VIAL Programming Guide
VIAL is an open source keyboard firmware configurator. The offical website for VIAL is https://get.vial.today. VIAL is used for the Pikatea Macropad GB2, Pikatea Macropad GB3, and Macropad1x5.
To get started, download VIAL from the official website here https://get.vial.today. Download and install the latest version (Currently Beta 0.3).
After VIAL is installed, open the program.
Make sure your device is connected, and click "refresh". The program will automatically detect all VIAL compatible devices connected. If you have multiple devices, you can cycle them with the drop down at the top. Make sure the device you want is selected and the layout matches.
Note: For the Pikatea Macropad GB3, 7 keys will be shown regardless if you have a 3-key, 5-key, or 7-key configuration. The extra keys will simply not work if they are not physically present.
Here is a basic diagram of the program and some terminology. It's self explanatory which is nice.
Making Simple Changes
Let's make some simple changes to the function of a button. After all, that's why you're here!
- Select the button you would like to change in the layout above. In this case, I want to change "Media Play" to something else so I've selected it.
- Select the button you'd like in the list of buttons shown below. You can select from a full range of actions. Use the tabs to find Media keys, backlighting, and layer toggling. In this case, I want the button to "Copy" so I selected the "App, Media, and Mouse" and then I selected the "Copy" button. The button immediately updates too!
Configuring a Macro or Hotkey
Macros and Hotkeys are the bread and butter of macropads. Use one button to push a sequence of buttons (macro) or use one button to press multiple buttons at the same time (hotkey). Both are configured in a similar way!
- Switch to the Macro Tab and select a Macro (M0 through M15). In this case, I've selected M0 because it's the first macro I'm making but any will work.
- The next step is to add actions. In the bottom right corner, you can "add and action", "Tap Enter" (which is a shortcut for a commonly used action), "Record Macro", "Save" and "Revert". Use the first 3 buttons to create and add actions.
- Add action: Manually adds an action to the list. Configure it to do exactly what you want. select from different options - hold, tap, release, and delay.
- Tap Enter: Lots of macros end with an "Enter" key so this button makes it easier to add that.
- Record macro: Lets you record the macro directly from your keyboard. It's not the most reliable but it a great place to start.
- Save the macro and assign it to a button. Click "save" to save the macro. Then go to the "Keymap" tab and under "macro" you can select the macro you just made to activate with a button
Example Macros for common applications
- Hotkey to open Windows Task Manager
- Launch a program on Windows. (Open windows menu, type visual studio code, and launch the program. Notice the use of delays to ensure each action is registered on a slower computer.)
If your device supports backlighting (Macropad1x5), you can add the keys from the Backlight section to control it:
Using Layers allows you to expand the functionality of your device to a new layer..pun intended! Each layer can have different actions configured. Layer 0 could have all your media controls, layer 1 could have macros, and layer 2 could have something else!
Under the Layers section, you'll see a bunch of abbreviations for each layer function. Each one is outline below. "layer" represents the layer you want, ex 0, 1, 2.
- MO(layer) - momentarily activates the layer. As soon as you let go of the key, the layer is deactivated.
- DF(layer) - changes which layer is the default layer. This stays until the device loses power.
- TG(layer) - toggles the layer, activating it if it's inactive and vice versa.
- TT(layer) - If you hold the key down, the layer is activated, and then is de-activated when you let go (like
MO). If you repeatedly tap it, the layer will be toggled on or off (like
TG). It needs 5 taps to do this.
- OSL(layer) - momentarily activates the layer until the next key is pressed.
- LT layer (kc) - momentarily activates the layer when it is held, sends a keycode when pressed. The keycode can be defined like all the other buttons, Just select the smaller box inside.
Here is an example of a macropad configured to use layers. Layer 0 looks like this.
layer 1 looks like this
Notice that layer 0 has a button configured to momentarily change to layer 1 when it is held down with MO(1). If the button is held down, all the other buttons and functions change because the actions on that layer are different.
Also notice the triangle symbols. Those mean the action is the same as the layer below it. Also called transparency. This means that in this case the first button will always active M0 regardless if the device is on layer 0 or layer 1
More Tips and Tricks with VIAL
- Save your configuration with File -> Save current layout so that you don't accidently loose it
- Use the different layers to maximize the amount of function your device can do
- Hover over a button to read the tooltip which can tell you useful information about what it does
- Need more help with VIAL? Join the VIAL discord channel and ask specific questions.
Questions? Reach out to us on discord!