New Plugin/Skin Concept (1 Viewer)

hardcorehire

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April 1, 2008
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I'm not sure if this is the best spot for this or if it makes more sense in "Feature Requests".

Background:
I want to create a skin/plugin that makes MP2 feel more like an appliance than a HTPC. The biggest problem I have is making it super easy for family or friends that visit. There are multiple reasons some of it has to do with the remote, after all this is the gateway to the TV. I have made this a lot better with switching to a harmony remote to easily configure and control multiple devices with one simple remote.

The next biggest struggle I still deal with is leaving PC on VS. sleeping and not coming out of sleep correctly or restarting while trying to search or watch movie. After all how mad would you be if the TV just turned off. I am still working on this (any suggestions on people best solutions based on their setups would be great). Also getting sound to work all the time seems to be issue. Sometimes it turns sound up and down and sometimes I have to mess with the TV sound.

Lastly the reason for the skin/plugin is purely getting away from as much navigation and menus as possible. Sure once you deal with something long enough you understand how it works, but what about the non-tech people or someone visiting. Things should just work and be very intuitive/easy to get to...They shouldn't have to go through 3 or 4 clicks and different menus no matter how straightforward. The fix....

Solution:
The main screen will always be live TV (could be changed to whatever screen would be preference). The main thing I want is a TV that has access to everything else, and not a HTPC with access to TV. The next thing is the menu's why do you need menus? Why not just have 4 or 5 main screens. What do I mean...Well what about just hitting the over button or maybe a number or the colored keys on a winMCE remote and have it scroll through the main TV screen, Movies, Shows, maybe weather or home security, and then one screen with all the remaining apps. Each "main" screen would be fullscreen that can easily be scrolled to without a lot of navigation. I think I would prefer also to have a PIP in each fullscreen with either live TV or last playing video source. There is so much content that sometimes I spend 5 minutes hunting around and hate the silence I would rather have something playing while searching.

The other thing I want is to have Movies and Shows fully integrated with all sources. The best way to explain this is to do a search on youtube for an application called Fanhattan on the iPad. Their smart browser that shows all available sources in one interface is exactly what I want. Why should someone care if the media is local or online. If it's on Netflix or Hulu or on a station's website or wherever they just want to see the content and play it. I'm thinking of an interface where it is all available and maybe a set of rules in the background that says play locally first, then paid service if available by best quality or a popup to pay for service. Again get rid of any and all menu's so things just work and it's intuitive.

I haven't started anything yet other than trying to put together ideas of what works and what doesn't. I wanted to see other peoples thoughts and opinions on this. Feel free to let me know what you think. Anyone want to work on or help with suggested workflows or potential screen layouts is welcome. I'm better at logical programming then with the creative side of layouts.
 

hardcorehire

Portal Pro
April 1, 2008
108
45
OHIO
United States of America United States of America
Anyone have any thoughts on a skin geared to more appliance like features and navigation?
 

chefkoch

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  • October 5, 2004
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    The plan itself sounds pretty good as an overall architecture. (y)

    I am not 100% sure about the correct way (and also not if I use the right terms below), but you might need to split up your features int specific tasks.
    • AutostartPlugin: might be responsible to navigate to specific workflow state / player on MP2-Client startup
    • you might need resource accessors for your different media source (netiflix, ...): http://wiki.team-mediaportal.com/2_...ute/Development/3_Concepts/Resource_Providers
      to access the media itself
    • some workflow models to configure account and credentials
    • maybe some metadata extractors or kind of shares provider to be able to fill the media library with new media items found in your online resources and adding it to the media library
    MP2 itself might not be ready for something like this in all areas, but as soon as there are specific request for extending or changing something we can think about a solution.
     

    Spragleknas

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  • December 21, 2005
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    I like what I read!

    Not related to your write-up, here is a summary of what I'd like to see in MP2 (or: What I don't like about MP1).

    1. Not having two home-screens (basic home/native home) - or even
    2. Not having a home-screen at all. Could/should be replaced by a info-screen (nice when TV is just on - not doing anything or playing some kinda audio). Should - or could - include:
    - Weather info
    - News (not a ticker - but a news dialogue)
    - Media info (Latest media added/now playing/on TV now/soon (that you used to watch/record-logic would be great)
    - (more).

    When I am "wherever" in MP2, I'd like to hit the green button (TGB) getting an instant menu of places/plugins to go to - without leaving current window (fullscreen TV, music-now-playing or whatever). I've personally given this the name "Yessir" (Yes sir), as it should always, always be at my service whenever I neeed it - taking me where I'd like to go next - INSTANTLY - w/o going via another screen. How this should be done, I don't know, but OTTOMH a vertical menu (like used by many MP1 skins in "basic home") could be sufficient - although might be many clicks before getting where wanted. @offbyone had a "spiderweb"-like idea...


    Anyways... Great to see you spinning your head around this, and best of luck!
     

    2BitSculptor

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  • January 23, 2008
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    RANT
    Why is it no one considers adding function to the Menu button on the remote... all it does is ask for a disk to be inserted? If a disk is already playing, then press Menu twice; first press accesses disk menu, second press accesses MediaPortal menu... how hard is that?
    RANT OFF.

    I like the idea of a transparent HTPC. If it was all voice activaed, maybe in future, walk into room with no media on, Say "PlayList Seventies Quiet" or "Watch Channel Six Normal" and the TV turns on, Sound system is activated to preset volume and media begins to play, Either preset Music playlist of 70's (streaming or local) or Channel Six is tuned on TV. But we are not quite there yet.

    Problem with the scenario is that most of the time I don't know what I want to start with, and MePo dcan't read my mind. So I Start TV/MePo/Audio and step through the menu on Basic Home. I already use the green button often to return from some media to BasicHome to select some other Media Source, hit the Back Button to return to whatever media already playing if I don't change my mind.

    Having the Basic Home Menu pop up in a dialog when I press the Menu Button would be cool, though.
     

    Spragleknas

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  • December 21, 2005
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    Well, IMO a infoscreen + pop-up-plugin-menu would be quite similar to a home-screen. The focus of the inf-screen should still be on just that - info. Why we need 80 % of the screensize to be able to select from five or six plugins beats me...

    PS: I don't have a "menu" button. I used to have a MCE remote with "DVD menu"... which is probably the button with DVD logo on my current... Doesn't say menu, tho' ;)
     

    hardcorehire

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    April 1, 2008
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    Some real good discussions going on! Here are some more of my comments...

    I think a great point was made by @chefkoch about working on the AutostartPlugin. For me personally the main thing I want is a TV, and make the HTPC seem more like a smart TV or appliance where it is all integrated. Even though the system may not know what you want to watch at any given moment it should always start at the same place. And I don't want that place to be a menu no matter how nicely laid out or how much information. I guess I'm trying to cater to guests or non-tech people. They should just be able to turn on the TV and watch TV not hunt around in menu's or wait forever to have TV startup. I would design the system to be flexible enough so that someone without TV or someone who always wanted to view another screen as their "home" screen would start first.

    I also realize there will have to be a screen as an app screen some people might think of this as the "home" screen. For me though that would be the last screen I would want to show. I want to display the TV then have the user easily scroll to the next major components that they would view (I.E. Movies/TV, Weather, Home Automation, Apps). The problem becomes I can't have 10 or 15 screens or that becomes cumbersome as well so I would need an app screen. Some users might want this as the screen that displays first by configuring in the AutoStartPlugin. Again I'm trying to figure out the best way to eliminate so much navigation, and want to explore a few screens as "main use" screens that can easily be scrolled through in a full screen mode.

    I realize it would take a lot of work and a long time, but I really don't think 90% of the people care where content comes from they just want to browse and start playing. Again I shouldn't have to hunt around to find content it should be available. Now with this comes a very tough question how do you display that much content? Do you sort by Movies and TV shows? Do you combine all media content? What are the best search and filters to easily find what you want to watch among that much selection.


    I think at this point I still want to hear other peoples thoughts, but my next steps are to start and define the following..

    1) Number and content of main screens
    1a) Number of screens could be dynamic and expanded (should be kept small for navigation 3-5 main use screens)
    2a) Should full screens be part of plugins or just a function of the skin
    2) Desired plugins and determine what is included in skin vs. plugin add on
    3) Animation
    3a) Screen Transition

    Here are a few of the plugins I would like to work on as possible main screens with priorities (some maybe existing or WIP).

    4) Network & MP Status
    3) Home Automation & Security
    2) Movies & TV Shows (including local and online content)
    1) Live TV
    5) Weather
    6) Radio
    7) Cookbook
     

    chefkoch

    Retired Team Member
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  • October 5, 2004
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    You see, first of all it's good to that you have a vision where you would like to go and I guess many users and even team members had it within the past years.
    But at some point you need to split it up into small chunks, which actually can be handled within a reasonable timeframe and of course someone in the end has to do it.

    MP2 is still missing many features within the basic content modules (music/movies/tv), and here and there some minor utility plugins.
    Some might need to be part of the default installation, might be better distributed separately.
    I.e. we still need to implement many API (Wrappers exists but needs integration) for OnlineResources like MusicBrainz, fanartTv, Trakt, LastFm and so on.... RadioStreams (OnlineRadio)...
    Merging all these resources together and having a completely new user experience would be great, but before you need to write the code to serve your application with the content. ;)

    I also would like to see a plugin for rating content:
    • configurable rating system
      • Like / Don't like
      • 1-5
      • 1-10
    • and other plugins could listen to rating message, so you have only one common GUI to rate music, movies, series or episodes and depending on the other plugins which are installed and configured the ratings will be sent to the different websites: musicbrainz, lastfm, theaudiodb, themoviedb, trakt, followit, thetvdb, imdb......
    I wouldn't like to see that every plugin is using it's own rating dialog like in MP1.

    I am also pretty sure that the current skins and designs are far behind the possibilities: We use almost no animations and transitions. Would be great to see some new ideas by the community here. Might it be tweaking the current skin to reach at least the level of information (textual & graphical, i.e. metadata, logos, etc) of MP1 or starting a new approach.

    I am looking forward to the first results and contributions (y)
     
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