Interface Building – Execute DATs | TouchDesigner

Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the most obvious features of a device. In my case, I finally decided to do some investigating about the nature and function of the LAN port on the back of an InFocus 2116. It is not uncommon to see projectors with network access ports these days but I had always assumed that they only worked with the access software that the manufacturer is looking to sell / distribute. InFocus produces a free piece of software called ProjectorNet ( ) that’s designed to give system admins quick access to the settings and status of connected projectors. This seems like a handy piece of software, but just wasn’t something I had been in a position to review or experiment with. Last week when I finally gave myself some time to look at my LAN options for this InFocus, I noticed something when I booted up the machine – in a rather unassuming way, the projector was listing an IP address on the lamp-up screen.

Being the curious type, I decided to see what I got if I pinged the address. I also looked for open ports, and discovered that it was listing for http. Opening up a web browser I decided to try my luck and see what would happen if I just typed in the IP address of the projector itself. I was greeted by a lovely log-in screen for the projector.

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Selecting Administrator from the drop down menu, and leaving the password field blank (I just guessed that the password was either going to be blank or “admin”), I was a shocked to see the holy grail of projector finds. Access to all of the projector’s settings and calibration tools. Jackpot. For anyone who has ever been in the unfortunate position of trying to wrangle the menus of a projector, you’ll know how maddening this experience can be – especially if there’s any chance that the previous user might have left the projector in ceiling mode (upside down) or rear-projection mode (backwards).

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As it turns out, the task of remote wrangling and futzing is in fact something I’ve been wasting time doing. In thinking about how to use this find to my best advantage I started thinking about the production that I’ll be working on in the Spring of 2014 – Wonder Dome. One of the challenges of Wonder Dome is the complex multi-projector installation, calibration, and operation that our team will be working with. Suddenly having the ability to manage our projection system over the network is a huge win – and a discovery that started me working on the application of this particular find.

Our media server is going to run a custom piece of software developed in Derivative’s TouchDesigner. As I’ve been working on various parts of the media system, the issue of easy calibration has been high on our wish list. To that end it seemed like being able to power and manage the projectors from within TouchDesigner would be a more than handy. Here’s the small piece of part of our calibration window dedicated to this process:

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Here I have four fields where the IP address of the projectors can be entered. Saving the show file will mean that we’ll only need to do this process once, but also means that if for some reason we swap out a projector, we can easily change the IP address. The Projector Status button opens all three address in separate tabs of my default web browser. Let’s take a look at how to make that work.

Here’s what this part of the network looks like:

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Here I have four Field Components, and a Button Component. In this particular network I’ve altered one field comp to act as a static label (Projector IP Address), and I’ve altered the button. Turning off the top field was fairly straightforward. Looking at the Panel page of this Comp you’ll notice a toggle for “Enable.” By setting this parameter to “Off” the panel element is no longer active.

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I knew that I wanted the button to pull from three IP address. I started by first adding three field Comps. Next I added my button comp. To pull in the three strings from the field comps I needed to add inputs to the button. Let’s take a look inside of the button comp to see how this works.

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Other than the usual button ingredients, I’ve added a few other elements. I have three In DATs, one Text DAT, three Substitute DATs, a single Merge DAT, a Null DAT, all ending in a Panel Execute DAT.

Here the important starting principle is that our Panel Execute DAT needs the following string in order to open our web page “viewfile http://IP_Address_Here“. Listing three viewfile commands means that all of those files are opened at once. Practically that meant that in order to make this panel command work I needed to correctly format my IP address and add them to the Panel Execute DAT in order to open the three web pages. If we take a look at the format of the In – Text, – Substitute DAT string we’ll see how this works.

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Here’s how the following DATs work in this network.

  • In DAT – this pulls in the text string entered into the Field Comp.
  • Text DAT – in this DAT I’ve formatted my command for the Execute DAT, with the exception of including a placeholder for the IP address of my projectors.
  • Substitute DAT – the substitute DAT uses the string of my Text DAT, and then removes the placeholder and replaces that value with the IP address of my projectors.

Let’s look at the parameters of the Substitute DAT so we can see how this node works.

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Here I specified that the term “P1” should be replaced by the contents of the In DAT. I exported the values of the string with the expression “op(“in1″)[0,0]” which means – in the operator named “in1” pull the contents of the first cell in the first row of the table.

These three Substitute DATs are then combined with a Merge DAT, passed to a Null (just in case I need to make any further modifications at another point), and finally passed into a Panel Execute DAT.

Let’s quickly take a closer look at the Panel Execute DAT to make sure that we know exactly what it’s doing. First off we want to make sure that we’re using T-Script for this particular method. You can check this by looking for the “T” in the upper right hand corner of the properties dialog box.

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We also want to make sure that we force this DAT to stay speaking T-Script. We can do this by bringing up the “Common” page, and selecting “Node” for the language method.

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Next let’s test this to make sure it’s working. First we’ll move up a level so we can see our button. We’ll make our button something we can interact with by clicking on the View Active button in the bottom right hand corner (it’s the button that looks like a + sign). Now we should be able to click our button which should in turn launch three browser windows.

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Bingo, bango our button now opens up three tabs in Chrome. If you need some more information about working with buttons in general you can do some more reading here.