2.4 Vito ButtonMapper 4.0
This is one of the very few apps that have a really decent and easy-to-grasp manual
. Its particular strength lies in its stylus macroing abilities and, what is even more important, the application-specific button assigning capabilities, in which, currently, is unique. (The other button enhancer app to do offer the same capabilities, buttonMax, currently (as of 10 / 16 / 2007) still isn’t compatible with WM5 and later operating systems, which means it’s useless on the vast majority of currently used handhelds.) Therefore, it’s highly recommended if you do need app-specific configurations – for example, number input for Opera Mini (more precisely, the MIDlet manager running Opera Mini) etc.
Don’t forget that, as has already been pointed out, the app-specific functionality doesn’t work with some programs; most importantly, Opera Mobile (as opposed to Opera Mini, which works just great together with Vito ButtonMapper when running under a compatible MIDlet manager – all MIDlet managers of Esmertec, TAO and, on some Windows Mobile models, IBM J9 – but not with Jblend). This, as has already been pointed out, is very bad news for all Opera Mobile users. If you plan to use Opera Mobile and want app-specific button assignments only active when running Opera in the background, you simply won’t be able to do this with the current, final version of Opera Mobile 8.65. Sorry. This is definitely not a bug in Vito ButtonMapper as the other, app-specific-capable app, buttonMax, can’t run Opera either (I’ve thoroughly tested this under WM2003).
As has also been mentioned, stylus tap emulation macros can also prove really useful. As has already been pointed out, you will want to read the “Scenarios for using with ButtonMapper” section in the VITO ButtonMapper manual
for some examples of how this can be utilized.
All in all, I highly recommend Vito ButtonMapper, particularly if you need either app-specific settings or stylus macros (or both). If you don’t need these functionalities at all, you may also want to check out the free PQzII, HButton or AEBPlus – they have different capabilities and may turn out to be better suited for your needs.
This app, in addition to HButton
, is the only app NOT to have an in-memory module but uses the default button handler, which is advantageous in some cases (see for example the cases of applications with local keypresses – for example, Resco or TCPMP). Otherwise, it is clearly inferior to the best, most recommended, and, what is more, free apps: PQzII, HButton or AEBPlus. As it doesn’t support app-specific settings either, it is inferior to VITO’s app, which costs the same.
Therefore, I only recommend this app if you MUST use an app that, as with HButton, uses the built-in Button handler infrastructure because of the incompatibility of other button enhancers with your specific apps having local button assignments. Otherwise, you should go for something better and/or free.
2.6 BtnPlus 0.21
(direct LZH link
This is a long-abandoned project not really working on any WM5+ devices I’ve tested it on. Therefore, you may only want to bother with using it if you have an SH3 Pocket PC 2000 device (a HP Jornada 525/54x). It has an English language tutorial for example HERE
2.7 buttonMax 2.10
This app, as of the (current) 2.10 version, doesn’t have support for WM5, which is a pity because, otherwise, it’s a real capable button enhancer with the same unique capabilities as VITO’s app.
2.8 Verdict – which one to choose?
The answer is pretty simple: one of the PQzII, HButton, AEBPlus
(which are all free; you can, of course, activate AEBPlus but the vast majority of the functionality is available even without doing so) or the commercial VITO ButtonMapper
. As these four apps have distinct feature sets, you must yourself decide what features you need and what you don’t. For example, if you only have one configurable button (and don’t want to override for example your phone / softkey buttons with AEBPlus) but want to assign at least 4-5 programs (or, in a broader sense, any functionality) to it, your best choice is HButton. If you need either stylus macros or app-specific button assignment capabilities, your only choice is VITO ButtonMapper (unless, of course, if you have a pre-WM5 device. Then, buttonMax may also be a nice choice.) If your handheld also has a built-in keyboard, you might find PQzII the best. Finally, in addition to its being one of the best Pocket PC button enhancers, MS Smartphone users will want to use AEBPlus as there’re no other button enhancers compatible with the platform.
3. Hands-on experience: Passing keypresses to Opera Mini / Mobile
Now, some advanced tools for all of you that wan to pass keycodes (that is, want to emulate the usage of any keyboard) to the running applications. This is, as has already been emphasized, VERY important for every Opera Mini and Mobile users not having access to a hardware dialpad or keyboard with easily accessible numeric keys.
As has been stated in almost all my previous, Web browsing-related articles (also) concerning Opera Mini and Opera Mobile, two top-notch Web browser applications (also) available for Windows Mobile devices, these browsers are best used on a touchscreen-less Smartphone (because they all have a numeric dialpad) or a Pocket PC with a numeric dialpad built-in. Examples are the latter are most ASUS models including the forthcoming, “HTC Kaiser-killer” P750 (see THIS
) or the forthcoming HTC Touch Dual
. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Pocket PC phones still lack a numeric keypad. While they, mostly, do incorporate (except for some rare and/or now-outdated cases like the P3300, P3600, P6300, the first Touch and the forthcoming P6500
) a slide-out keyboard, using it to control the two browsers is far from optimal (you need to slide them out, adding considerable bulk to your phone and/or making one-handed operation impossible).
Just an example of how cool these shortcuts are. Assume you want to quickly make Opera Mini full screen (or vice versa). You only need to press the * button twice in quick succession. No long, tiring menu traversing. The same stands for Opera Mobile: it also has some very useful features (quick switching between opened tabs, switching off/on pictures with a keypress; quick switching between the default and the desktop view etc) directly accessible from a dialpad button.
Unfortunately, neither Opera Mobile nor MIDlet managers (programs that run Opera Mini) can make use of the, during using these browsers, unused Pocket PC application keys. (I’ve long been telling the Opera Mobile folks to implement this functionality but, so far, they have had better things to do. Not that the competing browsers would all support configurable application buttons: the lack of support for this is still one of the biggest problems with even the latest previews of NetFront 3.4). It’s here that I come into the picture and explain exactly what you need to do.
Again, this tutorial only applies to you if you do NOT own a touchscreen-less MS Smartphone or a Pocket PC with a dialpad (or, if using the numeric keys on your full keyboard is OK with you – again, it wouldn’t be with me because of the awkwardness of slide-out keyboards, particularly when you browse the Web in Portrait mode).
In order to be able to assign at least the most important functionalities (for example, page up/down, quick selection list of active tabs, full screen vs. non-full screen mode etc) to the 4…7 (which can be doubled or even tripled with the tools I’ll also introduce) application buttons a typical Pocket PC has, do the following.
First and foremost, decide what they need to control. Do you need to control Opera Mobile