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Extra Tools
Tutorials
by Thomas Radeke, 2006-04-16 16:26:31

Basic Skinning
by Thomas Radeke, 2006-04-16 16:29:00

This simple tutorial shows how to skin the main panel of XMPlay, but gives you the information necessary for a complete skin. For this you will need a paint program that allows you to assign the palette, such as Paint Shop Pro (any edition probably - I used an old 16-bit 3.11 version even).

Other suggestions of graphics applications that can do this would be nice, as well as any steps which you think should be emphazised.

  1. Firstly we open up panel_main.bmp, this is the graphic that shows what we see.

  2. You can make this look however you like, there are however some things that arn't possible.

    • The horizontal bars used for volume control, position indicator etc must be a flat horizontal line as shown in the default skin. (E.g. They cannot be vertical.)

  3. With the main panel I like to draw the entire layout of the skin, including the playlist and how the preferences panel fits into it. The below image shows how the playlist is locked into place with a small tab with an arrow indicating where the preferences are.

    Main Panel Full Layout Main Panel Only

    Once I decide thats the look I want I save the image for later (so for use when making the playlist and preference panels for example). And I delete all the bits thats arn't directly in the main panel image, while leaving gaps for the playlist and buttons.

    We now save this back as panel_main.bmp and are now ready to make the mask to mark the position of buttons etc.

  4. Now we mark out the areas of the bitmap where the buttons, sliders and displays are. You may find this easier to cut out the areas on the panel_main.bmp and delete the rest, so the buttons are lined up correctly.

    Main Panel Mask Layout

    This can be just done in paint and saved as mask_main.bmp.

  5. After opening it in Paint Shop Pro, we first reduce the number of colours in the image to 256, via the menu as shown below and press Ok to continue.

    PSP 256 Colour Feature

  6. Now double click on the area indicated below to go into the color index, the index for each colour relates to the index in the text file accompanying the skinning kit.

    PSP Palette

    So for example the title display of the main panel has an index of 2, so the area where the title is to be displayed will be colour with this indexed colour as shown in the picture. Do this for each area of the mask to indicate all the positions of the buttons, displays and sliders. Save the image back as mask_main.bmp.

  7. Before this skin would be complete there must also be changes to the slider_horiz.bmp and button_pause.bmp to fit in with the new interface. Like so...

    Horizontal Slider Horizontal Slider

  8. With that the main panel of XMPlay is now skinned, you can start XMPlay to see your handywork in action, change colours, sizes, types of fonts for the displays and lighting in the skinconfig.txt and ofcourse do the same for all the other panels. The following images are just an example of the playlist which would fit into this design.

    Playlist Panel Layout Playlist Panel Mask Playlist Scroller

    Tip: If you are working on the mini-mode skin and use the "button_pause.bmp" instead of "button_pause_mini.bmp", the pause button mask *must* be the same size on both the main, and mini-mode's otherwise it will look incorrect.

Running XMPlay under Linux
by Thomas Radeke, 2007-01-31 23:00:00

What are we trying to do here?

The goal of this tutorial is to get XMPlay up and running using WINE under Linux. I'm using Ubuntu 6.10 "Edgy Eft" and WINE 0.9.30 for now and had some success getting XMPlay to play music.

If you know any tweaks that make XMPlay run more stable under WINE, let me know!

What you will need

  • Admin rights
  • WINE
  • a copy of XMPlay
  • basic knowledge on terminal usage

Getting started

Get your music from your Windows hard disk - mount a NTFS drive

If you came from WinXP, you probably have your music on a NTFS-formatted HD. Some Linux distros like Knoppix mount those automatically - Ubuntu doesn't, so you have to help yourself.

Open a terminal and type

fdisk -l

to find your Windows partition. It will probably be something like /dev/hda1.
Now you will need to create a directory where your NTFS partition will be mounted, that is at which Linux directory you will be able to access the NTFS directory structure. To create such a directory, type

sudo mkdir /mnt/c

Then mount your NTFS partition in read-only mode to the directory you just created, like so:

sudo mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/c/ -t ntfs -o nls=utf8,umask=0222

Now, you can access your files on your NTFS Windows partition via your Linux file manager (e.g. Nautilus, Konqueror, etc.) by navigating to /mnt/c.

Automatic mounting

You can also let Ubuntu do the mounting automatically at startup - open another terminal and type:

sudo nano /etc/fstab

This will open your file system table ("fstab") and allow you to edit drive associations. Add the following line:

/dev/hda1 /mnt/c ntfs nls=utf8,umask=0222 0 0

Then press Ctrl+O to save (press Enter on the filename), Ctrl+X to quit, then reboot.

More instructions on mounting/unmounting different file systems, see the Ubuntu Guide: How to mount...

Configuring WINE

First you will need to get and install WINE. Instructions on how to do so can be found on the WINE HQ website. There are quite many different distributions and ways to install the WINE packages with them, so I will not try to explain the process here.

After you got WINE installed, you need to configure it properly.
Open a terminal and type

winecfg

to get into the WINE configuration dialog. At the "drives" tab you can assign your mounted NTFS partition to a drive letter - this way you will be able to access your music from within XMPlay easier.

Be sure to go to the "Audio" tab and check at least one device/driver, or you will have no sound!

After you're done configuring, close winecfg.

Running XMPlay

If you have configured everything, you can run XMPlay by typing

wine "/mnt/c/Program Files/XMPlay/xmplay.exe"

If the main window shows up, check the output devices in the Options & Stuff dialog. If you see a device like "dmix:0", select it. If you don't see any normal output device, try configuring WINE to use another audio driver.

If you're running XMPlay directly from a NTFS drive and don't have NTFS-3G (write support!) installed, be sure to check the "Store per-user config/etc" option on the Miscellaneous tab, or XMPlay won't save any configuration changes.

If XMPlay crashes during startup, try using a "virgin" copy of XMPlay with no additional plugins.

Adding a shortcut to your desktop

If you want to run XMPlay from your desktop without having to type the "sudo wine..." command every time, right-click on your desktop and chose "Create new launcher...". Chose "Terminal Application", enter "XMPlay" as name and use the whole "sudo wine ..." line from above as command. As icon, you can use this image, which I once created for dock-like applications.

Skinning Tips & Tricks
by Thomas Radeke, 2006-04-16 16:29:00

This page provides some insight into some common tricks that you will see used in many XMPlay skins, either making them more useful or just look neat.

If you have a nice idea that you think would be great for this page send it to XMPlay Support.

Tip: If its nicely written out it will get on here a whole lot faster.

Immovable Panels

Silk

In this example we'll lock the playlist panel in place so as to make it a permanent feature of the main panel.

  1. Firstly we open up panel_main.bmp, and note down the width of it.

    Your playlist panel should be the same width as the main panel.
    Although it doesn't have to be, it makes this much easier.

  2. Now open your skinconfig.txt and edit the pos_right setting.

    This setting has two numbers, the first must be the same as the width of your main panel and the second number should be 0.

    E.g. pos_right = 100 0

    Tip: Locking the left panel, or "options panel", is done the same way.

  3. Save your changes to the skinconfig.txt and thats it.

    Tip: When locking panels like this its a good idea to use the 255 mask on the playlist panel.

    This makes it an extension of the main panel for moving XMPlay via the mouse.

Reversed Panels

Section

In this example we'll make it so the left panel, or "options panel", slides out of the right side of XMPlay instead of the left.

  1. Firstly we open up panel_main.bmp, and note down the width of it.

    Your options panel should be at least double the width of the main panel if not more.

  2. Now open your skinconfig.txt and edit the pos_right setting.

    This setting has two numbers, the first must be the same as the width of your main panel. The second number shows how many pixels the panel will slide out, so change this as required (May take some trial and error).

    E.g. pos_right = 100 50

    Tip: Reversing the playlist panel is done the same way.

  3. Save your changes to the skinconfig.txt and that's it.

Button States (MMD3)

MMD3

This is a particularly hard trick to use, but looks great if you can pull it off.

Best way to show what it is, if for you to download the MMD3 skin and try it out. You'll notice when you enable or disable/enable any of the main panels options, although only the button itself is highlighted many areas are effected by the change.

Here we'll try to explain how that works.

  1. Before you do anything there is one catch to using this. The button and the area it changes cannot overlap any other object mask area.

  2. Here we'll show excerpts from 4 Bitmaps that come together to create this effect.

    This is the button_loop.bmp

    Loop button

    As you can see it is alot bigger than a normal button bmp as you also need to have the graphics for all the other areas you will change.

    This is the mask_main.bmp

    mask_main.bmp

    Here you can see the area we will click on, also there are two pixels off to the right marking out a rectangle to match the button_loop.bmp size. This will cause this whole area to change with the states of the button.

    This is the panel_main.bmp

    panel_main.bmp

    This is pretty normal, the only difference is the two transparent pixels to match those in the mask. This is to stop them from highlighting with the normal button area.

    But does'nt that mean there is two transparant pixels in the middle of the skin?!

    Yes, thats why the playlist panel is fixed in place underneath to fill in the blanks.

    Like so: panel_list.bmp

    panel_list.bmp

    And so you can see the playlist panel carries duplicate graphics to cover this up.

    Tip: It's a good idea to have a 5 pixel buffer around the blank spot in the playlist panel, this stops the hole showing when the player is being moved.

    And thats all there is to it, unfortunately there is no sample bitmaps for this at the moment.