Sunday, March 14, 2010

Atlantis settings, or When the late bird gets the worm

In most cases Atlantis is represented by a single button on the Windows Taskbar no matter how many documents you create or open simultaneously. On the other hand, each open document has its own separate button on the Atlantis Document Bar within the Atlantis main window. This is so that Atlantis will always leave enough elbowroom on the Windows Taskbar for the buttons of other applications. Having a single running instance of Atlantis also saves system resources: only one main window with menus, toolbars, status bar, Control Board is created instead of several.

So whenever possible Atlantis tries to keep only one running instance of itself. For example, when you double-click a document associated with Atlantis in Windows Explorer, your Windows system automatically starts launching a new instance of Atlantis to open that document. But this is not the whole story. When it is launched, Atlantis always checks if it might not already be running. When another instance of Atlantis is already running (and it is not busy displaying a modal dialog), the new instance launched by your Windows system simply shuts itself down quietly without even getting into view, and the requested document opens in the first running instance of Atlantis. In other words, Atlantis automatically cancels any redundant instance of itself.

However at times you might end up with two running instances of Atlantis, each running instance having its own "main window" and its own button on the Windows Taskbar. This happens when the first instance of Atlantis is busy performing some other important action and cannot be distracted from the job in hand. In such cases, a new instance of Atlantis is actually launched to answer the Windows system call.

Having several running instances of Atlantis is unproblematic provided your system has enough resources. What's more in some cases you have no choice but to run an extra instance of Atlantis in order to complete a task. Let's take an example. Let's suppose that you have started specifying properties for an eBook in the modal dialog displayed by the Save as eBook command of Atlantis. You then realize that you need to retrieve some of the required information from another Atlantis document. But you cannot open that document right now in Atlantis without closing the "Save as eBook" modal dialog. This would make you lose all the eBook properties already entered. In such cases, it is much smarter to leave the "Save as eBook" dialog open, but launch an extra instance of Atlantis, and open the document in that new instance.

You might ask "how do I launch a new instance of Atlantis?” Simply double-click the Atlantis shortcut on the Windows Desktop, or click the "Start" button on the Windows Taskbar and choose the Atlantis shortcut in the "Program Files" menu.

You can then open any relevant document in the new instance of Atlantis and send the required information to the Windows clipboard (select and copy with Ctrl+C). That information can then be pasted into the original "Save as eBook" dialog with Ctrl+V after you have switched to the first instance of Atlantis.

Of course, you can close the second instance of Atlantis when you have finished retrieving and pasting all the necessary information.

Again there is nothing wrong with running multiple instances of Atlantis. But there is one important caveat. Whenever you launch an instance of Atlantis, it normally loads its settings from the Windows Registry. When you close an instance of Atlantis, it also normally saves all its current settings back to the Windows Registry, including any changes that you might have made to them. Now at times you might configure the settings of each running instance of Atlantis differently. In such cases, it matters which running instance is closed last.

Let's take an example. Let's suppose that you have two running instances of Atlantis.

Let's suppose that you have assigned new hot keys to some commands in one of these two instances of Atlantis. You close that instance in any available way (i.e. pressing Alt+F4, or clicking the cross button on the title bar of the main window). It automatically saves its current settings (including your new hot keys) to the Registry.

Now you close the second running instance of Atlantis. It will also automatically save its current settings to the Registry. These settings will naturally override the settings saved by the first instance of Atlantis. But these latter settings do not include the new hot keys specified in the first running instance of Atlantis. In other words, the settings saved by the instance of Atlantis that you closed first are lost.

So when you run multiple instances of Atlantis, and you close them all, it is important to remember that only the settings of the last closed instance of Atlantis are kept in the Registry. In other words, when you launch Atlantis again, it will run with the settings that were last saved.

In practical terms, it will always be preferable to make configuration changes only in the running instance of Atlantis that you intend to close last.

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