Modal(Lightbox/thickbox) displays are great to focus users' attention on to a particular task. There are some places where the user needs to be focussed on a particular portion of a web page without losing the context of the surrounding user interface elements. Inplace modal displays a overlay around the user interface element that needs focus.
Unfortunately, I don't have the application where I am using this idea published yet. But here is a demo of the concept with the jQuery script:
Adminjannel (Admin, Patternry) commented
Interesting, I hadn't seen this kind of behavior before. It could be useful for example to highlight form fields in error or guide the user step-by-step towards his goal.
Thanks for the idea! I look forward to seeing a real life example of this concept.