epgsearch - Man Page

Searchtimer and replacement of the VDR program menu


EPG-Search can be used as a replacement for the default schedules menu entry. It looks like the standard schedules menu, but adds some additional functions:

 - Commands for EPG entries with 5 built-in commands like 'show repeats',
   'create search'. One can add own commands for other needs, like adding a
   VDRAdmin auto-timer.

 - Add up to 4 user-defined times to 'now' and 'next' and an optional
   favorites menu

 - Searching the EPG: Create reusable queries, which can also be used
   as 'search timers'.

 - Search timers: Search for broadcasts in the background and add a
   timer if one matches (similar to VDRAdmin's auto-timers) or simply
   make an announcement about it via OSD

 - Avoid double recordings of the same event
   * timer preview
   * recognition of broken recordings
   * fuzzy event comparison

 - Progress bar in 'What's on now' and 'What's on next'

 - Shift the time displayed by key press, e.g. 'What's on now' + 30 minutes

 - Start menu can be setup between 'Schedule' or 'What's on now'

 - background check for timer conflicts with a timer conflict manager

 - detailed EPG menu (summary) allows jumping to the next/previous

 - support for extended EPG info for search timers

 - extension of the timer edit menu with a directory item, user
   defined weekday selection and a subtitle completion.

 - Timer conflict check, informs you over the OSD about conflicts

 - Timer conflict menu, show detailed information about the conflicts
   and let you resolve them

 - Email notifications about search timer updates and timer conflicts

Parts of the sources are based on the repeating-ECG patch from Gerhard Steiner, who gave me the permission to use them. Thanks for his work!


-f file,  --svdrpsendcmd=file

the path to svdrpsend for external SVDRP communication (default is internal communication, so this is usually not needed anymore)

-c path,  --config=path

to specify a specific config directory for all epgsearch config files, default is '<plugins configuration directory>/epgsearch'

-l file,  --logfile=file

to specify a specific log file for epgsearch (default log file is epgsearch.log in the epgsearch config directory)

-v n,  --verbose=n

verbose level for log file. Value 0 means no logging. Other values are 1 (general messages), 2 (detailed messages), 3 (planned for extra detailed info for debugging purposes)

-r,  --reloadmenuconf

reload epgsearchmenu.conf with plugin call. This can be useful when testing customized menu layouts.

-m file,  --mailcmd=file

the external command to be used for mail delivery. The default uses 'sendEmail.pl'. If you are using a different command or script make sure that it has the same parameter interface as sendEmail.pl.


 1.    Description
 1.1     Menu commands
 1.2     Menu search
 1.2.1     Menu edit search
 1.2.2     Menu search results
 1.3     Extended 'now' and 'next'
 1.4     Menu setup
 2.    Search timers
 2.1     'Avoid repeats' - internals
 2.2     How do we compare two events?
 2.3     How and when do we compare?
 3.    Usage from other plugins or scripts
 4.    Using extended EPG info
 5.    Replacing the standard schedule menu
 6.    Add-ons

1. Description

At first glance EPG-Search looks like the schedules menu entry of VDR. By pressing the key '0', one can toggle the bottom color keys to access additional functions (the default assignment of the color keys can be adjusted by setup):

1.1 Menu Commands

This menu displays commands that can be executed on the current item. There are 8 built-in commands:

 - Repeats: Searches for repeats

 - Record

 - Switch

 - Create search
   Switches to search menu and adds a new search with the name of the current
   item (to avoid editing the name manually)

 - Search in recordings:
   Search the recordings for a broadcast with the same name

 - Mark as 'already recorded':
   This puts the selected event into the file epgsearchdone.data and instructs
   epgsearch to avoid recording this event if an according search timer is set
   to "avoid repeats". An already created timer will be automatically removed
   with the next search timer update.

 - Add/Remove to/from switch list?:
   Controls the switch list. If there is an event in the switch list, epgsearch
   will announce it and switch to the event before it starts. To access the
   complete switch list, call 'Search/Actions/Switch list'.

 - Create blacklist:
   A blacklist is used to ignore events when using search timers. A search
   timer can be setup to ignore events from arbitrary blacklists.

You can add your own commands to this menu by editing the file epgsearchcmds.conf in the epgsearch config directory. There's a sample conf file with some sample commands (see directory 'scripts', taken from vdr-wiki.de, thanks to the authors).

The format of the file is the same as VDR's commands.conf or reccmds.conf. When a command is executed the following parameters are passed to it:

 $1: the title of the EPG entry
 $2: the start time of the EPG entry as time_t value (like in the
     shutdown script)
 $3: the end time
 $4: the channel number of the EPG entry
 $5: the long channel name of the EPG entry
 $6: the subtitle of the EPG entry, "" if not present

To execute a command from the main menu you can also press its associated number without opening the commands menu.

1.3 Extended 'now' and 'next' and favorites

By setup, one can add up to 4 additional times to extend the green button, e.g. 'afternoon', 'prime time', 'late night'. Times, that are already passed, are skipped (you will not get 'afternoon' at evening) with the exception that a time will be displayed for the next day, if it is less then 20h in the future. In these menus you can shift the currently displayed time by pressing FastRew or FastFwd to move back and forward in time. If you don't have these keys on your remote, you can access this function by pressing '0' to toggle the green and yellow button to '<<' and '>>'. This toggling can be adjusted by setup.

You can display a progress bar in 'now' and 'next'.

Furthermore you can enable in the setup an favorites list. You can configure your searchtimers ("Use in favorite list") to display their results in you favorite list. This list display event in the next 24 hours ordered by time.

1.4 Menu setup

1.4.1 General

- Hide main menu entry:

This hides the main menu entry 'search'. Attention: when the plugin is assigned to key 'green' then hiding the plugin will give you VDR's standard schedule menu (see below to avoid this).

- Main menu entry:

If not hidden, the name of main menu entry can be set here. Default is 'Program guide'. Note: If you set it to something different from the default then the main menu entry is no longer dependent on the OSD language. Setting it back to default or empty restores this behavior again.

- Start menu:

Select the starting menu 'Schedules' or 'Now'

1.4.2 EPG menus

- Ok key:

Choose here the behavior of key 'Ok'. You can use it to display the summary or to switch to the corresponding channel. Note: the functionality of key 'blue' (Switch/Info/Search) depends on this setting.

- Red key:

Select if you like to have Standard ('Record') or 'Commands' as assignment for key 'red'.

- Blue key:

select if you like to have Standard ('Switch') or 'Search' as assignment for key 'blue'.

- Show progress in 'Now':

In the menu 'what's on now' you can display a progress bar, that displays the progress of the current item.

- Show channel numbers:

Select this if you like to have a leading channel number before each item in the EPG menus.

- Show channel separators:

Display channel group separators between channel in the menus 'Overview now',...

- Show day separators:

Display a day separator between events on different days in the schedule menu.

- Show radio channels:

Also list radio channels.

- Limit channels from 1 to:

If you have a large channel set you can speed up things when you limit the displayed channels with this setting. Use '0' to disable the limit. If the current channel is above the limit, the limit is ignored and all channels will be displayed again.

- 'One press' timer creation:

If set to 'yes' a timer is immediately created when pressing 'Record', else the timer edit menu is displayed.

- Show channels without EPG:

Display channels without EPG to allow switching or create a timer.

- Time interval for FR/FF [min]:

In the menus 'now', 'next', 'user def 1', ... you can shift the displayed time by pressing FastRew, FastFwd on your remote control. Adjust the amount of minutes to jump here.

- Toggle Green/Yellow:

If you don't have FastRew, FastFwd on your remote control, set this to yes. When pressing '0' in the menus, this toggles the assignment of the color keys and assigns e.g. '<<' and '>>' to 'green' and 'yellow'.

- Show favorites menu:

A favorites menu can display a list of your favorite broadcasts. Enable this if you want an additional menu besides 'Now' and 'Next'. You can choose between displaying this menu before or after the menus with user-defined times. Any search can be used as a favorite. You only have to set the option 'Use in favorites menu' when editing a search.

- for the next ... hours:

This value lets you adjust the timespan used to display the favorites.

1.4.3 User-defined EPG times

- Use user time 1..4:

Add up to 4 user-defined times besides 'now' and 'next'.

- Description:

Name of the user-defined time, e.g. 'Afternoon', 'Prime time', 'Late night'.

- Time:

The associated time of the user-defined time.

1.4.4 Timer programming

- Use VDR's timer edit menu:

When programming a standard timer epgsearch uses an extended menu, that also supports a directory item, user defined weekday selection and subtitle completion. If you are using a patched version of VDR, that also has an extended timer edit menu and like to use this menu rather than epgsearch's then set this option to 'Yes'.

- Default recording directory:

This entry will be used in standard timer programming as default directory. You can also use EPG category variables (e.g. 'My Movies~%Category%~%Genre%'). When the timer edit menu is launched epgsearch tries to replace all variables with the values found in the description of the event. If not all variables could be replaced then the directory item is left blank.

- Add episode to manual timers:

When manually adding a timer epgsearch can automatically add the episode name to the timer file resulting in a sub-folder for the later recording, that is named with the episode name. Choose here how this should be done. 'smart' tries to recognize if this makes sense. Therefore it checks the length of the event and skips the subtitle if the event has more than 80min.

- Default timer check method:

Manual timers can be checked for EPG changes. Here you can setup the default check method for each channel. The following methods exist:
  * no check
  * by event ID: checks by an event ID supplied by the channel provider.
  * by channel and time: check by the duration match.

Not all channels provide a proper event ID, so you can setup the default for each channel here. When programming a manual timer, this default use used in epgsearch's own timer edit menu.

1.4.5 Search and search timers

- Use search timers:

If yes, the plugin makes a background scan of the EPG and adds timers if it finds matching entries. This applies only to searches that are marked with 'use as search timer'.

Search timers will always be created local, even if SVDRPDefaulthost is set to a different host.

- Update interval:

The update interval of the background scan for search timers in minutes.

- SVDRP port:

For VDR versions through 1.7.14, the default SVDRP port was 2001. Starting with vdr-1.7.15 it was changed to 6419. If you want to use a port other than the default, set it here to get the search timers working.

- Delay threads:

The start of the Searchtimer-Update Thread and the following Conflict check can be delayed after VDR-Ready between 0 and 300 seconds (Default is 10 secs).

- Default Priority:

Default priority of generated timers.

- Default Lifetime:

Default lifetime of generated timers.

- Margin at start/stop:

Default margins of generated timers.

- Allowed Errors:

Allowed errors before a recording is marked as incomplete. (not available in vdr 2.4)

- No announcements when replaying:

suppress event announcements while any replay is active.

- Recreate timers after deletion:

epgsearch remembers by default which timers where already created by search timers and will not recreate them if they were removed. To disable this behaviour set this to 'Yes'.

- Check if EPG exists for ... [h]:

If you get EPG content from external providers it is possible, that something fails and some recordings are skipped because of the missing EPG. With this function one can check if EPG content exists for the next ... hours. With '0' the check is disabled.

- Warn by OSD:

Set this to 'Yes' to get warned via OSD.

- Warn by mail:

Set this to 'Yes' to get warned by email. Please configure the email account in 'email notification'

- Channel group to check:

select hier the channel group to check. Perhaps you have to create it before in 'channel groups'

- Ignore Pay-TV channels:

Set this to 'Yes' if you don't want to have events from Pay-TV channels when searching for a repeat.

- Search templates:

Here you can manage search templates which can be used when creating a search.

- Blacklists:

Here you can manage blacklists which can be used to suppress unwanted events within a search. A blacklist can also be marked as global. Since the default setting of a search timer for 'use blacklists' is 'only global', this is a simple way to exclude unwanted events form all search timers, except: If the search timer has the option 'use blacklists: none' no blacklists are taken into account. Also the search for repeats within the OSD ignores any blacklists.

- Channel groups:

Here you can setup channel groups (e.g. Sport channels, Pay-TV channels) that can be used as criterion in  searches. The same can be done in the search edit menu.

Important: if you get your EPG from external sources make sure that search timer updates are disabled while your EPG is updated. The reason for this is that epgsearch will remove timers without events assigned to them. This situation can exist while the new EPG is feeded to VDR. A simple way to disable search timer updates is to use the SVDRP command SETS in your EPG update script:

svdrpsend plug epgsearch SETS off

<your EPG update script>

svdrpsend plug epgsearch SETS on

1.4.6 Timer conflict checking

- Ignore below priority:

If a timer will fail with a priority below the given value, you won't get an OSD message about this and the conflict will be classified as 'not relevant' in the conflicts overview.

- Ignore conflict duration less ... min.:

If a conflict will last only the given minutes it will not produce an OSD message and the conflict will be classified as 'not relevant' in the conflicts overview.

- Only check within next ... days:

Here you can specify the day range that should be used for the conflict check.

- Check also remote conflicts:

If SVDRPPeering is active, conflicts for remote timers will be checked, if set to "yes". For this to work epgseach-plugin has to be active on the remote host too. Default is "no".

- After each timer programming:

This performs a conflict check after each manual timer programming and - if the new/modified timer is involved in a conflict - pops up an OSD message about it.

- "When a recording starts:

Set this to 'yes' if the conflict check should be performed when a recording starts. In the case of a conlfict you get immediately a message that informs you about it. The message is only displayed if the conflict is within the next 2 hours.

- After each search timer update:

Specify here if you want to have a conflict check after each search timer update. If set to 'No':

- every ... minutes:

performs a conflict check in the background every ... minutes and informs about relevant conflicts via OSD. Set this to '0' to disable this feature.

- if conflicts within next ... minutes:
  • every ... minutes:

    if you like to have a more frequent check and OSD notification when a conflict appears within the given time, use this feature.

- Avoid notification when replaying:

Set this to 'yes' if the don't want to get OSD messages about conflicts if you currently replay something. Nevertheless messages will be displayed if
the first upcoming conflict is within the next 2 hours.

Also have a look at epgsearch(4), section 'Working with the timer conflict menu'.

1.4.7 Email notification

Please make sure, that 'sendEmail.pl' is in the path of your executables and that the 'epgsearchupdmail.templ' and 'epgsearchconflmail.templ' exists in epgsearch's configurations directory!

- Search timer notification:

Enable this, if you want to get an email notification, when the search timer background thread has

  - created a new timer
  - modified an existing timer
  - deleted a timer, that was void because of EPG changes or other user

(Also requires 'Use search timers' in the search timer setup to be activated.)

- Time between mails [h]:

For search timer notifications one can set the minimum distance in hours between the mails. As soon as this time has elapsed a new mail is sent after the next search timer update. A value of '0' means no delay and will cause immediate mail delivery.

- Timer conflict notification:

Enable this, if you want to get an email notification about timer conflicts. The notification will only include 'relevant' conflicts as specified in the timer conflict setup. epgsearch will always send a new notification if there is any change in the current conflicts.

(Also requires 'After each search timer update' or 'every ... minutes' in the conflict check setup to be activated.)

- Send to:

The mail address of the recipient. Note: Some providers (like Arcor) don't allow the same address for sender and recipient.

- Mail method:

You can choose between:

  - sendEmail.pl: this is a simply script shipped with epgsearch, that allows
    mail delivery also on systems without a configured mail server. Please
    copy it to your $PATH
  - sendmail: requires a properly configured mail system
- Email address:

Your full(!) email account address to be used for sending the mail.

- SMTP server:

The name of your SMTP server to be used for sending the mails.

- Use SMTP authentication:

Select 'yes' if your account needs authentication to send mails.

- AUTH user:

Specify the accounts username if your account needs authentication.

- AUTH password:

Specify the accounts password if your account needs authentication. Note: The password is saved as plain text. You have to make sure on your own that your system is safe and no VDR configurations files are visible to non authorized persons.

After the account setup, check if it works with 'Test'. If you are using 'sendEmail.pl' for mail delivery, there should be something like 'Email sent successfully' at the end of the test output. The test function is not available for method 'sendmail'.

Also have a look at epgsearch(4), section 'Email notifications'.

2. Search timers

This is quite the same as VDRAdmin's auto-timers, but needs no external software. When you create a search, you can give it an option to use it as search timer. Now the plugin scans EPG entries in certain update intervals (->setup) in the background and creates timers if there are matching entries. If you don't like to get a new timer, but only want to be informed about the event set 'Announce only (no timer)' to yes. Since these search timers are quite useful for serials, you can set the  option 'serial recording' in a search, which creates timers whose recordings are stored in a folder with the serials name and whose entries are named with the episode name. If there is no episode name, the plugin names the recording with a date/time string.

To use search timers, you also have to activate them in the plugins setup. Also edit the SVDRP port, if you are not using the default 2001.

If you want to trigger a background scan manually simply

touch /etc/vdr/plugins/epgsearch/.epgsearchupdate

This can also be part of your shutdown script. (Add here a sleep afterwards to give the plugin the time to finish the scan.)

For more info about searchtimers please refer to epgsearch(4), 'Description of the search process' and 'How do Search Timers work?'

2.1 'Avoid repeats' - internals

This section explains the feature 'Avoid repeats' for a search timer. Sometimes one cannot avoid double recordings of an event only by setting the corresponding search criterions.

Therefore the feature 'avoid repeats' tries to check before creating a timer, if the same event was already recorded in the past or if there is a timer that records the same event. If so, there will be no new timer for the event.

2.2 How do we compare two events?

To check if two events are the same there are many possible settings for a search timer. You can choose the title, subtitle, description or extended EPG categories within the description of an event to be compared with the elements of another event.

This comparison is always done case-sensitive and for the whole term. But the description of an event makes an exception of this. First all text within the description will be truncated that looks like an extended category entry, e.g. 'Rating: tip'. An extended category entry is a line of text beginning with max. 40 signs, followed by ':' and ending with max. 60 further signs. The reason for this cutting is that some categories like the rating of an event are not part of the description of the repeat of the same event.

The remaining text will now be compared by length. If the difference is bigger then 90%, then we rate the description of the two events as different. If not, we apply the Levinsthein-Distance-Algorithm (LD), which makes a fuzzy text comparison. We accept the description of the events as equal, if LD returns a match of more then 90%. Since LD is quite runtime intensive (O(mn)), you should not choose 'compare description' as the only comparison criterion, but combine it always with other criterions.

2.3 How and when do we compare?

As already mentioned each search timer update checks search timers with this feature for recordings in the past or an already existing timer for the same event.

To remember past recordings epgsearch stores their info in the file epgsearchdone.data. You can have a look at the contents of this file calling 'show recordings done' in the 'actions' of the searches menu. This file only stores info about recordings that are complete, i.e. that started and stopped just in time. So a broken recording will not be stored in this file and epgsearch will automatically try to record the next repeat, if there is any. Starting with vdr 2.5.x also recordings with errors are not stored. If you would like to allow a certain amount of errors, you can raise the value of "Allowd Errors".

How to use it?

As you see, the whole feature depends on the quality of the EPG. After creating such a search timer, you should first check if it does what is intended. Therefore the menu of search results has an additional mode for the key 'blue' named 'Timer preview'. Here you can see, what timers the next update would create. Existing timers are labeled with 'T', future timers with 'P'.

Hint: If the programming results in a conflict simply disable the conflicting timer in the timers menu. The next search timer update, will try to program a different timer for the same event, if it exists.

When it works not correctly :-)

To get a better control of the programming or not-programming of the timers when using this feature a log file was introduced. When starting epgsearch with the command line option '-v n' where n is the log level than you get additional info in the file epgsearch.log. Available log levels are 0 (no logging) to 3 (extended logging). See also the manual for the command line options.

3. Usage from other plugins or scripts

See epgsearch(4).

4. Using extended EPG info

Some EPG providers deliver additional EPG information like the type of event, the video and audio format, cast,... in the content summary.

Note: This is different from the content descriptors introduced in vdr-1.7.11, that are delivered as extra data with a common standard. Unfortunately not all providers deliver this data, or the set wrong descriptors. So you can use the approach of 'extended EPG info' here, which is a way to extract that info from the content summary.

Using tvm2vdr or epg4vdr you can import this into vdr. To use this information with search timers one has to configure it with the file epgsearchcats.conf in the epgsearch config directory. The format of the file is as follows:

 ID|category name|name in menu|values separated by ','(option)|search mode(option)

 - 'ID' should be a unique positive integer
    (changing the id later on will force you to re-edit your search timers!)
 - 'category name' is the name as delivered by the EPG provider, e.g. 'Genre'
 - 'name in menu' is the name displayed in epgsearch.
 - 'values' is an optional list of possible values
 - 'search mode' specifies the search mode:
   text comparison:
   0 - the whole term must appear as substring
   1 - all single terms (delimiters are ',', ';', '|' or '~')
       must exist as substrings. This is the default search mode.
   2 - at least one term (delimiters are ',', ';', '|' or '~')
       must exist as substring.
   3 - matches exactly
   4 - regular expression
   numerical comparison:
   10 - less
   11 - less or equal
   12 - greater
   13 - greater or equal
   14 - equal
   15 - not equal

Sample files for epgsearchcats.conf are delivered with the plugin in the directory 'conf'.

Simply copy the one that fits for you to the epgsearch configuration directory filename epgsearchcats.conf and then have a look to the search timers edit menu (after a restart of VDR).

Since setting up a new epgsearchcats.conf is a lot of work, I've added a small tool 'createcats', that makes the biggest part of the job. It should have been compiled with the plugin and exists in the sources directory.

See createcats(1) for information about how to use it.

Internals: epgsearch scans the summary of an event for the category name followed by ': ' for all categories that have a corresponding value set in the search timer. The search is case sensitive regarding the category name as also the value.

5. Replacing the standard schedule menu

To use this plugin as a replacement for the default green key, simply put the line

 Green   @epgsearch

in your keymacros.conf. If you don't like to get another plugin entry in your main menu, first hide it by setup. Then you could use my launcher-plugin and put the line

 Green @launcher x

in your keymacros.conf, where x is the position of the Epgsearch plugin within launchers menu listing.

Another approach is using a patch to VDR that replaces vdr's standard schedule menu with epgsearch (vdr-replace-schedulemenu.diff.gz in the patches subdir, thanks to the author Uwe/egal@vdrportal). When using this patch the entry should look like

 Green Schedule

This patch is already included in some patch collections, like the Bigpatch.

6. Add-ons

epgsearch delivers 2 'mini'-plugins. Both require an installed epgsearch (but epgsearch can be hided in the main menu):

- epgsearchonly:

For those who only want to use the search feature and/or search timers or simply want to have a separate main menu entry for the search feature. This plugin creates a main menu entry 'Search' which calls epgsearch search menu. Activation in VDR start script with "-Pepgsearchonly".

- conflictcheckonly:

The timer conflict check can also have its own main menu entry which displays epgsearch conflict overview menu. It has a setup option to display an information about the last check directly in its main menu entry. Activation in VDR start script with "-Pconflictcheckonly".

Have fun!

Christian Wieninger

Advanced description

See epgsearch(4) or read online




See Also

epgsearch.conf(5), epgsearchcats.conf(5), epgsearchcmds.conf(5), epgsearchdirs.conf(5), epgsearchmenu.conf(5), epgsearchuservars.conf(5), epgsearchdone.data(5), epgsearchswitchtimer.conf(5), epgsearchblacklists.conf(5), epgsearchchangrps.conf(5)



Searchtimers. See epgsearch.conf(5).


Categories, advanced epg. See epgsearchcats.conf(5).


EPG-commands, like the commands in commands.conf. See epgsearchcmds.conf(5).


Pre-defined patches which can be selected while editing an searchtimer. See epgsearchdirs.conf(5).


Configuration of the OSD menu layout. See epgsearchmenu.conf(5).


User defined variables. See epgsearchuservars.conf(5).


The done-data. See epgsearchdone.data(5).


The switchtimers. See epgsearchswitchtimer.conf(5).


The blacklist. See epgsearchblacklists.conf(5).


The channelgroups. See epgsearchchangrps.conf(5).


Templates for searchtimers. See epgsearchtemplates.conf(5).

AUTHOR (man pages)

Mike Constabel <epgsearch (at) constabel (dot) net>

Report Bugs

Bugreports (german):




Referenced By

createcats(1), epgsearch(4), epgsearchblacklists.conf(5), epgsearchcats.conf(5), epgsearchchangrps.conf(5), epgsearchcmds.conf(5), epgsearch.conf(5), epgsearchdirs.conf(5), epgsearchmenu.conf(5), epgsearchswitchtimers.conf(5), epgsearchtemplates.conf(5), epgsearchuservars.conf(5), noannounce.conf(5), timersdone.conf(5).

2023-07-22 perl v5.38.0 Epgsearch Version 2.4.1