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Programming With the Mac OS 8.5 Window Manager
Windows are often placed on the display screen so that one window appears to be behind another. This visual overlapping gives the user an impression of depth. A floating window is so-named because its front-to-back display order (that is, its z-order placement relative to other windows on the screen) makes it appear to float in front of document windows. In Figure 1-1 , the "Clipboard" window appears to float in front of the active and inactive document windows.
Figure 1-1 Floating windows
Because earlier versions of the Window Manager defined only the look of floating windows, not their floating behavior, some applications contain code that implements a floating effect for tool palettes and other such windows. However, your application can now use the Window Manager to automatically sort floating and non-floating windows into separately z-ordered groups, thereby enforcing the proper front-to-back display order.