Effect Internals

Effects could refer to one of the following:

  • Hardware - provided by the firmware or backend. These usually persist across power cycles.
  • Software - powered by Polychromatic and require the backend to be running.

Hardware Effects


Availablity of effects and parameters vary on the hardware’s firmware.

Effect Parameters / Notes  
Wave Direction <1-2>  
Reactive Speed <1-4> and 1 colour  
Ripple Random or 1 colour Software effect provided by daemon
Breath Random or 1, 2 or 3 colour(s)  
Static 1 colour  
Pulsate 1 colour  
Blinking 1 colour  

Some Razer firmware retain hardware effects across power cycles and when plugged into other computers. Similarly, when software effects are used, the last frames may be retained across power cycles. However, newer firmware may default to an effect until OpenRazer and/or Polychromatic has started.

Software Effects

Like with any RGB application, Polychromatic works with its own format for storing “software effects”. Polychromatic stores them as JSON files in ~/.config/polychromatic/effects/, enabling the possibility to import and export from/to other applications.

Writing effects in this software will work on any supported backend where the device is compatible with individually addressable LEDs (matrix) and can be set to work within specifications (for example, a scripted effect that should only be played on keyboards)

There are three types:

ID Type Purpose
1 Layered Each layer describes how to display a specified range of LEDs
2 Scripted Programmable effects written in Python
3 Sequence Animated (or static) effect based on pixels and frames

Users previously running v0.3.12 will have their “application profiles” converted to Layered effects.

Effects can be edited via the main “Controller” application.

When playing effects, the polychromatic-helper runs as a process for each device. To avoid two processes controlling the device at the same time, lock files are placed in the run directory (based on the XDG spec, which is usually /run/user/$PID/polychromatic).

Common Metadata

All effects use JSON files to describe the effect and additional data depending on the type of effect.

Every effect consists of the following:

    "name": "Example Effect",
    "name[fr_FR]": "Exemple d'effet",
    "type": 1,
    "author": "octocat",
    "author_has_github": true,
    "icon": "ui/img/emblems/lamp.svg",
    "summary": "This is an example effect",
    "summary[fr_FR]": "Ceci est un exemple d'effet",
    "map_device": "Razer BlackWidow Chroma",
    "map_graphic": "blackwidow_m_keys_en_GB.svg",
    "save_format": 8,
    "revision": 1,
Key Data Type Purpose
name str Name of effect (English)
name[fr] str Name of effect (other language, e.g. fr)
type int Internal effect type
author str Full name or username of creator
author_url str Optional URL to author, e.g. GitHub profile
icon str Relative path to icon (from data directory or user’s custom_icons folder), or absolute path to a custom icon.
summary str Brief description (English)
summary[fr] str Brief description (other language, e.g. fr)
map_device str Name of the device that will play this effect. For scripted effects, leave empty.
map_graphic str Filename of the mapping graphic to use when editing this effect. For a grid, leave empty.
map_cols int Number of columns in this map. Set to 0 for scripted effects.
map_rows int Number of rows in this map. Set to 0 for scripted effects.
save_format int Internal save version. Should not be changed.
revision int Author’s version number of the effect, e.g. 5. Used to check for updates from the original.

All fields are required.

Additional data depends on the type of effect:

Localisation keys are optional and is intended to be used in a future update where a facility will allow you to upload/download effects created by other users.

Hardware Mappings

Where available, the editor will show a hardware SVG from /usr/share/polychromatic/mapping/ that closely matches the hardware layout or choose one manually. See Add Device Maps & Graphics for details on to structure the SVG when creating new graphics.

Alternately, a basic matrix grid can be used for any device.

A device’s matrix can be directly tested via the Controller. Choose the device from the Devices tab, click Device Info and then Test Matrix.