Driver Station required to be visible?

Our team has a custom dashboard we would like to use, and it takes up the entire screen. Does the original FRC Driver Station have to be the active/visible window on the laptop, or can it be running behind the custom dashboard?

I don’t think there’s any rule that says the driver station software must be visible while operating the robot. I’d suggest that if you don’t have it always visible, you at least make it easy to get to because it has a lot of useful information that you may need to reference in the middle of a match to figure out why your robot isn’t working properly. It’s also probably the first place FTAs will want to look when you’re having connection issues, so don’t make your custom dashboard always front so that it covers part of the driver station that may be important to the FTAs,

See R97.

The OPERATOR CONSOLE, the set of COMPONENTS and MECHANISMS used by the
DRIVERS and/or HUMAN PLAYER to relay commands to the ROBOT, must include a graphic
display to present the Driver Station diagnostic information. It must be positioned within the
OPERATOR CONSOLE so that the screen display can be clearly seen during Inspection and in a
MATCH.

In my mind, this means the DS application should be visible.

One could argue that this means you need to be able to see the driver station software whenever you want, at any time during inspection or matches, but you don’t need to see it at every time during inspection and matches. If you’re worried, Q&A is the only place to get official opinions on the rules.

The application will run if it’s not the active window. I think R97 just requires the bottom portion with CPU usage, battery voltage, joystick/code/comms indicators, etc to be visible during Inspection and MATCHes. Note that while the DS will run and control the robot while under another window, pressing the spacebar will affect the currently active window, and therefore will not E-stop the robot.(I think; correct me if I’m wrong on this.) This isn’t a problem on the official field, as you can use the dedicated E-stop button, but outside of the field make sure you can quickly switch active windows should you need to disable your robot.

Pretty much this. The point is that when something goes wrong with your robot on the field, the FTA or CSA will want to see the default driver station diagnostics that are on the bottom 1/4 or so of the screen. And possibly flip to some of the other diagnostic tabs as well.

Honestly, you should want to see those things all the time too. Practice is going to be pretty painful if you have to flip programs every time you need to enable teleop or disable the robot or whatever.