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 dzen, (c) 2007-2010 by Robert Manea

Dzen is a general purpose messaging, notification and menuing program for X11.
It was designed to be fast, tiny and scriptable in any language.


    * Small, fast, very tiny set of dependencies (Xlib only by default)
    * Scriptable in any language
    * Sophisticated formating language - including colours, icons, graphics
    * Versatile - display all sorts of information
    * Interactive - user defined mouse and keyboard actions
    * Optional XFT support
    * Optional XINERAMA support

In order to build dzen you need the Xlib header files.

Edit to match your local setup (dzen is installed into
the /usr/local namespace by default).

Afterwards enter the following command to build and install dzen (if
necessary as root):

    make clean install

Optionally if you want to use dzen's gadgets:

    cd gadgets
    make clean install

Note:       By default dzen will not be compiled with Xinerama and XPM support.
            Uncomment the respective lines in to change this.

Feature requests, patches or anything else related to dzen can be send
to: rob dot manea at gmail dot com

Running dzen
dzen accepts a couple of options:

    -fg     foreground color
    -bg     background color
    -fn     font 
    -ta     alignement of title window content 
            l(eft), c(center), r(ight)
    -tw     title window width
    -sa     alignment of slave window, see "-ta"
    -l      lines, see (1)
    -e      events and actions, see (2)
    -m      menu mode, see (3)
    -u      update contents of title and 
            slave window simultaneously, see (4)
    -p      persist EOF (optional timeout in seconds)
    -x      x position
    -y      y position
    -h      line height (default: fontheight + 2 pixels)
    -w      width
    -xs     number of Xinerama screen
    -v      version information

    see (5) for the in-text formating language.

X resources

Dzen is able to read font and color setting from X resources.
As an example you can add following lines to ~/.Xresources

dzen2.font:       -*-fixed-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
dzen2.foreground: #22EE11
dzen2.background: black

Window layout

Dzen's window layout is as follows:

    |        Title window, single line         |
    |                                          |
    |               scrollable                 |
    |              Slave window                |
    |             multiple lines               |
    |     lines to display simultaneously      |
    |           controlled with the            |
    |              '-l' option                 |
    |                                          |
    |                                          |

The first line you provide to dzen always goes to the title window, 
all other consecutive lines will be drawn to the slave window unless
you explicitly overide this with the (5) In-text formating language
command ^tw().


Q1:  I don't want a slave window, what to do?

A1:  Do not provide the '-l' option, all lines will be displayed
     in the title window, this is the default behaviour.

Q2:  I used the '-l' option but no slave window appears.

A2:  With the default event/action handling the slave window will
     only be displayed if you hoover with the mouse over the title
     window. See "(2) Events and actions" if you'd like to change

Q3:  If I echo some text or cat a file dzen closes itself imediatelly.

A3:  There are 2 different approaches dzen uses to terminate itself, 
     see next section "Termination".

Q4:  Ok, the title and slave thing works, can I update the
     contents of both windows at the same time?

A4:  Sure, see "(4) Simultaneous updates" or use the in-text 
     command "^tw()" to explicitly draw to the title windwow.
     See section (5) for further details

Q5:  Can i chnage color of my input at runtime?

A5:  Yes, you can change both background and foreground colors and 
     much more See "(5) In-Text formating language"

Q6:  Can I use dzen as a menu?

A6:  Yes, both vertical and horizontal menus are supported. 
     See "(3) Menu" for further details.

dzen uses two different approaches to terminate itself:

    * Timed termination: if EOF is received -> terminate
        - unless the '-p' option is set
            · '-p' without argument persist forever
            · '-p' with argument n  persist for n seconds

    * Interactive termination: if mouse button3 is clicked -> terminate
        - this is the default behaviour, see (2)
        - in some modes the Escape key terminates too, see (2)

Return values:
0               -   dzen received EOF
1               -   some error occured, inspect the error message
user defined    -   set with 'exit:retval' action, see (2)

(1) Option "-l": Slave window

Enables support for displaying multiple lines. The parameter to "-l"
specifies the number of lines to be displayed.

These lines of input are held in the slave window which becomes active as soon
as the pointer enters the title (default action) window.

If the mouse leaves the slave window it will be hidden unless it is set
sticky by clicking with Button2 into it (default action).

Button4 and Button5 (mouse wheel) will scroll the slave window up
and down if the content exceeds the window height (default action).

(2) Option '-e': Events and actions

dzen allows the user to associate actions to events.

The command line syntax is as follows:
-e 'event1=action1:option1:...option<n>,...,action<m>;...;event<l>'

Every event can take any number of actions and every action can take any number
of options. (By default limited to 64 each, easily changable in action.h)

An example:
    -e 'button1=exec:xterm:firefox;entertitle=uncollapse,unhide;button3=exit'


    on Button1 event (Button1 press on the mouse) execute xterm and
    Note: xterm and firefox are options to the exec action

    on entertitle (mouse pointer enters the title window) uncollapse
    slave window and unhide the title window

    on button3 event exit dzen

Supported events:

    onstart             Perform actions right after startup
    onexit              Perform actions just before exiting
    onnewinput          Perform actions if there is new input for the slave window
    button1             Mouse button1 released 
    button2             Mouse button2 released
    button3             Mouse button3 released
    button4             Mouse button4 released (usually scrollwheel)
    button5             Mouse button5 released (usually scrollwheel)
    button6             Mouse button6 released
    button7             Mouse button7 released
    entertitle          Mouse enters the title window
    leavetitle          Mouse leaves the title window
    enterslave          Mouse enters the slave window
    leaveslave          Mouse leaves the slave window
    sigusr1             SIGUSR1 received 
    sigusr2             SIGUSR2 received
    key_KEYNAME         Keyboard events (*)

    (*) Keyboard events:

    Every key can be bound to an action (see below). The format is:
    key_KEYNAME where KEYNAME is the name of the key as defined in
    keysymdef.h (usually: /usr/include/X11/keysymdef.h).  The part 
    after 'XK_' in keysymdef.h must be used for KEYNAME.

Supported actions:

    exec:command1:..:n  execute all given options
    menuexec            executes selected menu entry
    exit:retval         exit dzen and return 'retval'
    print:str1:...:n    write all given options to STDOUT
    menuprint           write selected menu entry to STDOUT
    collapse            collapse (roll-up) slave window
    uncollapse          uncollapse (roll-down) slave window
    togglecollapse      toggle collapsed state
    stick               stick slave window
    unstick             unstick slave window
    togglestick         toggle sticky state
    hide                hide title window
    unhide              unhide title window
    togglehide          toggle hide state
    raise               raise window to view (above all others)
    lower               lower window (behind all others)
    scrollhome          show head of input
    scrollend           show tail of input
    scrollup:n          scroll slave window n lines up   (default n=1)
    scrolldown:n        scroll slave window n lines down (default n=1)
    grabkeys            enable keyboard support
    ungrabkeys          disable keyboard support
    grabmouse           enable mouse support 
                        only needed with specific windowmanagers, such as fluxbox
    ungrabmouse         release mouse
                        only needed with specific windowmanagers, such as fluxbox

Note:   If no events/actions are specified dzen defaults to:

        Title only mode:

        -e 'button3=exit:13'

        Multiple lines and vertical menu mode:

        -e 'entertitle=uncollapse,grabkeys;

        Horizontal menu mode:

        -e 'enterslave=grabkeys;leaveslave=ungrabkeys;

        If you define any events/actions, there is no default behaviour,
        i.e. you will have to specify _all_ events/actions you want to

(3) Option '-m', Menu

Dzen provides two menu modes, vertical and horizontal menus. You can
access these modes by adding 'v'(ertical) or 'h'(horizontal) to the 
'-m' option. If nothing is specified dzen defaults to vertical menus.

Vertical menu, both invocations are equivalent:
    dzen2 -p -l 4 -m < file
    dzen2 -p -l 4 -m v < file

Horizontal menu:
    dzen2 -p -l 4 -m h < file

All actions beginning with "menu" work on the selected menu entry.

Note:   Menu mode only makes sense if '-l <n>' is specified!

        Horizontal menus have no title window, so all actions
        affecting the title window will be silently discarded
        in this mode.

(4) Option '-u', Simultaneous updates


This option provides facilities to update the title and slave window at
the same time.

The way it works is best described by an example:


  We want to display an updating clock in the title and some log
  output in the slave window.


  while true; do
        date                # output goes to the title window
        dmesg | tail -n 10  # output goes to the slave window
        sleep 1
  done | dzen2 -l 10 -u

For this to work correctly it is essential to provide exactly the number
of lines to the slave window as defined by the parameter to '-l'.

(5) In-text formating & control language:

This feature allows to dynamically (at runtime) format the text dzen
displays and control its behaviour.

Currently the following commands are supported:

Note:  Doubling the '^' character ('^^') will remove the special meaning from it.


    ^fg(color)         set foreground color
    ^fg()              without arguments, sets default fg color
    ^bg(color)         set background color
    ^bg()              without arguments, sets default bg color


    ^i(path)           draw icon specified by path
                       Supported formats: XBM and optionally XPM

    ^r(WIDTHxHEIGHT)   draw a rectangle with the dimensions 
                       WIDTH and HEIGHT
    ^ro(WIDTHxHEIGHT)  rectangle outline

    ^c(RADIUS)         draw a circle with size RADIUS pixels
    ^co(RADIUS)        circle outline


    ^p(ARGUMENT)       position next input amount of PIXELs to the right
                       or left of the current position
                       a.k.a. relative positioning

    ^pa(ARGUMENT)      position next input at PIXEL
                       a.k.a. absolute positioning


     ^p(+-X)          move X pixels to the right or left of the current position (on the X axis) 

     ^p(+-X;+-Y)      move X pixels to the right or left and Y pixels up or down of the current 
                      position (on the X and Y axis) 

     ^p(;+-Y)         move Y pixels up or down of the current position (on the Y axis)

     ^p()             without parameters resets the Y position to its default 

     ^pa()            takes the same parameters as described above but positions at
                      the absolute X and Y coordinates 

     Further ^p() also takes some symbolic names as argument:

     _LOCK_X          Lock the current X position, useful if you want to
                      align things vertically
     _UNLOCK_X        Unlock the X position 
     _LEFT            Move current x-position to the left edge 
     _RIGHT           Move current x-position to the right edge 
     _TOP             Move current y-position to the top edge 
     _CENTER          Move current x-position to center of the window 
     _BOTTOM          Move current y-position to the bottom edge 


    ^ca(BTN, CMD) ... ^ca()      

                       Used to define 'clickable areas' anywhere inside the
                       title window or slave window. 
                       - 'BTN' denotes the mouse button (1=left, 2=right, 3=middle, etc.) 
                       - 'CMD' denotes the command that should be spawned when the specific
                         area has been clicked with the defined button
                       - '...' denotes any text or formating commands dzen accepts
                       - '^ca()' without arguments denotes the end of this clickable area

                         foo ^ca(1, echo one)^fg(red)click me and i'll echo one^fg()^ca() bar
Actions as commands:

    ^stick()            See section (2) 'Events and actions' for a detailed description 
    ^unstick()          of each command.


    ^tw()              draw to title window
                       This command has some annoyances, as only 
                       the input after the command will be drawn
                       to the title window, so it is best used 
                       only once and as first command per line.

    ^cs()              clear slave window
                       This command must be the first and only command
                       per line.

    ^ib(VALUE)         ignore background setting, VALUE can be either
                       1 to ignore or 0 to not ignore the bg color set
                       with ^bg(color).
                       This command is useful in combination with ^p()
                       and ^pa() in order to position the input inside 
                       other already drawn input.


These commands can appear anywhere and in any combination in dzen's

The color can be specified either as symbolic name (e.g. red,
darkgreen, etc.) or as #rrggbb hex-value (e.g. #ffffaa).

Icons must be in the XBM or optionally XPM format, see the "bitmaps"
directory for some sample icons. With the standard "bitmap" application
you can easily draw your own icons.

Some examples:

          ^fg(red)I'm red text ^fg(blue)I am blue

          ^bg(#ffaaaa)The ^fg(yellow)text to ^bg(blue)^fg(orange)colorize

          ^fg(grey70)Some text containing ^^ characters

   Input for icons:
          ^i(bitmaps/envelope.xbm) I am an envelope ^fg(yellow)and ^i(bitmaps/battery.xbm) I'm a baterry.

   Input for rectangles:
          6x4 rectangle ^r(6x4) ^fg(red)12x8 ^r(12x8) ^fg(yellow)and finally 100x15 ^r(100x15)

   Input for relative positioning:
          Some text^p(100)^fg(yellow)100 pixels to the right^p(50)^fg(red)50 more pixels to the right


* Display message and timeout after 10 seconds:
    (echo "This is a message"; sleep 10) | dzen2 -bg darkred -fg grey80 -fn fixed 

* Display message and never timeout:
    echo "This is a message"| dzen2 -p

* Display updating single line message:
    for i in $(seq 1 20); do A=${A}'='; print $A; sleep 1; done | dzen2

* Display header and a message with multiple lines:
    (echo Header; cal; sleep 20) | dzen2 -l 8

    Displays "Header" in the title window and the output of cal in the 8
    lines high slave window.

* Display updating messages:
    (echo Header; while true; do echo test$((i++)); sleep 1; done) | dzen2 -l 12

    The slave window will update contents if new input has arrived.

* Display log files:
    (su -c "echo LOGFILENAME; tail -f /var/log/messages") | dzen2 -l 20 -x 100 -y 300 -w 500

* Monthly schedule with remind:
    (echo Monthly Schedule; remind -c1 -m) | dzen2 -l 52 -w 410 -p -fn lime -bg '#e0e8ea' -fg black -x 635

* Simple menu:
    echo "Applications" | dzen2 -l 4 -p -m < menufile

* Horizontal menu without any files:
    {echo Menu; echo -e "xterm\nxclock\nxeyes\nxfontsel"} | dzen2 -l 4 -m h -p

* Extract PIDs from the process table:

    {echo Procs; ps -a} | dzen2 -m -l 12 -p \
    -e 'button1=menuprint;button3=exit;button4=scrollup:3;button5=scrolldown:3;entertitle=uncollapse;leaveslave=collapse' \
            | awk '{print $1}'

* Dzen as xmonad (see statusbar: | dzen2 -ta r -fn '-*-profont-*-*-*-*-11-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859' -bg '#aecf96' -fg black \
        -p -e 'sigusr1=raise;sigusr2=lower;onquit=exec:rm /tmp/dzen2-pid;button3=exit' & echo $! > /tmp/dzen2-pid

Have fun.


Dzen is a general purpose messaging, notification and menuing program for X11.







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