[mythtv-users] Minimal button requirement for remote controls?

Yeechang Lee ylee at pobox.com
Fri Nov 6 12:24:47 UTC 2009

David Engel recently wrote:
> With a limited number of keys on most remotes, you often want to
> overload them for different contexts and Myth doesn't always make
> that easy or possible currently.

I suspect there needs to be a consensus on what comprises a minimally
acceptable MythTV remote so that keybindings and on-screen prompts can
be built around it.

The closest thing I've found to a consensus is the "Remote Controls"
section of the HOWTO
(<URL:http://www.mythtv.org/docs/mythtv-HOWTO-11.html#ss11.1>), which
describes a remote with 20 keys. Other key 1 and 2 don't have to be
bound to INFO[*] and NEXTCARD; in fact, I'd argue that with only 20
buttons they'd be more useful as PAGEUP and PAGEDOWN. (How many
remotes out there other than Apple's, no matter how minimal, don't
have Ch+/Ch- buttons?) This, in turn, would free 3 and 9 for David's
since-removed work that added 0-9 as 10%-increment jumpkeys within
lists, which would be an alternative to/preferable to my work--which
MythUI in 0.22 greatly improved by making global--implementing the

Speaking of those bindings, unlike Ch+-/Ch- very few remotes have
"Top," "Middle," and "Bottom" buttons. They *are* going to have 2, 5,
and 8. After upgrading to 0.22 I quickly (re)bound
PAGETOP/PAGEMIDDLE/PAGEBOTTOM to them. Although by doing so I lost the
2 binding to sort program lists by title--a conflict that didn't
previously exist since the bindings weren't available pre-0.22 in
lists with that sort functionality--the new 0.22 MENU popup menu in
said lists still lets me sort that way.

The on-screen prompt still mentions 1 and 2 as sort keys,
though. Another example of the need for a minimal-remote consensus is
that, if all the number keys--not just 3 and 9--were freed from being
used by default for anything other than the digits themselves, then 1)
on-screen prompts can be rewritten accordingly to avoid the sort of
inaccuracy that resulted from my rebinding, and 2) David's 10%
functionality could be reimplemented via keybindings
(PAGE10/PAGE20/PAGE30/etc., etc.) and users would have a choice of
which set of bindings to manually bind to use to rapidly navigate
large lists. 3 and 9 won't be freed unless a consensus exists that any
MythTV-compliant remote will have Ch+/Ch- buttons, though.

Finally, let me briefly readdress the Apple remote. While I admire its
minimalism, I think most MythTV users would agree that said minimalism
is insufficient for our use. In any case, having six buttons is only
feasible for Apple's purposes because users can do things like holding
down the Menu button for secondary actions; given that MythTV users
use LIRC and keyboards--neither of which can easily distinguish
between "long" and "short" button presses--that isn't going to work
for us.

[*] This of course changed with 0.22, but I trust that eventually we
are going to move away from the strange need for two "menu" buttons.

Yeechang Lee <ylee at pobox.com> | San Francisco CA US

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