itself, and Montage automatically tracks such changes.

    • Tree: checked if target is a split-paned Explorer window, with directory TreeView at left.
      When checked, a directory outline (navigation pane) is displayed on the left side, with a movable splitter bar, and a "Cabinet" pane at the right.  If unchecked, only the Cabinet (aka ListView) pane is displayed.  Montage's timer monitors changes to an Explorer window's TreeView mode (as indicated by the appearance of the special dynamic Explorer icons), and this property is automatically saved and restored (but see MKB00004 about exceptions).  You can override this particular setting by choosing between Open Target and Explore Target when you launch the Shortcut via its right-click context menu.  Double-clicking or pressing the Enter key to launch an Explorer Shortcut restores it to its previous TreeView ON or OFF state.

    • View: view mode for Shell Explorer window.  If unspecified, Windows decides the default.
      This indicates the choice of Large Icons, Small Icons, List, Details, and Thumbnails mode.  (The exact names of available view modes depends on the version of Windows.)  Also there is an "Unspecified" option, which allows Windows to make its own decision about the initial view mode (based on the Windows Registry).  Montage monitors changes to an Explorer window's view mode, enabling this property setting to be automatically saved and restored.

Shortcut Properties - Description pageDescription Page

This page displays an editable, free-form text description or notes about the associated Shortcut.  If Shortcut tips are enabled and the option to display the description has been selected (the default), the description text will be displayed in a floating wait window and the status bar when the mouse is hovered over this Shortcut.  There is a limit of up to 254 characters displayed in a wait window, but the full description, which may be much longer, can be accessed via this page of the Shortcut Properties dialog.  Subject to the preceding limit, Shortcut tips can be displayed in a multi-line wait window, based on line breaks explicitly entered into the description.  Also, Montage automatically folds long lines to avoid exceeding a tip width of 600 pixels.

Tip: Leave the description blank to display basic Target, Arguments, and Directory information as the default Shortcut tip.  See the Tips page of the global Shortcuts dialog for related options.

To include both your description and the basic Target, Args, and Dir information in a Shortcut's tip, Montage supports a special substitution symbol, "++" (a pair on consecutive plus signs), which you can place at the very beginning or end of the description.  In generating the Shortcut tip, Montage substitutes basic target information for the ++ characters, so the extra information is automatically displayed either before or after your description, space permitting.  By using this dynamic ++ substitution mechanism, you can pack a lot of useful information into each Shortcut tip with minimum effort, and revisions to the Shortcut's basic properties will automatically appear in its tip, without further edits to the description.

Shortcut Properties - Layout pageLayout Page

Properties on the Layout page describe the Shortcut's appearance, as well as the placement of the Shortcut's associated target window on the Windows desktop, outside of the Montage Desktop window.

  • Position: pixel coordinates of the Shortcut within the Montage Desktop window.
    You can use the Left and Top spinners in the upper section of the Layout page to make adjustments to Shortcut placement, which can be difficult to do as precisely by dragging and dropping with the mouse.

    Tip: Use the cursor keys to make precise changes to the selected Shortcut's position, without having to open the Shortcut Properties dialog.  Also see the Format menu for commands and hot keys to move and arrange entire columns and rows of Shortcuts in a single action.

  • Autosize: checkbox indicating whether the Shortcut's title is automatically resized to fit its text.
    If checked (the default), the title's height and width are determined automatically, with word-wrapping enabled.  When Autosize is ON, you can still adjust the width (to some extent), but the height becomes a read-only field, because it is derived according to the number of lines required.  The permissible Autosize title widths are dictated by the lengths of words, separated by spaces, so the narrowest allowed width must be sufficient to display the longest whole word.  If Autosize is OFF, you are entirely responsible for specifying the title's dimensions, but automatic word-wrapping is still in effect in either case.  You can also use the Title, Autosize command from the Shortcut context menu to toggle this setting.  Note that autosizing is implicitly turned OFF when you use Ctrl + cursor keys to change the height of a Shortcut, but not if you change its width (without the Shift key).

  • Width: title width, in pixels, for the line(s) appearing below the Shortcut's icon.
    When the Autosize property is checked, you have only limited control over the width setting, because of the effects of word-wrapping.  By inserting blanks in the title text, you can give yourself more flexibility to make smaller width adjustments.  If autosizing is turned OFF, you can adjust the title width continuously, but you will still need to pay attention to the effects of word-wrapping for legibility.  Width adjustments also can be made through the Title, Wider and Narrower commands of the Shortcut context menu

    Tip: Try using Ctrl + left or right cursor key to quickly adjust the with to the the next permissible whole-word break, when Autosizing is enabled.

  • Height: title height, in pixels, for the line(s) appearing below the Shortcut's icon.
    You can only adjust the title height when the Autosize property is unchecked.  Otherwise, when autosizing is turned ON, the height is determined automatically.  You can also adjust the height via the Title, Taller and Shorter context menu commands.

    Tip: Also try using Ctrl + up or down cursor keys to adjust the title height manually.  (This automatically turns the Autosize option OFF.)

  • External Window Position and Size: pixel coordinates and dimensions, Left, Top, Width, and Height of the target window.
    While the target external application is open, Montage monitors and displays its exterior window size and position on the Windows desktop, and these properties are read-only.  If the target is closed, the external window position and size indicate the last known arrangement, which will be restored upon next launching, and you can alter these settings.  If the external window position and size properties are all zero, it means that their values are unspecified, i.e. Windows will determine them automatically (based on information in the Windows registry) when the target is next launched.  You can quickly force the Shortcut back to this "unspecified" state by using the Reset button.

    Note that these properties correspond to the window's "normal" zoom state, regardless of whether it is currently minimized or maximized.  (You can tell the current zoom state by the color of the highlighting when the Shortcut is open.)  This group of properties does not apply to internal Shortcuts for Montage's built-in viewers.

  • Reset: forgets external target window sizing and placement, allowing Windows decide the defaults.
    This sets the Left, Top, Width, and Height properties to 0, meaning "unspecified".  After a Reset, Windows will determine the window position and size automatically (generally based on information in the Windows registry) when the target is next launched.  The Reset button is disabled while the Shortcut is open.

  • Icon: path to this Shortcut's icon image, which is displayed in the Montage Desktop.
    You can enter or paste a path into the data entry field, or click on the Icon button to pick an image file.  The icon file would typically be of type ICO, but Montage also supports ANI, BMP, CUR, DIB, GIF, and JPG file types.  Montage automatically determines a default icon when you specify a Target, but you can override this choice.  (If the specified icon file doesn't exist, Montage substitutes its own default, but if the file exists and is not a valid image, an x-ed out gray box is displayed.)

    When the Shortcut's Icon is Target option is turned ON, the icon path text entry field is disabled, because the icon's path is determined automatically from the Target specification.  However, if you select a different icon by using the Icon pushbutton or the equivalent Icon... context menu command, the Icon-is-Target option is implicitly turned OFF.  When you pick an icon via the Icon pushbutton, as opposed to entering the path directly, the pathname to the icon will be expressed in either relative or absolute form, depending on the global Advanced, Relative Paths setting in effect when the icon was picked.  Whatever changes you make to the choice of icon, you can simply use Reset Icon to Default to revert to Montage's default.  Also see the Copy Icon Path command, the global Image is Icon setting, and additional options on the Icons page of the global Shortcuts dialog.

    Typically, Shortcut icons would reside either in the Montage program directory (for built-in default icons only) or the Icons directory, which Montage populates automatically by extracting icon resources from files as it encounters them.  You may find it useful also to store icons elsewhere, e.g. as files to be distributed along with a portable montage, making appropriate use of relative paths.  As a further refinement, you can employ Montage's dynamic Internet fetching, so that icon images need not be distributed directly, but can instead be retrieved automatically, as needed.

Shortcut Properties - Advanced pageAdvanced Page

The Advanced page provides infrequently used options governing how Montage launches, detects, and controls external applications.   (Normally these settings would be determined automatically when the target is launched, using Montage's built-in application intelligence.)  Except for the last line of options (Close Via, ...), the settings on this page can be modified only while the Shortcut is closed.  These settings may be helpful when dealing with ill-behaved (as opposed to well-behaved) programs that are unfamiliar to Montage.

The Advanced options are provided primarily for testing and development purposes.  If you discover an application for which it is necessary to change any of these settings, please let us know about it, so we can incorporate this knowledge into a future release.

  • Launch Via checkbox: overrides Montage's default launch settings.
    When the Launch Via checkbox is unchecked (the default), Montage automatically determines the best method of launching and detecting the target application specified by the Basic properties.  In this case, the other properties on this page, except for the Close Via checkbox, are disabled (as shown in the screen shot at the right.)  Check Launch Via to manually override Montage's default launching and detection logic, enabling you to specify the following technical parameters.

  • Launch Type combobox: specifies the method of application launching.
    When this is "Unspecified", Montage will determine the launch method automatically upon the next attempt to open this Shortcut.  Otherwise it indicates which of several generic Windows API functions will be used.  (If Launch Type still displays as "Unspecified" after launching, it may indicate that an application-specific COM-based method of launching was used.)

  • No PID checkbox: suppresses use of misleading process ID obtained during launch.
    Normally this is unchecked, allowing Montage to make use of the process ID (if available) in its detection of the target window.  In some unusual cases, though, an application may pass-off to another application without either destroying or revealing the initial process.  Checking the No PID option alleviates this problem by telling Montage to disregard the initial process ID, and settle for a weaker method of detection.

  • Wait on Code: specifies a special value of process exit code on which to wait.
    This numeric code tells Montage that a certain exit code doesn't really mean that the target was closed, nor that there was a pass-off to an existing window, but rather it means that a pass-off to a new window is in progress, and weak detection will be used to discover the target window.  When Wait on Code = 4294967296 (= 2**32), there is no such special case, so any process exit code will be treated as a normal termination, for which there is no point in waiting.

  • No Popup checkbox: ignores initial popup dialogs, splash screen, etc.
    This option tells Montage to disregard any popup windows (those with the WS_POPUP style) that may appear upon launching this Shortcut.  If No Popup is unchecked, Montage will allow the detection of such windows.  By default, this is checked, except for certain specific applications that Montage knows about, e.g. the Windows Calculator, CALC.EXE.

  • Expect Class: window class name pattern for which to wait, if known.
    If non-empty, this specifies a pattern for restricting the acceptable target window class name.  Otherwise, if Expect Class is blank, Montage pays no attention to the window class name in its detection logic.  Pattern matching is case-insensitive, and supports the special "*" and "?" wildcard characters.  Montage ordinarily doesn't need to examine the window class name for well-behaved applications, because a process ID normally is enough.  When a process ID is not available, the expected class name helps to strengthen detection, i.e. it reduces the chance of mis-detection due to asynchronous activity.

  • Expect Title: window title pattern for which to wait, if known.
    If non-empty, this specifies a pattern for restricting the acceptable target window title.  Otherwise, if Expect Title is blank, Montage pays no attention to the window title in its detection logic.  Pattern matching is case-insensitive, supporting the special "*" and "?" wildcard characters.  (As with the expected classname, Montage uses the expected title to strengthen detection when no process ID is available.)

  • No Move checkbox: suppresses restoration of window placement, sizing, and zoom state.
    When this is unchecked (the usual case), Montage automatically saves and restores the target window position, size, and zoom (normal, minimized, or maximized).  If the target application is "self-saving", i.e. it handles these aspects of state-saving and restoration itself (as does Montage), you may wish to check the No Move option, to allow the default application behavior to prevail.

  • Verb: action to perform upon launching via ShellExecute or ShellExecuteEx mode.
    This is normally set to "open", the default verb used by the Windows Shell.  Other permissible values depend on the choice of target application, and this is meaningful only when the Launch Type is either ShellExecute or ShellExecuteEx (not CreateProcess).

  • Close Via checkbox: overrides Montage's default method of closing the target application window.
    This option is unchecked by default, which allows Montage to make its own decision as to how to close this Shortcut.  The remaining options on this page are enabled only if Close Via is checked.

  • Close Type combobox: method of closing this Shortcut's external application window.
    When this is "Unspecified", Montage uses a default method of closing the target application, which works in almost all cases.  If a problem occurs when using the Close Target command, it is possible that choosing another closing method will fix it.  This setting can be changed only if Close Via is checked.

  • Activate: causes the target window to be activated before closing it.
    Depending on Montage's knowledge about the application, this option may or may not be checked.  When checked, Montage brings the target forward, making it the active window before closing it, to be sure that any confirmation dialog (e.g. whether to save changes) is visible.  If Close Via is checked, you can use the Activate checkbox to override Montage's default activate-on-close behavior.

Shortcut Properties - Diagnostics pageDiagnostics Page

Information on the diagnostics page is for developers and advanced users.  The scrollable, read-only editbox displays assorted properties that are used internally.  You can select and copy text from here to paste it somewhere else.  This information is refreshed automatically when Montage's timer is running, except while this field has the focus.  The Diagnostic Message dialog also can be used to display what is shown on this page, e.g. via Tools, Diagnostics... from the main menu.

Controls at Bottom of Dialog

The following pushbuttons and checkbox, along the bottom of the Shortcut Properties dialog, can be accessed while viewing any of the above pages:

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Montage Help page, last edited: 12/31/10 16:20
Copyright SpaceTime Systems 2003-2011