Roku Developer Program

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Anonymous
Level 8

What do you want from a Developer Program?

Hi there,

I'd like to ask those of you who are registered developers to help us improve the Developer Program. Please use this thread as an opportunity to give your feedback on the SDK (as a whole), documentation, development process, etc. We'd also love to hear from you about what resources we could provide that would make your experience with Channel development more productive and more successful.

If you aren't already a registered developer and would like to be, please go to https://owner.roku.com/Developer/Home/ and sign up!

Thanks,

Patrick
Developer Program Manager
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17 Replies
cripy
Level 7

Re: What do you want from a Developer Program?

Patrick,

Thanks for the inquiry.

I received my Roku on Wednesday March 10th and began developing immediately. I work for a large adult content provider so I had content in the proper format easily accessible. I started developing the channel for personal / "proof of concept" use not as a work assignment.

I found it great the amount of documentation that Roku provided (you literally need a few of them open at the same time for cross referencing). Since Roku only contains "sample" applications and not many "how to". I started as most do by replacing the default XML / image sizing with my own. One problem I had from the beginning with my custom XML file which set me back a few hours and made me give up progress for the night was that I had descriptions that were 300-700 characters in length. I found out later that this causes a firmware crash but it wasn't until after a lot of trial and error and frustration/device reboots.

The next steps involved creating the necessary .bif files which I found information on by googling the forums. (Googling the forums actually is very helpful as I have found many many things that have helped me progress through this route)

By Friday night I had user account/device linking completed (our content requires authentication).

I continued development over the weekend and by Sunday I had the following features implemented:

* trailer support (not the 2 min feature offered by roku but a completely separate video)
* star rating from xml not hardcoded
* HD branded
* resume support (along with display of % watched)

One thing I can say that would help the development process is some kind of "Wiki" where people can easily get the "secret remote codes" and also other random tips and tricks. (granted, you can use google)
Also, a quick "how to" would probably benefit a lot of people, even those with a lot of development experience. The reason is, it gets somebody on the proper route quickly. Even though the videoplayer application is pretty easy to get going -- many do not understand that. People need a "step by step" guide on how to get the basic channel up and once they have that guide they would probably feel more comfortable "tinkering".

Also, one thing I can say is the difference between the 2 example videoplayer applications is huge and can be a little daunting. You go from looking at 1 file of code that plays 1 video to looking at 12 files of code that read xml etc...

The development process as-far as creating the zip/uploading etc... was good.

One thing that was a bit of a pain was where you upload/edit your private channel on Roku.com. When I go to edit is it possible to make it already use the previous images used? It gets to be a hassle to have to reselect the HD/SD Poster art everytime. Other than that everything was a breeze.
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bbefilms
Level 7

Re: What do you want from a Developer Program?

in no specific order...
* Eclipse plugin
* Debug emulator
* A real bug tracking system for the SDK (posting bugs to the forum and then hoping Kevin sees it is not a bug tracking system)
* Alternative programming language than BrightScript (well, I can ask)
* More clarity about the efficiency of codecs you support, and a far wider range of supported codecs
* Better responsiveness to posted questions (I will say that this has gotten way better in the past few weeks, when I started working with the SDK in January it was bad)
* Include a cookie-cutter home streaming solution with the SDK for those who aren't object-oriented programmers (or let everyone know well in advance if you plan to switch on uPNP etc. so they don't waste their time coding home streaming solutions)

Keep up the good work guys...
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zimbra
Level 7

Re: What do you want from a Developer Program?

"bbefilms" wrote:
in no specific order...
...
* A real bug tracking system for the SDK (posting bugs to the forum and then hoping Kevin sees it is not a bug tracking system)

Keep up the good work guys...


A real bug tracking system for all bugs, not just SDK related; I've basically sidelined all development when I found that an (unconfirmed?) firmware bug is causing everything to rebuffer at 1 hour. Any visibility on priority for things like that would be a big morale boost.

(Yes, I have heard reports that re-encoding my entire library could work around this, maybe - but that's an enormous project, and not really a fix).
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deafnet
Level 7

Re: What do you want from a Developer Program?

Yes, I have couple of suggestion:
A) Brightscript/Channel Wizard... A program that will make thing easy for Rookie to input and delete, ect...

B) I understand that Roku can erect "Member only" channel for developer to watch several video of processing demo. Clear visual demo and maybe add subtitles...

Thanks!
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nowhereman
Level 7

Re: What do you want from a Developer Program?

"bbefilms" wrote:
in no specific order...
* Eclipse plugin


Ditto on the Eclipse plugin. It's quite an adjustment trying to learn and code in a completely new language with no syntax coloring or auto-completion.

Personally, I'd like more robust string processing in BrightScript. It's very frustrating that I can't use regular expressions.

But mostly, I have to echo some of the other comments people have made. My biggest limitation as a developer is the box itself. It has trouble playing a lot of content that I expected would be a piece of cake for it. And I'm not talking about unsupported formats. The box chokes on a large number of mp4 videos that can be found around the net. MSNBC's podcasts are a perfect example. 14 minutes into any of these videos, the box re buffers and the audio and video get all out of sync. I know Roku is aware of this and planning a fix, but for a device that has been on the market as long as this one has and with as much competition on the horizon as there is, I would have expected things like this, issues with the basic functionality of the box, to be fixed a long time ago.

Overall, this is a fun platform to work with, it just still feels very immature.
twitter:nowhereman
http://www.thenowhereman.com/roku
http://www.thenowhereman.com/netflix
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bryankaiser
Level 7

Re: What do you want from a Developer Program?

I'll definitely second a public bug tracker. I've seen a few issues and having to search through the forums to see if anyone else has had the issue is tedious and prone to failure.

A development emulator would be amazing. This could simplify the process so much. Maybe just have it point to the folder that contains the source, manifest, etc. so that we don't have to redeploy the channel for every test iteration. That alone would save tons of development time.

More BrightScript features (RegEx for example).

All in all, this is working out very well.

Bryan
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Re: What do you want from a Developer Program?

"bryankaiser" wrote:

A development emulator would be amazing. This could simplify the process so much. Maybe just have it point to the folder that contains the source, manifest, etc. so that we don't have to redeploy the channel for every test iteration. That alone would save tons of development time.


For sure. An emulator made all the difference doing PocketPC and smartphone stuff with MS Visual Studio .NET compact/mobile frameworks. Being able to run and debug in the PocketPC emulator rather than going to the actual device each time was awesome and definitely saved me many an hour. I'd love to see the same here.
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Highlighted
Banta67
Level 7

Re: What do you want from a Developer Program?

Hello,

Here is another vote for an emulator.

A "How-To" or "Tutorial" sub-section in the forum would be of great help also.

Thank You
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greubel
Level 7

Re: What do you want from a Developer Program?

It would be nice if there were better error responses, especially for the player interfaces. Would like to know why it failed, NOT why it didn't. Also need Brightscript to be a lot faster. It was taking way to long to process an XML script (20 minutes), so I wrote a routine on the PC to break it down into tables. Now I can load it in under 15 seconds.

Who came up with the name Roku (6) ?
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