[vlc-devel] Mouse as a remote controller

Ivan Lezhnjov IV ivan.lezhnjov.iv at gmail.com
Thu Nov 28 18:25:07 CET 2013

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if VLC devs could tell me why none of the recent VLC versions (I have no idea about the earlier ones), neither on Mac OS X that I currently use as my desktop system of choice, nor Linux which I used to use as a desktop OS, do not allow to assign mouse buttons clicks, and scroller, as hot keys.

I've been desperately trying to find a solution to remote control my VLC. I am personally a big fan of personal computing, and I do not want a dedicated HTPC or whatever. Feels like a waste of resources when an entire computer is only used to occasionally play back a movie, or two, on a weekend. I understand that for some people it is a desirable option, I'm just trying to speak for all users like myself. People that rely on their modern, thin and slick laptops with a powerhouse under the hood. Machines that are capable not only of surfing HTTP, but also fill one's room with rich, beautiful sound and vibrant moving pictures.

That being said, when it comes to remote controllers and VLC there are a couple of options:

* Infrared remote controllers. Yes, VLC supports Apple's remote controller, but this works only with a select few computers that Apple produces. This doesn't work with Macbook Air, for instance. Plugging in a USB infrared receiver is just well, really unwanted in light of what I'm going to get across as my point in this message. Besides, getting one in some countries (like where I live) is a real challenge, and the amount of research I've already put into trying to understand whether this or that USB IrDA dongle will work with Macbook Air is beyond what a casual computer user would do.

* Mobile phone. Cumbersome combination of mobile apps that can control VLC and a cellphone, a solution that requires active wi-fi connection that translates into a number of issues. Firstly, it is a bad idea to have a wi-fi based remote controller in your hand or close to you because of all the controversy with electromagnetic radiation. Better safe than sorry, and avoid unnecessary exposure as much as you can. Secondly, it drains a cellphone's battery. Thirdly, it is very uncomfortable to use because of having to unlock your screen and missing haptic feedback. Keeping a phone with a lit display for 1.30hrs is going to drain your battery needlessly fast. Having too look at another display to find controls and manipulate them when you're watching a video is considerably more distracting than using a remote like Apple's or even typical TV remote clicker that is usually crowded with all sorts of buttons.

* Now, consider this alternative. A wireless mouse. I have a Logitech's VX Revolution, a typical 2.4GHz QUAD wireless mouse. Purchased in 2007 still rocks my world. I have been using it as a remote controller for years now. It offers unmistakable physical sense of controls with clear boundaries that separate them, few buttons, no intensive electro-magnetic radiation as one would get from a cellphone, no need to look at a display to find controls. Up to 30 meters range. It is a universally available control device for perhaps 99% of VLC users. It can work across all major platforms: Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. Left, right and middle mouse button clicks as well as scroll up and down actions also work universally without a need for configuration of the device on all platforms.

Suppose VLC supported input from a mouse to control application's behavior, we could use this following configuration: 

* middle click -> Play/Pause
* left or right button click (whichever you feel is more intuitive) mouse button click -> seek forward
* right or left button click (whichever you feel is more intuitive) mouse button click -> seek backwards
* scroll up -> increase volume
* scroll down -> decrease volume

There you have it, all important controls in a convenient device that all of us already have (I can imagine a lot of people would still use a mouse with a cord to control VLC. Regardless, I think they would appreciate this option).

A wireless mouse that is so ubiquitous today in people's homes IS THE ULTIMATE REMOTE CONTROLLER. 

I cannot emphasize this enough, and it is beyond me why VLC has never (?) allowed to assign mouse buttons as hot keys to control video playback.

So, please, on behalf of bazillion of owners of cordless mouse controllers, and those liking their mouse controllers with a cord alike, would you be so kind and allow us to use them as remote controllers without having to invest money in additional equipment and spend time on setting it up and making it work across all the major computer platforms that many of us sometimes try out for various reasons from curiosity to conscious choices.


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