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Level 7

Sample Apps and boilerplates

Hi All,
I am new to Roku development but have some experience in terms of project management on other sdk's including boxee and Yahoo TV widgets.

I just looked through the sdk and various forum posts and sense a bit of frustration from some of the new developers that might not have the "advantage" of having a full time developing team making this application. And I totally "feel the pain". The development according to some of the posts is complicated and takes a long time.

I also sense that the included samples are just that - samples that really need to be customized in terms of function and design in order to be working and approved by Roku.

If that is an accurate statement, I'd like to offer a suggestion that Roku take the opposite approach to a "basic example" and make the examples as "tight" as possible. Hire a top interface designer that understands the brightscript interface in order to take advantage of the possibilities and create a "boilerplate" that could be used by many channels simply by substituting the branding (and assuming they have the correct streaming in place). Because what makes ROKU so brilliant is the simplicity. A user wants to find and play great programming. The other "bells and whistles" mean little and don't help the roku value proposition.

by offering a template that is pre-approved it encourages uniformity and makes it "comfortable" for users as they are used to the interface. And why have every developer "reinvent the wheel" if they have a bucket full of great programming they want to offer users and no other custom functionality. I admit that many applications are going to require custom apps, but this post is specifically referring to longform premium content (as opposed to weather or photo apps or??)

I apologize for the long winded message but I think this is a very important issue in order to encourage a wide variety of content providers to be able to launch great applications without spending months and big budgets to launch compelling Roku applications. This is even more important because Brightscript does not have a development history (I don't think) like Yahoo TV widgets (Konfabulator) and Boxee (XBMC).

Cheers!
RG
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22 Replies
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Level 7

Re: Sample Apps and boilerplates

I do hear you but is this like Apple and the App store? Roku does not charge any fees to anyone for having an App / channel on Roku. No 30% fees nothing. They say you can make as much money as you like and they do not want a slice of anything. With that in mind, would you not make that extra effort and create something yourself?
CDNOne.com | CDNTwo.com
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Re: Sample Apps and boilerplates

I totally agree. As a content creator, we don't want to reinvent the wheel. We simply need to "repurpose" the video into a Roku friendly form.

In that regard, there are basically two types of content creators: those that give it away for free and are advertiser-supported (like Revision 3) and those that charge a fee and require the user to pay directly.

Ideally, there'd just be a template with easily customizable options in XML for those two scenarios. That'll be the majority of the content creators, and it would help Roku easily -and quickly- expand their channel listing.

We've discussed giving away a Roku box a day... (and continuing to give away one a day) for MONTHS, but it certainly seems like we're fighting an uphill battle in getting a channel created which would then build interest in the Roku box.
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Level 7

Re: Sample Apps and boilerplates

I'm not critical of the Roku model and truly not trying to get something for nothing. I hold the highest regard for this model. I'm merely suggesting that in order to facilitate the widest amount of rights holders to make their content available to Roku users in the shortest amount of time, they make the process easier by giving some very high quality templates which become the "gold standard" in terms of interface versus a base example.

The primary purpose of opening up the Roku channel store was to encourage a wide variety of content. My suggestion only facilitates that goal.

The big difference between the Apple App store is that you have thousands of different types of apps that range from navigation to shopping so a couple templates will not work. My guess is that a big chunk of Roku developers are building the same type of interface - similar to amazon VOD and Netflix. search, select and play. Why have 50 developers spending months doing the same thing - some well and some poorly? rg
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Level 7

Re: Sample Apps and boilerplates

Yes I actually do agree with you. The only problem from my prospective is that we have spent a lot of time and more money creating our channel. Who is going to give us that back?
CDNOne.com | CDNTwo.com
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Level 7

Re: Sample Apps and boilerplates

campbellwang,
If you're interested in getting paid back for your channel creation costs, then you should charge for access to your channel, as Roku has allowed you to do. Without charging for your service, you will not be paid back whether Roku puts out a template or not. That is very much like saying that you should be paid back for fees that you used to pay to an ISP just because you can go to McDonald's and get wifi for free now.
Early adopters will always get the short end of the stick. Sometimes it comes in the form of buggy hardware or software. Other times it comes from functionality that is only available later because of the pioneers' labour.
If your only argument against having a well-written template is that you did not get it for free, then it is a poor argument, indeed.
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Level 7

Re: Sample Apps and boilerplates

Someone once said to me that people tend to remember the last thing they heard or read. So with this in mind I will re-write the comment I made earlier.

Yes I actually do agree with you rsg.

The only problem from my prospective is that we have spent a lot of time and more money creating our channel. Who is going to give us that back?

But, Yes I actually do agree with you rsg.
CDNOne.com | CDNTwo.com
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Level 7

Re: Sample Apps and boilerplates

It's really in Roku's best interest to make building a channel as painless as possible. The path to Roku's continued success is to provide content that users want to watch. Netflix and Amazon are great partners to have on board, but more content cannot hurt Roku. I know I've been sitting in front of my Roku with both Amazon and Netflix content available and thought "Nah, I want to watch something else." That's why it's great to see Revision 3, Twit, etc. on the device. I'm really encouraged to see Roku adding channels periodically. They've pretty much been misses for me so far, but that won't continue to be the case.

While I've been having a good time (albeit sometimes frustrating) developing a channel, I know some folks are really struggling to get their heads around the development process. The simplevideoplayer and videoplayer apps are a good starting point, but there are things in there that I've seen and just shaken my head at (the star rating in the videoplayer for example). One of two things needs to happen: Roku needs to put out a solid, complete player example (search, pin, settings, etc.) or the community needs to do it. The community is going to need time to make that happen. I think the vast majority of us only got into this very recently. I hope I can make contributions, but I don't know that I'll put together a complete example because I just don't need that functionality.

The bottom line is that the quickest way to more channels is to make the channels easier to build. It's a lot easier to have a complete example where all you need to do is turn off functionality than it is to build functionality from scratch.

As far as the value proposition goes, if it was worth the time and effort to develop the channel in the first place that shouldn't change as more tools arrive. If Roku released a channel building wizard tomorrow I wouldn't be upset about the amount of time I've spent on this so far. In fact, I'd be excited because maybe I can get my development done more quickly now.
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Level 7

Re: Sample Apps and boilerplates

bryankaiser
couldn't agree with you more. I was actually thinking about the "community option". The disadvantage to that direction versus a Roku driven "wizard" would be the design and interface that typically results from a community is hit and miss. Even with mature open source platforms like Joomla, the design options are limited. If Roku truly got behind this idea and brought in a top UI designer, they could better control the ultimate look and feel. Roku has done an excellent job in this regard so far, I'd think this would be an opportunity to further enhance that.

I also hope that some of the vendors will jump into this "window of opportunity" and provide turnkey solutions in the area of ad supported and transactional solutions for a piece of the pie. Because even with a wizard approach, we cannot expect the advanced functionality on a silver platter...
rg
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Re: Sample Apps and boilerplates

Interesting thread.

I've often wondered what it would take to provide the "most commonly used" functionality into a wizard system and give the channel developer a WYSIWYG interface to work with when creating their channel.

I do understand that this is a bit more complicated to bring to fruition than it may sound as if I'm suggesting it is; however, it similarly once was the case for DVD-menu authoring as well. Now there are many tools that allow a total novice to create a DVD with text placement, moving clips for menu selections, you name it.

I do understand that it would take a bit of time to develop this, especially if it were done without help from Roku. Also, any firmware updates that Roku pushed that caused changes to the functionality could be a concern for compatability between this "WYSIWYG emulator" and the actual Roku box.

Regardless... I just wanted to share my concept. I believe that many that would like to take a crack at creating a channel for their content (albeit private may or may not be expected) would be more apt to do so if the coding was a result of a design versus the current model which is that the design is a result of the coding.

Yup,
Prodigious Juggalo
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