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Using Photon on a Network

This chapter tells you how to use Photon's connectivity facilities. Topics include:

In this chapter, we assume your Photon machine is a node on a QNX network. If not, then you won't be able to use the features discussed in this chapter. But feel free to continue reading to learn more about Photon's unique connectivity features for future reference.

Connectivity is a two-way street-the remote node you want to connect to must be running Photon. Also, you must have the appropriate filesystem permissions on the remote Photon device (i.e. /dev/photon). If you have only read (but not write) permission, then you can view but not interact with the remote Photon.

Note: For information about your filesystem permissions, see your system administrator.

Using the Message Pad

Photon includes a handy "sticky note" utility that lets you post a to-do list or free-form text message on your workspace. You can also pass the note to another Photon user.

Posting a note to yourself

To post a note on your workspace:

  1. In the Applications folder, click on the Message Pad icon:

    Figure showing Message Pad icon

    You'll see a bright yellow note, like this:

    Figure showing blank note

    If you want to move the note on your workspace, put your pointer in the title bar and drag the note wherever you want-it will stick when you release the mouse button.

    To resize the note, simply grab the resize corner (bottom right) and drag the note in the direction you want to shrink or stretch it.

  2. To put a title on your note, click on the title bar. The I-beam pointer appears, waiting for you to type your title.
  3. When you've finished your title, press Tab to go to the message area. Now you can start typing your message.
    Note: The Message Pad facility doesn't save messages. As soon as you close the Message Pad, the contents of your messages disappear.

  4. To close the Message Pad, click on its menu button (top left), then click on Close.

    The menu button also contains a convenient Tips item if you need help.

Sending a message to another user

Suppose you were using the Message Pad to jot down some important design ideas, and you wanted your teammate to see what you just wrote. Instead of shouting "Hey Betty, come and see this!" (not very effective, especially if her office is on another floor), you could simply send your sticky note right to Betty's screen.

When Betty gets your note, she could forward it-along with her annotations-to Fred's screen. And so on.

Note: Although you'll find Message Pad quite useful, it's not meant to be a substitute for email; it lacks (among other things) the record-keeping functions of a true email system.

To send a message to another Photon user:

  1. Click on the Send/Forward button on your sticky note (bottom left). You'll be prompted for a name.
  2. Type the name of the person you're sending your note to and press Enter. You'll be prompted for a node number.
  3. Type the node number and press Enter. Your note will instantly appear on the recipient's current workspace.

Note: After you've entered a name/node pair, the Message Pad saves this information so that next time you can just type the person's name and the message will be transported immediately.

If you try to send the message to a person who isn't running Photon, the note will stay on your screen and won't be transported.

You can also type a node number in the Name field if you're sending a one-time message and there's no need to save the person's name.

The recipient will see:

To reply to the sender's message:

  1. Type your comments immediately below the title bar.
  2. When you're ready to send your reply, click on the Return-to-sender button.

To forward a message to another user, simply add your comments in the message area and then click on the Send/Forward button (bottom left). You'll be prompted to enter the user's name in the Fwd: box.

Sending messages back and forth from one user to another may seem somewhat simplistic. But imagine being able to send applications! Photon's unique Jump Gate connectivity is akin to the transport technology at work in the Message Pad utility, but on a much larger and more powerful scale.

Exploring Jump Gates

A Jump Gate is a transport link (either LAN or modem) between computers. You can send a Photon application running on your workspace to another user's workspace, making Jump Gates ideal for worksharing or "groupware" applications.

Jump Gates are also the perfect tool for remote diagnostics and technical support. You can go though a Jump Gate in order to "be" at another user's workspace, so you can see and control the application that's running there.

Sending an application through a Jump Gate

To send an application to another user:

  1. With the application open on your workspace, click on the Jump Gate icon in the Utilities folder:

    Figure showing Jump Gate icon

    The icon becomes an animated image.

  2. Click on the window of the application you want to send. You'll see a dialog box asking for the Transport Node. Enter the destination node number.
  3. Click on the Done button. The window becomes an animated image that "goes through" the Jump Gate icon! Your application is now "at" its destination. The other user now has complete control over the application and is free to use it, return it to you, or shut it down.
  4. To return the application, the recipient must click on the Return-to-sender button in the application's title bar.

Caution: Although the application window disappears from your workspace when you send an application, the application itself is still running on your machine and will die if you power down.

Setting up predefined Jump Gates

For quick, convenient jumps, you can set up node-specific Jump Gates in order to bypass the Transport Node dialog.

When you set up a node-specific Jump Gate, you'll create a new icon in the Applications tab. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Configuration tool on the Desktop Manager.
  2. Click on the small Jump Gate button.
  3. Click on the Jump Gate Name field and type the name you want to give this node-specific Jump Gate. For example, "Betty."
  4. Press Tab to move to the next field (Photon node or device).
  5. Type the destination node number and press Tab.
    Note: To ensure speed, it's a good idea to enter a fully qualified path for the node number. For example: //250/dev/photon.

  6. Click on the Add button. For each new Jump Gate you want to set up, repeat steps 2 through 6.
  7. When you've finished adding new Jump Gates, click on the Save & Close button. You'll see your new Jump Gate icons appear in the Applications folder in the Desktop Manager bar.

"Dittoing" a remote Photon display

If you've used QNX before, you may be familiar with the Ditto utility, which lets you view and interact with a remote user's text-based applications. Photon provides a graphical Ditto that lets you view and interact with another Photon user's display.

In Photon, sending an application to another user and dittoing another user are similar-both operations use Jump Gates as the transport link. But there's a difference: When you send, you're sending a single application to another user; when you ditto another user, you're interacting with the other user's entire screen, which may have several applications up and running!

To ditto another Photon user's display:

  1. Click twice on the Jump Gate icon.
    Note: If you click twice on a node-specific Jump Gate, then you won't be prompted for a node number.

  2. Enter the node number of the user whose screen you want to ditto.

You're now "at" the remote user's workspace. You can now share the remote workspace with the remote user (provided you have the appropriate permissions).

For more information see the phditto utility, and the section on "Viewing/Using remote Photon sessions" in the Configuring Photon chapter, in the Photon Installation & Configuration guide.

To end your ditto session, press Alt -F4 simultaneously.

Running remote Photon applications

From within Microsoft Windows

Phindows, an optional Photon product, lets you run the Photon environment as an application on the MS-Windows desktop.

How does Phindows work?

Phindows lets you interact with Photon from MS-Windows by means of a utility called phrelay.

The phrelay utility captures Photon draw events and relays them across a transport such as TCP/IP or a serial line. Phindows, which resides on the target system, takes the incoming phrelay protocol commands and then uses MS-Windows draw routines to display on the MS-Windows desktop.

Who doesn't use MS-Windows?

If you're a Photon developer, your customers may be wedded to MS-Windows. That's okay, because if you have Phindows, they can keep Windows!

You can take advantage of Phindows yourself. For example, let's say you often use a word processor or spreadsheet package under MS-Windows. If you use NFS or SMB to cross-connect your MS-Windows and QNX filesystems, you could then use Phindows to edit, compile, and even test your Photon applications right from your MS-Windows machine!

From within the X Window System

PhinX, an optional Photon product, lets you run the Photon environment as an application on the X Window System. As a result, you can take full advantage of the rich variety of tools available under X as you develop or use your Photon applications.

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