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new keynav version available (20070903)

Hop on over to the keynav project page and download the new version.

The changelist from the previous announced release is as follows:

  - Drag is now working. Problem was KeyEvent.state contains masks such as
    | Button1Mask which is set when mouse button 1 is held, so keybindings stopped
    | working. Ignoring Button[1-5]Mask in this value fixes the problem.
  - Drag takes two optional arguments: a button followed by a keysequence to fire.
    | 'drag 1 alt' will do an alt+leftclick drag.
    | 'drag 2' will do a middleclick drag.
  - sync to [email protected]
  - Fix a bug in parse_mods and parse_keysym where it was destructively changing the string.
  - Fix a bug where I was using the loop iterator 'i' inside another for loop. Oops.
  - Add to defaults my nethack-vi-style diagonal keybindings

new xdotool version available (20070903)

Hop on over to the xdotool project page and download the new version.

The changelist from the previous announced release is as follows:

  * Add xdo_mousemove_relative for relative mouse movements
  * Add This is a script library to help with features xdo does not
    explicitly implement, such as querying window attributes, or fetching the
    root window id. An example which uses this is: examples/

new keynav version available (20070814)

Hop on over to the keynav project page and download the new version.

The changelist from the previous announced release is as follows:

  - Arguments for {move,cut}_{up,left,down,right} in form of percentage values.
    Default for cut is 0.5 (cut the window in half)
    Default for move is 1.0 (move the full width/height of the window)
  - sync to xdotool-20070812

new xdotool version available (20070812)

Hop on over to the xdotool project page and download the new version.

The changelist from the previous announced release is as follows:

  * Magnus Boman contributed keysequence_{up,down} adding new commands to
    xdotool: keyup and keydown. These take the same arguments as 'key' but only
    send keyup or keydown events.
  * Lee Pumphret contributed getwindowfocus, which tells you the window id of the window
    currently holding focus.
  * Removed '' because the original Makefile now knows
    how to build for both cases: with and without pkg-config.

  * Compiles without warnings when using gcc -Wall now
  * Fixed false error reporting due to some functions missing return statements

new xdotool version available (20070713)

Hop on over to the xdotool project page and download the new version.

The changelist from the previous announced release is as follows:

  * Add flag SIZE_USEHINTS to xdo_window_setsize
  * Add flag --usehints to xdotool windowsize

  Increments are used often in terminals that say "my font is 5 by 7 pixels, so
  resize by that increment". So, you can use this to set a terminal to be 80x24
  characters instead of pixels. Verified by resizing xterm and gnome-terminal.

  Added new search options to 'xdotool search'
    --onlyvisible shows only visible windows in the results
    --title causes only the window title to be matched
    --name causes the window name to be matched
    --class causes the window class to be matched

  For information on names and classes, check out the xprop tool.
    For example, for an xterm you will see this in the xprop output:
    WM_CLASS(STRING) = "xterm", "XTerm"
  "xterm" is the name, "XTerm" is the class. Don't ask me what the differences
  are supposed to be. ;)

xdotool project page posted

I've gotten enough positive feedback about xdotool to convince me to put up a real project page for it. You can view it here at /projects/xdotool

xdo updates: window operations and searching

Today's efforts are summarized best by:
% ./xdotool search "Mozilla Firefox"
% xwininfo -id 31457484 | egrep 'Width|Height' | paste - -
  Width: 1278     Height: 1008
% ./xdotool windowsize `./xdotool search "Mozilla Firefox"` 500 500
% xwininfo -id 31457484 | egrep 'Width|Height' | paste - -
  Width: 500      Height: 500
This new 'search' command will walk the list of windows in X and basically output any windows with a matching title, name, or class. In this case, I have 1 "browser" window open under firefox that has "Mozilla Firefox" in the title. So I then resize it to 500x500, trivially.

Longer summary of today is that I added 4 new functions to xdotool:

  • windowsize <windowid> <width> <height>
  • windowfocus <windowid>
  • windowmove <windowid> <x> <y>
  • search <regexp>
Thanks to valgrind, I also fixed the crashes in Linux. Was due to an off-by-one bug. Sweet tool: valgrind.

Turns out XTEST works as I'd expect, and this example will do what you think, and switch to the 2nd console (assuming you're running one).

% ./xdotool key "ctrl+alt+F2"

Goal: Focus the first window found that is a local xterm (ie; not ssh'd anywhere). My xterms have title with 'host(pwd) - activity' in them. So if my local host is 'snack' I can do:

# Look for xterms starting with 'snack(' and focus the first one
./xdotool search '^snack\(' | head -1 | xargs ./xdotool windowfocus
And magically one of the xterms running a shell locally is focused. I can see this being pretty useful.

Today's code: navmacro-20070622.tar.gz.

xdo "beta" release

I've been working furiously on xdo the past few days. Good times :)

The result so far is as follows:

  • xdo is now a library, so you can simply call xdo_click(...) and it will handle all the hard stuff for you for the case that you want to use this in your own code.
  • xdotool is the commandline interface to the xdo api.
  • navmacro (bad name) is a very small gtk launcher. Basically it's an input box that runs the contents when you hit enter
I include a sample script 'ffsp' which is short for 'firefox searchbar paste'. It works on my system, but obviously on other systems you'll need to tweak it. The basics are there.

So right now, I can do this:

  1. Select a piece of text in an xterm
  2. Activate navmacro and type 'ffsp' and hit enter
  3. Enjoy the fact that firefox has been told to search for the contents of my clipboard
'ffsp' is located in my $HOME/bin/ so I execute it like any other shell script or program.

Interested in the code? Download navmacro-20070620.tar.gz.

Note: navmacro works on my ubuntu and freebsd systems just fine. However, xdotool crashes at the end when I do free(xdo->charcodes) only on my Ubuntu system. Uncertain why, I'm way too tired to debug.

xdo - do (keyboard or mouse) things in X

Update: xdotool is now a full project, see this page. It supports much more than just mouse and keyboard things.

Yesterday, I talked about macros. I spent some time coding today and I now have a tool that will let you execute raw keyboard and mouse input into X using the XTEST extension.

The primary example I used was focusing firefox's URL bar without the mouse. The sequence was this: Switch to Desktop 2 (I press Alt+2), focus firefox's URL bar (using control+l) and clear it.

The result is a simple tool I'm tentatively calling 'xdo'. You can download the source here. Compile instructions are at the top of the file.

The top of xdo.c details the implemented commands, so let's cut to an example:

% echo 'key alt+2; sleep 1; key ctrl+l; key BackSpace' | ./xdo
It does exactly what you think. The 'sleep' command has values in milliseconds, and is only necessary to slow down so that events can propgate fast enough (window focus changes, etc).

Another reasonable example would be to say "firefox, open a new tab and load the URL in my clipboard":

# My clipboard contains a valid url, say, ""
(echo "key alt+2; sleep 1; key ctrl+l; key BackSpace;"
 echo "move 55 55; sleep 1; click 2; key Return") | ./xdo
Seems complex, but look at what's really happening: Go to desktop 2, focus urlbar, hit backspace (clearing it), move the mouse cursor to 55,55 (a point inside the urlbar for me), hit middle mouse button to paste.

Change "ctrl+l" to ctrl+k (unix firefox) to focus the "Search" box instead, and change the 'move' command to cursor over the search box to paste instead, and suddenly you can bind a simple keystroke to search for whatever is in your X clipboard. Useful.

One of the neater features is that you can 'type' text:

% echo 'type echo hello there; key Return' | ./xdo
echo hello there
% echo hello there
hello there

Key macro navigation

Today was a learning day. A few months ago, I released keynav, a tool to make large-area mouse navigation very quick. However, I found myself using keynav to do the same things over and over again. Select certain windows, clicking on certain UI widgets, etc; things that are annoying to do repeatedly.

What if we had a way to describe input actions? What if you could say "Focus the firefox URL bar" with a simple keystroke, without having firefox focused? This premise is fairly simple - Focus firefox, then "click" on a certain part of the window. The URL bar's location is pretty reliable (a few pixels from the top).

If you're like me, firefox is on another virtual desktop. What if firefox isn't shown right now because you're on "Desktop 1" and firefox lives on "Desktop 2"? Well we can find out if it's hidden, then send the keystrokes (via XTEST) to switch to "Desktop 2" and then do whatever we would normally do to focus on Firefox's URL bar. The basic pseudocode of the script would look like:

if firefox is not shown:
  go to desktop 2 ("fake send alt+2")

focus firefox (via fake click?)
fake send "Control+L" (Firefox's shortcut for focusing the urlbar)
Seems pretty simple. "Fake" above refers to events sent using the XTest, an extension to X11 (Xorg/XFree86) that lets you send keystrokes and mouse events as if they had been typed.

So, tonight I started work on a project that would let you script actions. Generally, I'm aiming at scripting UI interaction to make common tasks such as "take me to firefox" simpler.

I revisited some man pages for Xlib I hadn't seen in many months, and now I can traverse the list of all open windows in X and show their status. Here's what this tool outputs; notice how I can tell if the window is visible ("shown" by the window manager):

+ 8388621 ([email protected],324) [Visible]
  "xterm" "XTerm" 
+ 44040205 ([email protected],324) [Hidden]
  snack(~) % @ snack
  "xterm" "XTerm" 
+ 29360192 ([email protected],1008) [Hidden]
  HMUG: man XWindowAttributes (3) - Mozilla Firefox
  "firefox-bin" "Firefox-bin"

The other piece of learning I did tonight was to learn GTK2. Enough fiddling around and I was able to get a input field that pops up over everything and is as wide as the screen to input your macros in. GTK's not that bad. Its API design is fairly intuitive and I didn't have much trouble getting things working. I even figured out how to ask GTK what it's X window ID is. Most of this knowledge comes from the GDK X Windows Interaction documentation.

#include <gtk/gtk.h>
#include <gdk/gdkx.h>

static void activate(GtkWidget *widget, gpointer data) {
  // widget->window is the GdkWindow containing this widget.
  g_print("Display handle: %x\n", GDK_WINDOW_XDISPLAY(widget->window));
  g_print("Window id: %d\n", GDK_WINDOW_XID(widget->window));

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
  GtkWidget *window;

  gtk_init (&argc, &argv);
  window = gtk_window_new (GTK_WINDOW_TOPLEVEL);

  g_signal_connect(G_OBJECT(window), "realize",
                   G_CALLBACK(activate), NULL);

  return 0;
Compiled with: gcc `pkg-config --cflags --libs x11` test.c

The little bit of GTK I wrote tonight can be found here. It's not much, but it does example how to use GTK and Xlib at the same time, on the same windows.

Oops... it's getting light outside. Naptime ;)