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Old October 22nd, 2008, 04:32 AM
Gamester17 Gamester17 is offline
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"Boxee Media Companion" - a Tag Editor and Media Server as a separate software app

I would like to float the idea of Team Boxee also made its own stand-alone "Boxee Media Companion" software application which would act as a 'Tag Editor' and 'Media Server' multimedia collection management application that end-users could install and run separately on their Linux/Mac/Windows desktop computers.

Kind of like billyad2000's XBMC Media Companion for all digital video/music/picture files, however also with the ability to write and edit the metadata tags/atoms inside the media files (like the ID3 tag in an MP3 file), as well as a built-in DLNA compliant UPnP AV MediaServer. I also really like the concept of MeD's Movie Manager, it is cross-platform which is great but it is coded in Java which is not ideal, as it would be better if it was programmed in C++ programming language (with maybe Python as add-on plugins) as Boxee Media Center software is. The point of adding the UPnP AV MediaServer part is that it would serve as a very easy way for average users to share multimedia content on their network, this UPnP AV MediaServer part would then always run in the background as a small agent serving the media files even when the "Boxee Media Companion" GUI is not running.


"Boxee Media Companion" a stand-alone multimedia collection management application:
This is maybe off-topic but; would Team Boxee could do later is to also add extra features to the above meantioned idea of a "Boxee Media Server" (UPnP MediaServer) software application, features that have nothing directly to do with sharing but instead really to do with managing your collection of video/music/picture files, (which indirectly benefit the whole Boxee 'experience').

I am suggesting that this "Boxee Media Companion" should have features that will not be added to the Boxee Media Center software itself (which is again normally only installed in a set-top-box style setup with no locally stored video/music/picture files), but instead I am suggesting a stand-alone software application meant to be installed on the end-users home desktop computer and used to manage and edit meta data tags, referring to the home desktop computer where you store your media on, (so kind of like similar to iTunes but without the playback functions).

It would features such as music and video file TAG editing, customize their thumbnails, EDL (Edit Decision List) modifying, attaching subtitles, and more of such related features that one does to manage your collection of video/music/picture files. Small and useful, but powerful features that make it simpler for a user to manage their large collections of media content.

More features could be include in this desktop computer application like ripping Audio-CD:s (since Boxee set-top-box might not originally have a built-in CD/DVD-ROM drive), media format/codec conversion tool, ...and who knows, in the future it could maybe even be made to rip DVD-Video:s and Blu-ray discs as well, (though that might require a third-party plugin like Slysoft's AnyDVD to keep it legal from Boxee's point of view), or perhaps also transcode unsupported and DRM protected files on-the-fly while streaming over the network by using other third-party plugins.


"Boxee Media Server" a stand-alone UPnP Server application:
One of the most common 'hurdles' and usually the first 'learning curve' issue that XBMC (and thus also Boxee) newbie end-users bumps into with XBMC is setting up a share(s) for their multimedia files on their desktop computer and then access/connecting to those shares from their dedicated XBMC machine (which is usually installed in a set-top-box style setup with no locally stored video/music/picture files).

This issue would easily be solved if Team Boxee produced its own simple-to-use UPnP MediaServer as a stand-alone software application (for the common desktop operating-system, meaning Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X, and GNOME/KDE on Linux), as then it would make it so much simpler for first time users and beginners to get up-and-running with setting up a share (or several shares) on their home desktop computer.

Then in Boxee you can have a big button under "Add Source" in where it says "Add connection to Boxee Media Server" or something similar which when selected automatically detects and adds that source to your video share if you are in the video section, or music if you are in the music section, etc.. Usually you would want to setup three shares on your computer, one for audio/music, one for video/movies, and one for images/pictures, and have those three separated already in the UPnP MediaServer application graphical interface. Nice with installing an server application on your computer is that this software will of course also configure the (windows software) firewall settings for the end-user already during installation of the application.

Another nice thing for end-users about a having a UPnP server as a media sharing server is that the can re-sort the files and folder 'virtually' in the application interface without moving the actual files, it will be very easy for them to setup muli-path shares where they have their all their picture folder from different local harddrive look like it in the same folder, etc. (yes I know you can already do muli-path inside XBMC but I think that it would be so much simpler for most users to manage and edit their files (and file shares) on a desktop computer with keyboard and mouse in a drag-and-drop interface, which this stand-alone software application would provide.

The GUI for this UPnP AV MediaServer part should of course also offer the ability to change access permissions based both on the user and on what player is connected.

Boxee developers would probably want look at FUPPES, or MediaTomb, as I think one of those would probably make a good framework for you to work form as the code base, (similar to how Boxee use XBMC as the framework for the Boxee Media Center code base), or otherwise start by looking into libupnp (plus LibUPnP++ Framework) and uShare to use its source code base to build upon, (or just use Platinum UPnP Framework that XBMC uses, though I do not think that is free for commercial use which is why I first referred to libupnp instead. Alternative do a search for UPnP on SourceForge.net, in any it would be preferable if you choose one that only uses C++ programming-language so that Team-XBMC could assist if needed.


Boxee specific functions:
You could also add an an option to backup or edit your Boxee account information from this application (export and import function), make it easier to add custom RSS feeds, be of assistance to plugin developers, easy access to boxee.tv wiki section for online help and such. Maybe even access advanced configuration not available in the normal Boxee GUI like edit keymapping and the advancedsettings.xml file. Perhaps a support chat room, and other Boxee community chat rooms.


Why not integrate this into Boxee's existing media center GUI?:
So why do I think that this "Boxee Media Companion" should be a a separate software application from Boxee's Media Center software; well I personally do not think it is not the job of a media center softwar to write metadata to media files, in I am in fact of the opinion that a media center software should not touch any of the files or folder structure, editing the tags of media files is the job of a separate desktop software application that is not a media center. Boxee media center software should only write to its SQL databases and at most be able to export those SQL databases into XML formatted NFO files like XBMC can, see:
http://xbmc.org/wiki/?title=Import_-_Export_Library


How this could still possibly be integrated into Boxee's existing media center GUI?:
I have not tested My Movies 2 myself (yet) but it sounds like a cool application because it seem to feature something they call "My Movies WebService" which if I understand it correnctly from the description would be a superb solution for the "Boxee Media Companion" concept, as then the idea would be changed so that instead of making "Boxee Media Companion" a stand-alone desktop software you would make it as an PHP, AJAX, and/or JavaScript website and have that ship with Boxee's built-in WebServer. That way there would be no need install any separate software for the "Boxee Media Companion" as it would just be a web service that comes with Boxee, which also makes it platform-independent without modification. There is actually a basic open source web tool on SourceForge available for XBMC that does something similar (but is not quite yet so developed), it is called "Music Browser" and can be used to access XBMC SQL databases for controlling the XBMC Music Library. Checkout: https://sourceforge.net/projects/musicbrowser/

What do you think of this idea?

PS! Boxee's 'advanced/expert' end-users will of course still have the option to use SMB/Samba network shares without installing this "Boxee Media Companion" software.

Last edited by Gamester17; October 30th, 2008 at 04:54 AM.
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  #2  
Old October 22nd, 2008, 04:35 AM
Gamester17 Gamester17 is offline
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Re-using scraper code and scrapers from Boxee Media Center in Boxee Media Companion

This "Boxee Media Companion" could re-use the scraper code from Boxee/XBMC Media Center and use the same process chain and RegEx scrapers to do the initial collection of the meta data information. Developers who are interested in that could read more about that here => http://www.meedios.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2238

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  #3  
Old October 22nd, 2008, 12:05 PM
iBog iBog is offline
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I see the Boxee software as a media player and media manager. Boxee is used for playing and organizing videos, music and photos.

In my opinion, data about media should be stored with the media as metadata. Sure, Boxee will always maintain it's own database of media so it can perform searches and display to users. I just like the idea of a complete solution that allows the writing of tags back to the media if I take the effort to use Boxee to identify media or find missing metadata.

Not that iTunes is a shining example, however, if I take the effort to modify metadata it will write updates back to the media.

A compromise solution could be a preference option that disables writes. Considering SMB shares is likely where most people will keep their media, Boxee may not even have permission to write them (I typically keep my shares read only to protect my media). I don't even think UPnP will have the ability to write to the file either.

RE: UPnP server

I have been unable to get Boxee to recognize my Mediatomb UPnP server. Since I've been unable to use a UPnP server I don't understad what the advantages or disadvantages may be. Could you explain what some advantages and disadvantages are of UPnP vs SMB?

If a new user wants to share media from their PC, it may make more sense for a companion application to assist the user in creating SMB network shares rather then installing an entirely new service.
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  #4  
Old October 23rd, 2008, 06:55 AM
Gamester17 Gamester17 is offline
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More longwinded ranting from myself...

Quote:
Originally Posted by iBog View Post
Could you explain what some advantages and disadvantages are of UPnP vs SMB?
To not go into details. UPnP is faster more efficient network protocol and the software can be made more user-friendly than SMB, but SMB is more flexible as it leaves everything up. However, Boxee could choose to use the UPnP network protocol for streaming as it is more efficient but still share all the files over it just as if they where only raw data files as let Boxee Media Center do the reading of the tags, instead of letting the it as a UPnP AV MediaServer collect and serve meta data, and then it would be just as flexible as SMB, (that is kind of what XBMC's own XBMS Protocol does, it is a faster and more efficient network protocol but it only serves raw file data so it is as flexible as SMB, plus just like UPnP is it routable so it possible to stream it over the internet, something that SMB is not designed to be able to do).

Quote:
Originally Posted by iBog View Post
If a new user wants to share media from their PC, it may make more sense for a companion application to assist the user in creating SMB network shares rather then installing an entirely new service.
Sure that is another alternative, but that would make the AV Media Server part of this "Boxee Media Companion" dependent on the under-lying operating-system instead of being platform-independent. Also remember that SMB is not a network protocol that is designed to stream audio and video, whether UPnP where created from the very beginning for that specific purpose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iBog View Post
I see the Boxee software as a media player and media manager.
As a project manager of XBMC I have to say that disagree with that vision, at least from XBMC's point of view. Simply put; XBMC Media Center (which Boxee is based upon) is a media player that is on purposely designed as with a 10-foot user interface to be used in the living-room couch/sofa with a remote control, running on a dedicated set-top-box type computer connected to your large-screen TV. XBMC Media Center is not designed to be a desktop media management application. I recommend you read Team XBMC's 'manifesto' that is available here => http://xbmc.org/about/vision/

I think a good comparison is iTunes verses Front Row, Apple have with those purposely separated the desktop media management function that iTunes takes care of, from the living-room media center GUI part that Front Row is designed for. Microsoft does the same with Windows Media Player verses Windows Media Center, (Windows Media Player serves a a media management application, and Windows Media Center serves as a dedicated living-room media center GUI). Yes it is true that both iTunes Windows Media Player have both audio and video playback capabilities, but their interface is purposely design for desktop computers, and not as a 10-feet GUI for you living-room TV. The idea behind this is that you would not want to sit in your living-room couch/sofa editing and sorting metadata tags and your file-structure hierarchy with a remote control 10-feet (approximately 3-metres) from the display. So IMHO for all such media management that you want instead to sit at a proper desk with a desktop application running on a computer.

Again, a smart compromise would be to make Boxee's Web-Interface be the media management part of this "Boxee Media Companion", only have the GUI for it as a PHP/AJAX/JavaScript based application that is always accessed via a web browser running on any computer. This would be an easy way to make the media management part platform-independent, and accessible not only on the local network but also via the internet if boxee's website offered a DynDNS type service, and perhaps also make the Web GUI scale to the web brower on portable devices such as the iPhone.

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Best regards / Andreas Setterlind (a.k.a. Gamester17)
XBMC Project Manager (and Boxee Alpha tester)

XBMC Media Center (xbmc.org), the cross-platform open source media center and framework that Boxee is built upon
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  #5  
Old November 5th, 2008, 10:06 AM
DGMurdockIII DGMurdockIII is offline
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this migh be ok but i would like it built in to boxee
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  #6  
Old November 5th, 2008, 02:25 PM
jdarnold jdarnold is offline
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Why would Boxee want to have a standalone media server, when XBMC already has one built into it?

iBog - the biggest consumer for a UPnP media server is the Playstation 3. I've run Mediatomb on my opensuse box to serve up music for my PS3. One of my main interests in Boxee (and XBMC) is to see if there was some way to easily serve up video.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 11:17 AM
xain09 xain09 is offline
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I've been thinking about this too.

Boxee itself should never be aloud to trash or edit files. Too dangerous when the kids and wife are playing around with it. A separate TAG Editor for all music and movies would be very handy to keep my collection clean and up-to-date. A nice UPnP server would be more than welcome so I can browse my collection on my Xbox 360 or even PS3. Personally I would just prefer iTunes to be my tag-editor but for Movies iTunes is a nightmare. So yeah why not put it all in one little easy to use little app? I wouldn't mind
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Old November 6th, 2008, 12:37 PM
iBog iBog is offline
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xain: I have since considered this much more and I agree that it makes more sense not to include the ability to modify files.

I still see Boxee as a client for media playback and not as a server to share media with other media players. I'm pretty strong about this one because I don't think most media players even need a hard drive.

Even in the case of Apple TV, you can have a 40 GB or 160 GB internal drive. When you're dealing with videos that space fills up so quickly and it's hardly a reliable place to store the media (i.e. no redundancy if the drive fails).

I understand UPnP AV may be a preferred protocol because it could offer more interoperability with other AV gear. It is designed for the specific purpose of sharing media on the LAN. I also see the number of support requests from users trying to create a network share on their Windows or Mac OS X system.

UPnP in a companion desktop tool would be useful. Here, we could use the same indexing functions to update metadata tags.

My NAS happens to have a built-in UPnP server.

Last edited by iBog; November 6th, 2008 at 12:39 PM.
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  #9  
Old November 6th, 2008, 10:25 PM
PHermas PHermas is offline
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+1 think it's a great idea
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  #10  
Old November 13th, 2008, 11:52 AM
joincamp joincamp is offline
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I would love to get involved if you are talking about actually coding something. I was planning on doing something like this on my own anyway, but your ideas match mine almost exactly and would like this to be a team project if possible.
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