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Manual Reference Pages  -  BRICONS (1)


bricons - quick start up utility for applications using text, icons, colour icons and pop-up menus on an X display


X Defaults
Setting Bitmap Directories
Resource Files


bricons [options]
[-file] [-col] [-help]
[-bw] [-bh] [-bmdir] [-default]


Bricons program allows the user to quickly start up applications by selecting the appropriate button from the display and pressing the left mouse button. A maximum of up to sixteen main menu buttons can be displayed. Each main menu button can launch an application or pop-up a sub menu containing more buttons. The buttons can be represented as a bitmap, text or a colour icon (i.e Pixmap).

Information on how the program is to present each button (either as a bitmap, text or colour icon) and the application that is to be executed if that button is selected is contained in script file called .briconsrc. This file should be stored in the same directory as the program is executed from.

The .briconsrc file contains a number of key words which are used to indicate if the button label is some text, bitmap or pixmap and if the button is to pop-up a sub menu or launch a program. These key words are explained below:

The .briconsrc file should start with the keyword %icon or %text or %pixmap The key word %icon indicates that the button label is a bitmap. This should be followed by the file name containing the bitmap. For example:

%icon clock.icon

The key word %pixmap indicates that the button label is a colour pixmap. This should be followed by the full path name where the pixmap can be found. For example:

%pixmap /usr/cur/bri/xpm/clock.xpm

The key word %text indicates that the button label is some text. The text can be split over three lines by using the new line character \n. For example:

%text Line1\nLine2\nLine3

would be presented as: Line1 Line2 Line3

Once a button has been selected it is prevented from accidentally being re-selected by "graying out" the button (default action). Sometimes however it maybe desirable to allow the button to be selected more than once. This can be done be using the keyword %icon+ or %pixmap+ or %text+

The next line in the .briconsrc file should either contain the key word %sub_menu or the application to be started. If the name of an application is given then a check is made to see if such an program can be executed. If the program does not exist or is not in the users path then an error message is printed and the button associated with the application is ignored.

If the key word %sub_menu is used then a pop-up sub menu is created. Any further buttons defined in the briconsrc file will appear in the sub menu for that button until the key word %end_sub_menu is found. A maximum of ten buttons are allowed in a single pop-up sub menu.

Any line in the .briconsrc file starting with a # character is treated as a comment and will be ignored.

This program has four default buttons labelled source, edit, help and quit. The edit button allows the user to edit there icon file (default being an empty ./briconsrc file) and to add or delete buttons from the script file. The source button causes the program to distory all the current buttons being displayed and re-read the icon file and display the new buttons.


bricons accepts all of the standard X Toolkit command line options along with the additional options listed below:
-file Tells the program to read this file instead of the default file.
-col Indicates the number of buttons in a column before starting a new row. The default number of columns is 15.
-help Tells the program the path for the help file.
-bmdir This program will search the default bitmap directory (./bitmaps) for any bitmaps that are to be used to represent buttons. If you wish to add different bitmap directories then use this command line argument followed by a colon separated list of path names. For example if the program needs to find bitmaps in two different directories then the following can be entered at the command line:

bricons -bmdir /usr/local/bitmaps:/usr/mydir/bitmaps

  Toggle used for including/not including the default Edit Icons button in the bricons program. This flag expects a Boolean value. If the bricons program is called with the -default flag set to False then the Edit Icons button is not included.
-bw Specify the width of each button.
-bh Specify the height of each button.


The bricons program reads the .Xdefaults file and Xbricons resource file during startup and uses the appropriate resource specification to customise the appearance or characteristics of its display. This program understands all of the core resource names and classes as well as:
  Specifies the number of buttons in a column.
  Specifies path name for icon file to be read.
  Specifies path name for help file.
  Specifies path name for bitmap directories.
  Specify the width of each button.
  Specifies the height of each button.


This section explains how to specify bitmap file paths using the .Xdefaults file. For the quickest and simplest method see the OPTIONS section under -bmdir.

This program will search the default bitmap directory for any bitmaps that are to be used to represent buttons. If the user wishes the program to search other directories for bitmap files then this should be specified in the users .X11defaults file. *BitmapFilePath: should be added followed by colon separated path names where the bitmap files can be found. For example:

*BitmapFilePath:        /usr/local/include/X11/bitmaps:/usr/mydir/bitmaps


This program uses version 3.2 of the xpm libraries written by Arnaud Le Hors (source code can be found from anonymous ftp to and from many other sites). The bricons program will produce colour bitmap buttons from pixmap files provided that these files are in the correct format. Below is a outline summary of the format for pixmap files. For more detailed information please consult the xpm manual. These files are text files so they can be edited using a normal text editor.

The XPM format presents a C syntax, in order to provide the ability to include XPM files in C. It is in fact an array of strings composed of six different sections as follows:

/* XPM */
static char * <variable name> [] = {
/* width height ncolours chars_per_pixel */
/* colours */
/* pixels */

For example:

/* XPM */
static char * clock [] = {
/* width height ncolors chars_per_pixel */
"125 85 4 1",
/* colours */
"       c #ffffffffffff",
"B      c #ffff00000000",
"C      c #ffffffff0000",
"D      c #000000000000",
"    BB BB BB   BB   BBB    BBB    BB    B",
"    B  BB  B   BB   BBB    BBB    BB    B",
"                                         "};


The Xbricons file specifies the required resources. To make sure the program uses the resources file set the following line in your .login: setenv XUSERFILESEARCHPATH ~/app_defaults/%N

and place all all resources in the app_defaults directory.


The bricons program is a toolkit-based application which consists of a combination of widgets. In order to specify resources, it is useful to know the hierarchy of the widgets which compose bricons. In the list below, indentation indicates hierarchical structure. The widget class name is given first, followed by the widget instance name.

        Xbricons        toplevel        
                Form    box
                        Command action[18]
                        OverrideShell   popup_shell
                                Form    popup_layout
                                Command sub_action[10]


Below is an example of a simple .briconsrc file:

# <-- a line starting with a ’#’ is a comment line
#       Bri’s icon file

# first line must have keyword %icon or %text # to indicate if button is an icon

%icon calculator xcalc %text Games\n sub\n menu %sub_menu         %text xeyes         xeyes         %text othello         othello %end_sub_menu


After selecting the source button the buttons may not be re-displayed correctly. Selecting the source button a second time may help.


Bruce R Ingram, University of Kent at Canterbury.
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--> BRICONS (l) 16th November 1992

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