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 GideonTech Reviews
-- Building and Programming a PC Remote
-- 02.23.2004
-- By: snow_veil (guest)
-- Page: 1 2 3

Command Hierarchy

   You can always just go through and add commands one after the other, but once you start getting a large listing of commands I find it easier to organize them into folders. For example, My current hierarchy is laid out as such:

  • Windows Commands
    • Mouse Functions
  • Dscaler
    • Numpad
  • Zoom Player
    • File Browser
  • Winamp

   Each folder has its own corresponding commands inside, as well. I try to limit a single folder to about 10-15 commands or so. If I find that I have a group of commands that will work towards one common purpose, I use them in a sub-group. For example, under the "Windows Commands" category I have created a "Mouse functions" sub-group. This sub-group currently contains 9 commands to move the mouse cursor around the screen (vertically, horizontally, diagonally) and to click the mouse. I could also add double-click, right-click, etc. Because these commands generally serve one common purpose, it is easier to distinguish what they do by placing them together in sub-group.

   Another advantage to sub-groups is that they can be disabled all at once if necessary. Currently, I am not using my Mouse Functions sub-group. So instead of disabling all 9 commands individually, I can uncheck the "enable" checkbox when I have that group selected. This is very handy especially when you're experimenting or deciding what exactly you want your remote to accomplish.

Command Creation

   This section is what makes Girder so powerful. There is absolutely no way that I will be able to touch on every single option in this subject, but I will try to explain a few of the key points. The tabs you have available to choose from are the following: Window, O.S., Command, Girder, Mouse, Keyboard, Plugins. First I will cover one of the basics supported by some of these tabs, Targeting.

Targeting is a fairly simple concept to explain. Let's say that you want to skip to the next song in your playlist in Winamp. One way of doing this (though some say not the best) involves sending a keyboard shortcut to Winamp. The default key to press to do this is the "b" key. But what if Winamp isn't in the foreground? What if, right now, as I sit here writing this guide, I want to press the b key? Let's try it. b....B...BBBBBBBBB?!?! Hm... didn't work. There needs to be a way to send the b key to whichever window I want...that's where targeting comes into play.

   Upon sifting through the command options, you'll notice that "Target" is available for the window, command, keyboard, and plugins command types. The first thing we do when setting up a target is create the command as we would any other. For this example, use the Keyboard tab and type "b" (without the quotes) into the Sentence box. Now that the command is all programmed, open up Winamp (if it isn't already) and then click the "Target" button in girder. This window should pop up:

Girder Targeting Window
Click for 900Kb video showing process

   The two main areas that we will be focusing on here will be the Running Tasks/Windows area and the Settings area. If you'll notice, in the Running Tasks/Windows area I have selected the Filename "Winamp.exe". It also has multiple other ways that it reports itself to windows, so it lists them all side by side. Once I select the line that explains Winamp, the Settings window changes to show the various names that Winamp has.

   Normally, selecting the Name of the application (currently "47. The Pillows - Rever's ...") would be fine. Winamp, however changes the name it shows in the windows taskbar, so this is no good. One thing that always stays the same is the Executable name, Winamp.exe. So let's check only that option in the Settings area of the Target Selector window. Once we've gone ahead and selected what we want, go ahead and click OK or Apply to save the changes.

   Now that you've set up the target, try pressing your remote button now. It should send the "b" command to Winamp only, and successfully change tracks. If not, check that the options that you have set are all laid out correctly. Of course, sending only next track is fairly useless, so it's a good idea to send play, pause, stop, previous track, etc to Winamp to allow full control of the application. It's nice to walk into a room and with the push of a button, start playing music.

   Also in the Target Selector window you'll notice a "Drag me to target window" cross hair. Instead of choosing your application from the list, you may simply click and drag this to an open window to target it. I wouldn't say it's really easier, but sometimes it comes in handy.

   By now you should have a fairly strong grasp of how targeting works. By now, a basic understanding of each tab you can choose from when creating a command should be drilled into your brain. If not, they're fairly simple to understand when taking the time to read over them and experiment. You can get away with using just one type of command if you like, or you can play around and use a few different types. Or, if you're too lazy to create your own, you could always go to the Exported Groups page for Girder. Just download the .gml file from there, load it into your command hierarchy, and bind remote buttons to each command using the "Learn" button from before.

Conclusion

   Ok, so I think I've covered most of the basics to building and configuring a remote control for your PC. We've gone over building the receiver, setting up WinLIRC, and a few methods of creating commands with Girder. If you like, I'll offer up my current gml file for you to download. Either use parts of it if you have the programs installed, or look around in it to get ideas. Oh, and to give credit where credit is due, my Winamp group is an altered exported gml file created by Mike Hineline. His email is available on the Exported Groups page on Girder's website.

Again, if you have a simple question you'd like to ask, try searching the web or the Girder forums specifically if it is Girder related.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the thread in the GT Forums linked below.  Anyway, I hope you now understand how to set up a PC remote, and enjoy being even more lazy than before.

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