Wplayer version 2.00 Users Guide


Keith Rubow



What is Wplayer? It is not a media player at all. Wplayer is an application that controls the popular Winamp media player (for Windows) or Audacious media player (for Linux), and adds some nice features to make the media player easier to use for square dance tape groups. It adds a tape counter (like on a tape recorder) that you can zero (typically at the start of each sequence), and lets you instantly rewind back to zero. It adds a tip timer to keep track of how long you have been dancing, so you know when it is time to rotate new people into the square. It adds convenient user programmable keyboard shortcuts for all functions so you can easily control the playback of your MP3 files without a mouse. And it can manage multiple playlists, keeping track of where you left off in each one so you can continue at a later time.

Why use Winamp or Audaciuos for the player? For starters, both are designed to be easily controlled from another application. They also have many plugins available to do things like speed up or slow down the music without changing the pitch (handy if the dance was simply called too fast for you, and you need to slow it down a little). Each also has a nice playlist editor, so I didn't need to reinvent the wheel. And both Winamp and Audacious are free.


Wplayer for Windows

You must uninstall any previous version of Wplayer before installing Wplayer version 2.00.

Before installing Wplayer it is necessary to install the runtime libraries it uses. Wplayer is written using the Qt cross platform development software, so it is necessary to install the Qt runtime libraries. These libraries are quite large, and are NOT included in the setup file for Wplayer. The Qt runtime library files are included on the CD with Wplayer, and can also be downloaded for free from my web site at www.krubow.com. The installation file for the Qt runtime libraries is SetupQt4Lib.exe. Simply double-click the setup file to install the Qt runtime libraries.

I decided to keep the Qt runtime libraries separate from the Wplayer setup file because they are quite large, and need to be installed only once. This makes it possible to install other Qt based applications (such as the UtagIt MP3 tag editor) without having to download the Qt runtime libraries as part of the setup file each time. It also makes it quicker and easier to download an upgrade to Wplayer or UtagIt.

Wplayer for Windows is distributed as a setup file called SetupWplayer200.exe. This file is on the CD (in folder Wplayer), and may also be downloaded from www.krubow.com. Simply double-click the setup file to install it. The default installation folder is C:\Program Files\Wplayer, and a desktop icon will be created for your convenience. Wplayer makes no entries in your system registry. All settings are kept in a file called wplayer.xml in the folder where Wplayer is installed.

Because this software is open source, the installation also includes the source files. By default the source files are placed in C:\Program Files\Wplayer\src. These files are not necessary for operation of the program, and may be deleted if desired.

Wplayer for Linux

Wplayer for Linux is distributed as a ZIP file, LinuxWplayer200.zip. Simply extract this zip file to any empty folder you want (perhaps your-home-folder/Wplayer). Set the file properties of Wplayer to executable (the executable property does not get preserved in a zip file). Then create a desktop or menu shortcut to the executable file Wplayer (be sure to set the working path to the same path as the exacutable file). The source files will be placed in a subfolder called src. Wplayer makes no entries in your Linux system registry (ha ha, that's a joke, Linux has no registry). All settings are kept in a file called wplayer.xml in the folder where Wplayer is installed.

Winamp for Windows

The installation file for Winamp is included on the CD, or the latest version can be downloaded from www.winamp.com. The Full (i.e. free) version is quite sufficient. It is not necessary to get the Pro version. Simply double-click the setup file to install it. It must be installed in the default folder C:\Program Files\Winamp so Wplayer can find it. It is not necessary to enable any of the advanced features such as the Winamp Agent, the Media Library, or the Mini Web Browser (but enabling these features doesn't hurt Wplayer either). Winamp also does NOT need to be the default media player on your computer.

Audacious for Linux

Audacious is a Winamp look-alike work-alike for Linux. It is a fork of the Beep media player, which was a fork of the XMMS media player. To install Audacious, use the package manager for your version of Linux. Audacious is included in many Linux distributions, but should be available in the repositories if it is not already included. Be sure you install Audacious version 1.22, as the later versions are not yet supported by Wplayer.


Quick Overview

Main Window

Wplayer Main Window

The Wplayer main window consists of the usual menu bar at the top, several informational displays including a large tape counter (left) and tip timer (right), and a set of 12 buttons for controlling the functions of Wplayer. These buttons are almost never used, however, since all functions may be controlled via convenient keyboard shortcuts. The window may be resized by dragging the resize handle in the lower right corner.


The display shows the name of the current playlist file. A playlist file is simply a list of MP3 files to play. Typically there is one file for each tip, so all the tips in a dance are listed in a playlist file. Creation of playlist files is very easy, and will be described later.

The display shows which track in the playlist is currently playing (in the screenshot above track number 2 is playing (out of a total of 67 tracks in the playlist), and this track is identified as "Powell - Track02".

The position and length of the current file are also shown (in minutes and seconds). In the screenshot above the length of the file is shown as 12:23 (12 minutes and 23 seconds) and it is currently playing at position 7:16.

Finally, the display shows the tape counter and the tip timer in large, easy to read characters. In the screenshot above the tape counter indicates 15 seconds, indicating that it is positioned 15 seconds after the last place the counter was set to zero. The tip timer indicates 9:41. This counter counts down until it hits zero, at which time the white background of the tip timer turns red, and the tip timer sound (if any) will play. These numbers are large so they may be easily read from a distance.


The buttons control all the functions of Wplayer. Since each button may be assigned a keyboard shortcut, the buttons are rarely used. Below is a description of the function of each button, with the default keyboard shortcut listed in parentheses. Note that keyboard shortcuts are easily customizable, and multiple shortcuts may be assigned to each button.

Setting up Playlist and Tape Group files

When Wplayer is launched, Winamp or Audacious will automatically be launched (if it is not already running). It is then necessary to create one or more Playlist and Tape Group files if you want Wplayer to remember where you left off in each playlist. This is a very simple operation

Creating a Playlist file

Playlist files are created using Winamp or Audacious. First, empty the media player playlist be selecting List Opts -> New List, or by selecting all entries in the playlist (clicking the playlist and hitting Ctrl-A is the fastest way) and hitting Del. Then add files to the playlist. I find the easiest way to do this is by dragging and dropping the files from Windows Explorer (or your Linux file manager) into the playlist window. Dragging and dropping a folder will add all files in the folder to the playlist. Then select List Opts -> Save List to save the playlist file to a convenient location. Hint: if you run multiple tape groups, you may want to have a separate folder for each group for holding playlists and tape group files. Save the playlist file in the default "M3U" format for Windows, or "xspf" for Linux.

Creating a Tape Group file

Once you have one (or more) play list files, it is time to create Tape Group files so Wplayer can keep track of where you left off in each playlist. A Tape Group file contains is the name of the playlist file, and where you left off in the playlist (track number, and position in the track). This makes is very easy to resume a dance right where you left off.

Use Wplayer to create the Tape Group file. Select Play -> Playlist from the menu and select the playlist file you created above. It is NECESSARY to do this even if you just created the playlist file, and the playlist is currently loaded into Winamp or Audacious. This is because Wplayer has no other way of knowing the name of the playlist file to use! Then select File -> Save As... to save the Tape Group file to a convenient location. Hint: I usually find it most convenient to give the Tape Group file the same name as the playlist file. For example, the playlist file might be called "AACE2007C2.m3u", while the Tape Group file is called "AACE2007C2.grp". That makes it obvious that those two files go together.

Using Wplayer

Launch Wplayer. Wplayer will launch Winamp or Audacious automatically. Wplayer remembers the Tape Group file that was used last, and will open it automatically. To change to a different Tape Group file, simply select File -> Open. You can also Drag a Tape Group file from Windows Explorer or your file manager and drop it onto the Wplayer window. Wplayer will always ask if you want to save the previous Tape Group file if you have done any changes (changed the playlist file or Zeroed the counter at a new location).

Using Wplayer is easier than using a tape recorder. Just use the Spacebar to start or stop the music. Wplayer has a nice feature to automatically back up a few seconds (user configurable) any time the music is stopped and restarted. This avoids accidentally skipping a word or two, which can be a very bad thing! Hit Z to zero the counter. Hit R to rewind back to zero. The Arrow keys are used to skip forward or backward in user programmable second steps (usually 5 seconds), so it is very easy to rapidly skip forward or backwards. You can even hold the arrow keys down so they auto-repeat to move forward and backward really fast!

The tip timer will start running as soon as the music is started. The timer can be paused if necessary, or reset, by hitting T. When the timer goes to zero the background color of the timer turns red. The tip timer sound file (if any) will also play to alert you that the timer has run out.

Whenever a Tape Group file is saved (this happens automatically when you open a new one or when you exit Wplayer) it will know exactly where you left off in that playlist (it remembers the last place you zeroed the counter).


Custom Keyboard Shortcuts


The Settings -> Shortcuts menu opens the Shortcuts dialog for full customization of all keyboard shortcuts. To delete an existing shortcut, simply select it from the list of shortcuts and click the Delete button.


To add a new shortcut, Click the Add button. The Shortcut dialog box will open. Then simply select the shortcut key from the dropdown list, check any modifier keys you wish to use with the shortcut (Ctrl, Shift and/or Alt), and select the action the shortcut is to perform (the actions correspond to the functions of the twelve pushbuttons on the main Wplayer window). Click OK, and the new shortcut will be added to the shortcut list.

Changes in This Version

Wplayer Version 2.00 now includes user customizable keyboard shortcuts. The visual appearance has been updated because I have migrated to a new software development platform. I now use Qt, a cross platform Windows/Linux/Mac development system. All Wplayer windows are now dynamically resizeable using the resize grip in the lower right corner of the window. The main window now has buttons for all Wplayer functions, including Undo, Redo, Volume Up and Volume Down. The red "STOP" indicator for the tip timer has been replaced with a red background on the tip timer (it takes up less room).

Because of licensing requirements, Wplayer is now OPEN SOURCE. The full source code is included in the installation files available from my web site..

There is now a native Linux version of Wplayer which uses the Audacious media player. This works great on those new Asus sub-notebook computers running Linux.

For advanced users, the Qt system supports multiple styles for the windows. You can select a different style by including a command line switch -style=XXX following the program name in the Target field of the shortcut used to launch Wplayer. XXX may be one of: Windows, WindowsXP, Motif, CDE, Plastique or Cleanlooks. Plastique and Cleanlooks both look very nice.