This is the first in a series of how-to’s that will help or allow you to change, tweak, edit and do other things with your Slingbox Slingplayer’s remote control skin.
This series of articles will be based on the Slingplayer for Windows 2.0.4.x player version. There are ways you can do the same for the MAC player and the Web-based player but we will concentrate on the Windows Stand Alone player for now.
These articles are not meant to help you fix any issue you have with controlling your Slingbox. If you are having an issue with that please see the information contained here.
First the basics.
What is a remote skin?
The skin is the graphical user interface you use to control the device you have connected to your Slingbox. It could be your PVR, TV, Satellite player etc. It will either be the default looking remote on the left or could be a remote that looks like the one you actually use on your device like the one on the right.
The way this works is that Sling Media has created about 100 realistic looking remote skins. They have ones for TiVo, Dish Network, Motorola and others. When you setup your Slingplayer and select the device you have connected to your Slingbox the player checks to see if there is a realistic remote available for it. If so the player will download that remote skin and you will use it to control your device. If not then you receive the default skin, pictured on the left, to control your device.
Regardless of what “skin” you actually see and use basically has no bearing on you being able to control your device. The control information is stored in your Slingbox itself. Hence why they call it a “skin” it is essentially just the graphics you see or use to control your device.
Where are the skin files located on my computer?
All the default and custom skin files are downloaded and saved in a remote folder on your computer. For Windows XP users they are in your “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Sling Media\SlingPlayer\2.0\Remote” folder. For Vista users they are in your “C:Program Data\Sling Media\SlingPlayer2.0\Remote” folder.
It is easy to determine what skin file is which by their file names. For example the default remote’s file is “default.spr” or the TiVo remote file is named “Tivo.spr”. The primary name matching your device and the extension of “spr” simply signifies that it is a “S”ling “P”layer “R”emote file.
What can you do with these “SPR” files?
Well actually nothing. But in order to create or edit your own skin files you need to know where they are located and their file name conventions.
Retrieve and Edit your own custom remote file
Now that you know where everything is you need to retrieve your own editable remote skin file to create your personalized remote skin.
We are going to be using a Tivo remote as an example but this will work with any of the other custom realistic remotes.
Since we are using a Tivo remote we know that the “SPR” file that it uses is called “Tivo.spr”. If you are using something else just look do the filename of that remote using the instructions above for locating SPR files.
Then you would go to our remote skin downloads area here and find the ZIPped file with the same named prefix of your SPR file. In this case we want the Tivo.zip file which is shown here. Download that file and uncompress it somewhere on your computer.
Retrieve the remote properties file
You now need the generic properties remote file for your remote skin. This file is the same for all custom skins. This file is located here. Download it and uncompress the XML file into the same folder as the remote skin files you uncompressed earlier.
Edit your skin file
Now that you have the files you can edit the graphic PNG files as needed to change the way your remote looks. Some of the graphic files are easy to determine what they are, look like and what they will do. Others are a bit harder to work with.
You should have a good photo editing program to change the graphics. The simple Window’s Paint program just won’t do. Photoshop, Corel or other good editing programs are highly recommended.
In the case of the TiVo file we are working with the remote background image file is named “tivo-back.png” and looks like the image on the right. You can recolor, Resize or make any change you wish to it.”
The button files are a little trickier as you can see in the image below the one button file named “tivo-thumb-down.png” As you can see there is actually 7 images in one file.
The 7 different images as what is called the different “States” of the button. When you place your cursor on one of the remote buttons or click on the button it changes color temporarily. You can edit each one of these “States” to appear however you wish.
In the case above here are the 7 different states:
State “0″ type=”Normal”
State “1″ type=”Normal;Hot”
State “2″ type=”Pressed;Hot”
State “3″ type=”Normal;Selected”
State “4″ type=”Normal;Selected;Hot”
State “5″ type=”Pressed;Selected;Hot”
State 6″ type=”Disabled”
“Hot” meaning the cursor is hovering on it.
Saving and using your new remote skin file
Once you have finished editing your remote skin you need to compress it or “Zip” it into one file again. Not forgetting to include the Property.xml file!
Once ZIPped rename the file to your remote SPR’s filename, again in this case it would be “Tivo.spr”. Then replace your original SPR file in the \Remote folder we discussed earlier.
Run the Slingplayer and test your remote
Now all you have to do is run the Slingplayer program and take a look at your new customized remote. If it looks as you want it you are all set. If you want to make any changes then you can go back to where your UNcompressed files are and edit as needed. Then re-Zip and replace the spr again.
Go back to original remote
If you ever want to go back to your original remote or something got changed or missed when editing your custom file all you have to do is delete the SPR file you created. Next time you run the Slingplayer it will see that the file is missing and download the original one back to your computer.
This is just the basic information on how to edit a Slingplayer supplied remote. We will be discussing how to edit the default remote and how to create your own personalized remote in subsequent articles.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!