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README.md

Beanbar

Beanbar is a status bar application based on web technologies running WebKitGTK.

Installation

To build Beanbar and install it to /usr/local/bin, just run make && sudo make install.

Dependencies:

  • GTK 3 (on X11; I haven't looked into making Beanbar work on Wayland yet)
  • WebKitGTK
  • libdbus
  • libpulse

Goals

  • I want a status bar which reacts instantly to changes in my system. The instant NetworkManager starts trying to connect to a network, it should show up with a loading icon, and that loading icon should disappear the instant the network is actually connected. The second a new audio device is connected, a new volume indicator for that device should show up, and changes in volume should be reflected the moment they happen. Whenever a new monitor is connected, a new bar window should immediately show up on that monitor, and that window should immdiately go away when the monitor goes away.
  • I want a hackable status bar, where changing anything is just a small config change, where a custom module is a few lines of javascript and changing the existing look of a module completely is just a few lines of CSS, without having to recompile the bar.
  • I want an interactive bar, which doesn't just reflect the state of the system, but also makes it possible to change the system, launch applications, etc. This is especially nice because my laptop is a 2-in-1 laptop with a touch screen, and even though I'm using i3wm, I want to be able to do things when in laptop mode.

Beanbar currently does a pretty good job of the first two points, but it's not quite as interactive as I would want it to be yet.

A web browser in my status bar? Really?

Well, Benabar probably isn't for people who's extremely concerned about bloat, and it does use more memory than most other status bars. However, using web technologies is probably the easiest and arguably best way to achieve the hackability goal.

I haven't used a computer with less than 16GB of RAM for quite a while, so I'm not exactly starved for RAM.

Configuration

The config file defaults to $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/beanbar/beanbar.js (or ~/.config/beanbar/beanbar.js). For an example config file, see example-conf.js.

The directory which the config file is in cts as a web root, where additional assets can be loaded from.

The current list of built-in modules is:

  • h(Group, null, ...): Group elements together.
  • h(Label, { text }): Just arbitrary text.
  • h(Launcher, { cmd, text }): A launcher, which runs cmd when clicked.
  • h(Drawer, { timeout }, ...): A drawer which expands to display its children when clicked.
  • h(Audio): Show the currently connected audio devices.
  • h(Disk, { mount }): Show the free space in mount.
  • h(Battery, { low }): Show the battery level.
  • h(Network): Show the connected network connections.
  • h(Memory): Show the percentage of free memory.
  • h(Processor): Show the CPU usage.
  • h(Time, { func }): Show the current time.
  • h(I3Workspaces, { scroll }): Show workspaces from i3wm. If scroll is true, scrolling on the bar will change workspace.

Here's a tiny example config file. It would put an I3Workspaces module on the left, a Time module in the middle, and a Disk and Network module grouped up to the right.

init(
	h(I3Workspaces, { scroll: true }),
	h(Time),
	h(Group, null,
		h(Disk, { mount: "/" }),
		h(Network)
	),
);

The main functions you will use are:

init(...modules)

This function should generally come last, as it depends on state set by the config and css functions.

init is the most important function; it's where you configure what modules to use. Its arguments are the return value of the h function, which you can read about in Preact's documentation.

config(obj)

The config function sets general config options. Currently, the only option is updateTime, which is the number of milliseconds between updating polling modules such as the disk and battery modules.

css(string)

The main use cases are:

  • Applying a pre-defined theme. Currently, the only built-in alternate theme is in the global variable called THEME_DARK, so css(THEME_DARK); will enable a dark theme.
  • Overwriting CSS variables. Look at style.css to see which variables can be overwritten.
  • Just generally hacking the look of the bar. If you're doing this, here's a couple of things you should know:
    • Use multi-line template literals for a less annoying syntax.
    • The web inspector should come in useful (right click on the bar, click "inspect element").
    • A module can be targeted with the module.<module-name> selector, and a widget with widget.<widget-name>.

await include(src)

Include another javascript source file. The include function returns a promise, but the main config file is executed in an async function context, it can await the promise from the top level.

Known bugs/issues

  • Modules like i3workspaces and audio should show information with the same order/color across multiple bars on multiple monitors.
  • Occasionally, especially when the CPU is under heavy load, the bar doesn't position itself correctly. Why?
  • Some options such as the bar's height/location and what monitor it appears on, are needed before any javascript is loaded, and can therefore only be provided on the command line, not through the config javascript file.

Making your own module

You should read through a couple of the built-in modules to get a feel for how modules work.

The ModComponent class

Each module is a sub-class of the ModComponent class, which is a sub-class of the main Preact Component class. You should read up on how Preact components work: https://preactjs.com/guide/api-reference

While you're free to add a build step and use a transpiler to get the pretty JSX syntax, I personally find that it's way more trouble than it's worth for this use case. I would probably suggest just sticking to the h function.

Here's what the ModComponent class adds on top of the default Preact Component class:

  • Your render function should return this.el(props, ...children) instead of h(tag, props, ...children). Using the el function ensures you're following the convention; each module is a module tag with the JavaScript class name as the CSS class name.
  • If you implement the css() function, you can return a CSS string which will be added to the document the first time your class is instantiated.
  • If you call the consistentWidth() method from the componentDidUpdate() method, the module will try to have a somewhat consistent width. This is useful for components which would otherwise jump between different widths a lot, such as the built-in Processor module.

The onUpdate function

onUpdate(cb) is a function which just takes a callback function, and calls it whenever the component should update. How frequently it's called is determined by the updateTime config option.

The IPCProc class

new IPCProc(head, body, cb) lets you spawn a process which can get information about, or make modifications to, the system. With this class, you can spawn a child process, write to its stdin, and get notified whenever it writes to its stdout.

It's conventional for scripts to wait until they receive a line from stdin, then print a line to stdout.

The head parameter is a shell one-liner which runs your script, body is the content of your script, and cb is a function which gets called when the child process prints a line. Note that body is massaged to remove extra indentation, meaning Python works fine.

Most of the time, you want to use the predefined variables IPC_EXEC_SH and IPC_EXEC_PYTHON, and not write your own head command, but it's pretty simple; the C part of Beanbar will essentially run sh -c "$head", with the TMPFILE environment variable set to a path which contains body. IPC_EXEC_SH is, at the time of writing, literally just 'sh "$TMPFILE"'.

Here's an example which will print "Hello <incrementing number>" every now and then:

let proc = new IPCProc(IPC_EXEC_SH, `
	i=0
	while read; do
		echo "$i"
		i=$(($i + 1))
	done
	`, msg => console.log(msg));

// proc.send(line) sends a line to the process' stdin,
// and 'line' defaults to an empty line
onUpdate(() => proc.send());

IPCProc's body parameter can be omitted, in which case no temp file will be created. This is useful if the process is just a shell one-liner, or maybe a program which is bade for the purpose of providing data to Beanbar, such as the beanbar-stats program.

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