Custom data files for AppKeys 2.0

*Edit 12 July 2012*

My favourite new feature of AppKeys is that *you* can now supply your own hotkey data files and add them to the app via iTunes. How does one do this? I’m glad you asked. Before following these instructions, get my handy Appkeys Data Utility from github. You can also download more cool data files from the AppKeys Modules tumblr blog.

AppKeys holds lots of information about how to do things in other applications or at the command line. Basically remembers keybindings and commands for you. At the moment it also allows you to customise the color of the header for each app in your database. You can create an AppKeys data file in either of two ways:

1. create a plain text file and convert it to xml (EASY)
2. edit an xml file manually (HARD)

The starter kit contains examples of data files in both PLIST and TXT form for you to reference (or include in your own!). The perl script will convert your properly formatted plain text list into an AppKeys-digestable xml file. (For our mac friends this also comes in droplet form.) Or you can follow the examples and create the xml file yourself.

Plain text file

If you want to use AppKeys a lot (I hope so!) then using a plain text file is the easiest way to go. The syntax is pretty simple and easy to update. The number after the app name brackets is optional – the RGB 0-255 values of the color you want this app to use for it’s header. You have to have at least 1 section but you can have as many as you like. On the iPad, the sections will be arranged with odd numbered sections in the left column and evens on the right.

[ app name ]*255 255 255
section name
 key description
+ a note about this
-  command description

when you finish you’re file, it needs to be converted by the App-Keys converter script ( Alternatively, mac users can drop their text file on the included droplet. To convert the file:

$ ./ myDataFile.txt

This will result in a file named:


All you do now is add it to your device using iTunes File Sharing and adding the file to AppKeys.

XML file

warning! may be unsafe for beginners

AppKeys is particular about how it’s data file is formatted. To that end, use the .plist file as a template. (.plist is actually an xml extension) An app like xcode (which is free!) is great for editing this file. The layout of the file is super important to having your data source be read correctly when adding it to AppKeys. Each app in the file’s list is a <dict> type. It must contain at least one section. Colors are optional. The colors are specified as 0-255 RGB values. The template itself is laid out like this:

  • app name (string)
  • colors (dict)
    • red (integer)
    • green (integer)
    • blue (integer)
  • sections (array)
    • section name (string)
    • section items (array)
      • (dict)
        • description (string)
        • command (string)
        • keys (array)
          • (string)

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