ApplicationDatabase(1)           FVWM-Crystal           ApplicationDatabase(1)

       FVWM-Crystal: application database

       Maciej Delmanowski <>

       Application database (and fvwm-crystal.apps script) is one of the most
       interesting elements of FVWM-Crystal desktop. Thanks to these elements
       you can have a panel or the menu with applications currently installed
       on a given system.

       Database structure is very flexible, allowing you to combine several
       databases into one (system-wide and user-wide, for example), mask
       selected applications or even whole directories, so they won't be
       visible, and so on.

       Application panel/menu generator also has many interesting features -
       you can create different panels and menu systems and easily blend them
       with your FVWM configuration.

       A database is a set of directories and scripts with special naming
       structure. Each directory and subdirectory creates a "category" in
       which you can put selected applications, for example "Games" or
       "Office". Categories can be nested, in turn creating subcategories,
       like "FPP Games" or "". In generation process each
       subdirectory is transformed into a submenu containg menu items
       specified in this subdirectory.

       Each directory and script have a special naming pattern. Here's the
       list of possible names:


              is the name of the menu item or button on a panel. This is a
              required field. If it's the only one present, generator assumes
              that this entry should be put in the menu or panel without
              checking if associated application is present.

              is used to specify a name of the executable file. It's used to
              determine if selected application is installed on the system,
              and in turn decide if this entry should be put in the menu/panel
              or not. Applications are searched in the directories specified
              using $PATH environment variable. This field is optional, and is
              only tested, if '--check-exec' option is present.

              is a numeric only field (also optional). It is used in the
              sorting mechanism to determine, what "importance" has particular
              menu item. Entries with higher priorities will be put higher in
              the menu system (therefore closer to the mouse pointer), lower
              priorities will be pushed at the end of the menu. By default an
              entry without priority field has priority set to 0.

       As you can see, each directory and script name is used to sort and
       create menus and panels. Also attributes of the files and directories
       are used in this process. Each directory and script has an executable
       (x) bit set, for allowing execution (see below) or reading inside
       directories. This can be used to exclude certain files or directories
       from the generated menus or panels. By removing the executable bit
       (chmod -x) from a file or directory you can prevent it to be "seen" by
       the generator and ommited in the generated menu. By combining this
       ability with "database merging" (each database masks previous one) you
       can use, for example, user-side application database to remove certain
       programs from this users' menu.

       Generator doesn't put in the menu entry complete path to the binary it
       found - instead it puts the path to the script itself. In the end, what
       users do is not launching applications directly, but instead launching
       scripts located in the application database, which in turn launch the
       applications themselves. That means, what's inside of the script, is
       completely meaningless to the generator; you can write complex scripts
       which are shown in the menu system and easily launch them.

       Instead of using the scripts, you can also make symlinks to selected
       binaries (using the specified naming rules), they also will be checked
       and included in the menu system. Script automatically tests, if symlink
       is correct (ie. target is present), and if the target has an executable
       bit set.

       You can give 'fvwm-crystal.apps' script several databases in one
       command, for example:

            fvwm-crystal.apps --database=/some/directory --database=/other/dir

       When that happens, generator first reads first given database
       (/some/directory), and after that adds next databases (/other/dir) to
       the first one. You can use this feature to make changes in separate
       database that affect generated menus and panels, but not modify the
       original database itself. This mechanism is used in FVWM-Crystal by
       combining user-side database located in '~/.fvwm/Applications' with
       system-wide, located in '/usr/share/fvwm-crystal/fvwm/Applications' (by

       For successfull "database masking" you need to use the same directory
       structure as the original database. That means, if you want to modify
       an entry located in, for example, '/Applications/Games/FPP', you need
       to create the same directories in your "local" database. You can omit
       the "priority" field in directory/file names, or change it, thus moving
       selected menu entry in the menu hierarhy. For example:

               system-wide:    /Applications/20~Games/FPP/10~quake~Quake
               user-wide:      /Applications/Games/FPP/30~quake~Quake

       File attributes also can be masked. If you want to remove a menu entry
       (or even entire submenu), you need to create all directories and a
       script which lead to selected entry, and then remove the executable bit
       (chmod -x) from the directory or script in your "local" database.

       Consequently, if you want to move a menu entry or submenu itself from
       one place to another in the menu structure, you can create neccesary
       files in desired location (or make symlinks to files/directories in
       original database), then create the "old" files and directories, and
       remove their executable bit. Menu entries will disappear from their
       original locations and appear in those selected by your database.

       Each application has it's own icon. Icon files are found using the
       entry or exectuable file name, like this:


       First 'entry_name' is tested, if icon doesn't exist, script looks for
       one with 'executable_name'.

       Icon directories can be specified using '--search-icons-in' option. You
       can specify more than one directory by separating them using : (colon)

       There are two special file names:

       - directory.png
              is used for the "categories" which doesn't have their own icon
              (it was not found by the generator in specified directory). You
              can specify your own name using '--default-dir-icon' option. For

            ImagePath $[FVWM_USERDIR]/icons/
            fvwm-crystal.apps --search-icons-in=$[FVWM_USERDIR]/icons/

              Result: <ImagePath>22x22/dir.png

       - default.png
              is used for applications which doesn't have their own icon. You
              can use '--default-file-icon' to change the name, in the same
              way '--default-dir-icon' can be used.

       Here I will describe some example uses of the generator, if you want to
       see complete list of commandline options, you can use command:

               fvwm-crystal.apps --help | less

       Generator doesn't create all panel options specified in 'man
       FvwmButtons', just the button themselves. Therefore you can use FVWM
       configuration to decide how the resulting panel will look and where it
       will be placed. For example, you can create panels with swallowed
       windows and application buttons, by putting PipeRead command with
       'fvwm-crystal.apps' in between the panel configuration, like this:

               *SomePanel: (1x1, Swallow FvwmPager)
               PipeRead 'fvwm-crystal.apps --database=/some/base
       *SomePanel: (1x1, Swallow xclock)

       You can make application panels which will open app menus, with
       different icon size on the panel and in the menu (big on the panel,
       small in the menu), by using generator several times with different
       options. For example:

               PipeRead 'fvwm-crystal.apps --database=/some/base
                       --panel-action1=menu --search-icons-in=/icons/32x32/apps
       PipeRead 'fvwm-crystal.apps --database=/some/base .PP
                       --search-icons-in=/icons/22x22/apps --no-panel'

       add more examples here...

version 3.1.0                    June 13, 2011          ApplicationDatabase(1)