Moving Pictures MP2 | Page 4

Discussion in 'Plugin Development' started by MaxMan23, November 21, 2012.

  1. MJGraf
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    MJGraf Retired Team Member

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    As to the backend: There is already a very powerful querying system. What it does is basically translate queries for MediaAspects and Attributes in MediaAspects into SQL queries, which are then thrown at our backend database. The database returns SQL query results, which are then automatically translated into MediaItemAspects.
    And the frontend already makes heavy use of it: Everytime you use the "Filter" button in the music / video or any other section in MP2 Client, this querying system is used. What happens technically there is quite complex, but as a rough simplification imagine the following: In your Video Section, when you "filter by genre" in MP2 Client, the client puts together a query along the lines of "give me all MediaItems that have a VideoAspect and group them by genres". This query is then transmitted to the MP2 Server (via UPnP by the way...). MP2 Server receives this query, transforms it into an SQL query, which is executed in the backend database. The result from the database is transformed into MediaItemAspects, which are transferred to the client (again via UPnP), where they are displayed in your video section.
    So all this is already there and what we need to avoid the video section not to display Movies or Series is "only" a kind of "standard filter", which is always applied in the video section additionally to the filters you choose (I can easily say "only", because I have no clue on how to implement this on the client side - I'm a "backend guy" :D )
    And while we talk about this, it is quite easy to explain some of the improvements that have been implemented lately and are implemented currently. Against the background of the above, imagine that you choose "show all MediaItems" in your music section, which contains, say, 20.000 music files. What happens is the following:
    • MP2 Client queries "give me all MediaItems that have a MusicAspect".
    • The query is transmitted to the server, translated into SQL and thrown at our database.
    • The database returns 20.000 results, which are all converted into MediaItem objects with the corresponding MediaItemAspects.
    • All 20.000 MediaItems objects (not the music files themselves of course, but the objects containing all the metadata about them) are transferred over the network to the client (assuming that the client runs on a different computer than the server).
    • The client then "renders" all the 20.000 music items to be able to display them nicely on your client (rendering in this context means, it takes the cover image, puts the text below it and produces kind of a bitmap, which can directly be displayed on the screen just as you see it later)
    • But finally you only see 10 or 20 of those items, because there is not more space available on your screen - until you scroll down...
    Now thanks to OffByOne, all our views make use of "UI virtualization". This means that although we first transfer 20.000 items to the client, only as many items are "rendered", as can be displayed on the screen (plus some additional ones for faster scrolling). The others are only rendered, when you actually scroll down. This worked before only in list views - but not in grid views, which was the reason why grid views were barely useable in case of many items to display before OffByOne made this improvement (which was called "Virtualizing WrapPanel" in our release news).

    But still, there is a tremendous overhead in that the database is queried for 20.000 items and the result is transformed into MediaItem objects which are all transferred to the client (potentially over a network connection). What helps here is "Data Virtualization". This means that the client can not only query for "all MediaItems having a MusicAspect", but it can say "give me the first 50 MediaItems having a MusicAspect". Later when the user scrolls down, it can query "give me the next 50" and so on. This is what Valk is currently working on and which will improve the user experience greatly - by way of again much better responsiveness.

    These are just two examples of what I mean with "having the technical concept perfectly right". Once Data Virtualization is implemented, EVERY part of MP2 will automatically take advantage of this, because every part of MP2 uses the same way to communicate with the server.

    Hope that explains a bit what we mean with "work to do in the backend" :)


     
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  3. fforde

    fforde Community Plugin Dev

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    For what what it's worth, these walls of text don't help much. Dir is right, there are better solutions that are more complete that range from free (Plex) to $35 (Chrome Cast).

    The design decisions that have been made are interesting to me as a software engineer but as a user these are just reasons why I have lost interest in the platform.
     
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  4. Ministerk
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    Ministerk Super User

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    First, I have not used MP2 more then to try it out. I'm not a regular at these parts of the forum.

    But I have to agree with fforde and dir. I know this is an open source product with people doing it on their spare time - I do not criticize your work.

    I understand from a developers point of view the joy of building a system from scratch and be rid of the technical debt; creating an excellent, cool architecture with all the right abstractions.

    But an end user does not care about that stuff, if it's not user friendly they will look in an another direction and bad will will follow (that's expensive...). MediaPortal 1 has a rumour to be overly complicated and complex and users pick other products instead (even thought I converted a handful to MP;)) and it would be a shame if MP2 ends up there too, I really hope not.

    Of course me and other MP1 users could use MP2 and come with ideas. But I do not think we, here in the forums, are the ones to ask - it's the other users.
    What this project really needs is some kind of HCI/usability expert and a non technical user "focus group".

    I know the above is to much to ask for, but a semi experienced usability expert with the knowledge of working with e.g. personas and user centred design could add the "it" thing that (together with the stable technical platform) could take MP2 up there where it should be - as one of the more popular HTPC/mediaplayer products.

    So after the back end is "finished" please add new stories for usability and prioritize them properly and do the must and shoulds before the first non beta release.


    Edit:
    An late edit. It's not farfetched to assume that at least 1/3 of the MP1 user base is non technical users, I think a lot of us here in the forums have families.
     
    Last edited: January 2, 2014
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  5. Spragleknas
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    Spragleknas Administrator

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    OK, I can't help having my say here.
    Unlike fforde and ministerk, I'm no dev, I have no clue regarding coding - less software architecture. Like a chimpanzee I find myself reading stuff I don't really understand (well, sometimes I do understand the occasional thing - or at least I like to think so :D). MJGraf's post does, however, make sense to me. It made me more more excited about MP2 then before - although I've also been worried about MP2 being "to little - to late".

    - First of all I'm a bit surprised about this post. Seems a bit disrespectful, if you ask me - and this is coming from one (IMHO) of the absolutely most respected contributor to the development of MP. Maybe I just read it wrong...
    It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody that there are more complete solutions out there than MP2.... MP2 is still alpha! Comparing Plex and ChromeCast to MP2 makes no sense to me at this stage.

    And about the "user friendly"-thing... again... still in alpha here! That being said, I think we have established that MP1 is an application that does not fit everyone - or to be blunt: You need to at least a semi-geek to be using it on a regular basis (my personal opinion, yes). "Non-technical-users" will not use MP1 - period! "Non-technical-users" will probably never use XBMC, WMC or any other Linux or Win based mediacenter hooked to the TV - including MP2. "Non-technical-users" will use a "smart TV" - or AppleTV, ChromeBook etc. I'm pretty sure "Non-technical-users" won't give a shit about FLAC vs MP3, bitstreaming, bitperfect, pixel-perfect, 1:1 pixelmapping, getting 23.976 FPS yadya, yada, yada.... Pretty sure a "Non-technical-users" won't even bother playback of stored files - they just want to stream it via Netflix, Spotify, HBO - and here MediaPortal (and XBMC etc) are quite screwed already.

    I consider myself a "semi-technical-user". I am (well, was) on the verge of going only Netflix+Spotify for all my media - but I just don't think it is quite there yet for me. But if it was, a new Samsung smart TV would make a whole lot more sense to me than MP - or ChromeCast or Plex, for that matter. (But I had to go cheap-o and get myself a "non-smart 3D-LG" :D).

    So... Now I lost track :D But to sum it up: MP2 is alpha. It is not supposed to fulfill you every needs at this time. Morhp said that next version would probably be beta, but he did never say that MP2 is feature complete. MJGraf has described how things are still to come. Sadly there are not many devs working on MP2 atm, so we need to give MP2 time to evolve.
     
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  6. fforde

    fforde Community Plugin Dev

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    I meant no disrespect, I was only trying to give my perspective on things. It is interesting to me to read about the logic behind the design of MP2, and I think the unified database model along with the importer system is one of the most well designed parts of MP2. But that design does not ease concerns people are voicing about usability, if anything it alienates non-technical users looking for reassurance. You do have some non-technical users and I think it is unwise to dismiss them; of all your users they are going to give you the absolute best feedback about usability issues.

    And you are right it's not fair to compare MP2 to Plex or Chromecast, but that's just the nature of the situation. The fact is that competing platforms like Plex and Chromecast have advantages not only over MP2 but over MediaPortal 1 as well. These are platforms that are siphoning users away from the MediaPortal community and it's important to realize that fact and it's important to realize that the built in user base for MediaPortal 2 is beginning to dwindle.

    These may be unpleasant things to hear, but this is the reality of the situation. I mean none of this with disrespect, I am a huge fan of the MediaPortal platform, I continue to use it on a regular basis and it's a community I am proud to be a part of.

    None of these problems are insurmountable, and a little bit of reassurance about plans to improve usability would probably go a long way towards retaining existing users unsure if they want to stick around.
     
    Last edited: December 31, 2013
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  7. adspence

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    Maybe this should move to another thread about the relative merits of MP1, MP2, Chromecast, Plex and other software. Then I'd jump in with the drawbacks of Chromecast and Plex. The problems with MP1/2 in my view are more about those inherent in the Windows/PC platform it is build on. For my main non-tech user that I've set up with MP1 I've almost reached the point of ditching the HTPC approach. But that isn't related to the MP GUI or usability, which are all fine for her, but the failings of EPG grabbing (which Plex doesn't have at all of course) - or Windows Updates that screw something up - neither of which are core-MP's fault.
     
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  8. aidbish
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    aidbish MP Donator

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    These kinds of posts make me sad.
    I have used MP since 2006 and i will move to MP2 when i gives the same or better functionality that what i have now.

    We have respected developers of as far i am concerned (authors of the must have plugins moving pictures) questioning his own continued support of MP as a platform.
    Dir and fforde have valid comments as to the end users point of view and they should be taken on board.
    Can they or others be included in the development team to look at the user perspective and give input.
    Maybe a user functionality sub group that does have the authority to try and keep the development and user needs in check.

    Just my thoughts, as i mentioned earlier these types of posts makes me said when our own contributors are looking in different directions

    To fforde and dir, don't abandon MP everyone in its community benefits from your contributions and/or development skills

    cheers

    Ade
     
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  9. MrTechno
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    I'd like to see documentation on how to migrate MP1 plugins to MP2. If an automated tool is not practical then some step by step HOWTO guide at least. And since plugin development work is done in people's free time then the sooner it happens the better. Just my two cents of opinion...
     
  10. Terra

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    At first I was curious about this thread because of the title but the discussion which came up here really is the most interesting part, although maybe misplaced in a thread about MP :)
    I can only agree with fforde and dir and also noticed this, right now for me MP2 is a Tech-Demo to see what the Framework can do. And I even can't test it anymore because it cannot find my shared folders.

    I was a developer in the past and I am still doing some smaller things, at my work I am confronted with a lot of requests regarding business processes which people would like to have however which sometimes seem stupid, not logical and most of the times to not fit in the framework the developers have created for the software and they need to rewrite a lot just to get very small requests right.

    In the end it is always important what the users want and understand what they need. The important things are to know what are the USE-CASES of the people using it.

    e.g.
    It is nice to have a library of all media which I can manipulate with views and change the layout of the grid and things, however most people just want to see the new movies they have just added, and they want it out of the box. If I need to go through 5 subfolders and guess where it is I can just startup windows explorer and double click on it because it is easier and less frustrating.
    And Moving Pictures provides just this user experience out of the box. The same with MP TV-Series.
     
  11. breese
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    breese Retired Team Member

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    As an MP2 Tester (that is my primary), the Dev's (as few as there are) are working very hard to fix the issues associated with all the parts within MP2. The development has been long and hard and with people like me testing every aspect of MP2, sometimes it feels as though we might be making their jobs harder... over all, its going well.

    The Dev's do read these threads and do understand the concerns. While there might not be a lot of feed-back, I am sure as the bugs are cleared out, the user wants will be filled in.
    Thanks for the input... :)
     
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