Roku Developer Program

Developers and content creators—a complete solution for growing an audience directly.
cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
bmn
Level 7

roWebKitScreen?

Dear Roku Engineering Team,

Are there any plans on implementing a WebKit component? This would be wounderful as it would allow us to create screens that run HTML/CSS/Javascript applications directly on the Roku. Player functionality could be exposed as a Javascript object that would be used to interact with it.

I'm thinking of a component would be the best way to go as it would still permit for a standard BrightScript Roku application while allowing for certain screens or all of the application to run on HTML/CSS/Javascript. Would be amazing to be able to leverage all of the great libraries and frameworks that are already out there, not to mention it would ease the porting existing WebKit apps and if "roWebKitScreen" would be hardware-accelerated it would be awesome squared.

So, what do you think?
0 Kudos
11 Replies
belltown
Level 7

Re: roWebKit?

Here's a quote from Roku's CEO, Anthony Wood, made a year ago on 4/22/2015:

our players have a lower intrinsic cost structure than other streaming players. Beginning in 2007 when we designed the first streaming player, we identified having a low “bom” cost (bill of materials) as a core competitive advantage. That’s why we don’t use android or html – both require a lot more memory and faster CPUs than the Roku OS. The TV business is a much more cost conscious business than mobile devices and PCs


A lot can change in a year or more, and if the costs associated with CPU speed and memory capacity were the main reason for not using html, that could potentially change as costs come down. I'm not holding my breath though.
https://github.com/belltown/
0 Kudos
bmn
Level 7

Re: roWebKit?

Well, that statement would have been true in 2007, but for many years it hasn't been true, a Roku 3 with its dual core processor and 512MB or RAM, has more power than other cheaper streaming players that have supported WebKit development for years now, and they run just fine. Also, Roku players are not the cheapest either (so no low "bom" there, at least not now).

As far as I can tell, the current Netflix app that was developed with the native Roku SDK runs some type of webkit development internally, so hardware has been capable for a while. This is perhaps a matter of strategy, or of will, but I don't think this could be a technical issue.
0 Kudos
RobSMS
Level 7

Re: roWebKit?

While I'd like to see a webkit for Roku implementation, the current RokuOS is still leaps and bounds above any HTML/CSS/JS method. I built a FireTV app using Ionic and the experience was sluggish and glitchy. I tried a few other frameworks and they all had the same issues. I ended up contracting a developer to write a native Android app with Java.

While WebKit would make it easier for new developers to get up and running, it's not a really good solution for IPTV. You would be better off just learning how to build an app using Scenegraph, as it's pretty functional once you wrap your head around it.
Need Apps Templates? Content Management for OTT/IPTV? Check me out @ http://rovidx.com
0 Kudos
bmn
Level 7

Re: roWebKit?

Yes, I agree, SceneGraph is quite flexible and capable and you can create an GUI as good as any, but again, you're stuck with Roku-proprietary stuff, a roWebKitScreen component would open Roku app development to many standard and cross-platform code and technology.

I believe your story about Webkit Ionic development, but I can tell you that with the right know-how, you can create amazing GUI's using a WebKit on android or any OS or device.
0 Kudos
EnTerr
Level 8

Re: roWebKit?

"bmn" wrote:
... for many years it hasn't been true, a Roku 3 with its dual core processor and 512MB or RAM, has more power than other cheaper streaming players that have supported WebKit development for years now, and they run just fine.

Really? Hmmm, please name me a few "cheaper streaming players that have supported WebKit development for years now" that "run just fine", i.e. are not an absolute PoS garbage. I have been looking for these for years with no luck. I'll settle for 1 example but the more you can point me to, the better.

i just opened http://www.roku.com in incognito Chrome tab and w/o clicking anything, that ate 130MB.
roWebKit? ... ro_i_dont_think_so!
0 Kudos
bmn
Level 7

Re: roWebKit?

Really, I can assure you I'm not talking out of my butt here. There's Infomir's MAG250 for one, check it out here: http://www.infomir.eu/eng/products/iptv-stb/mag-250/

That's the old hardware, it's got a single-core ST CPU, 256Mb of RAM, 256Mb of flash storage, and it's WebKit-only development. They make available their Javascript API for anyone who wishes to develop on their boxes. Look around the site and you will find the API docs and development kit.

I think they use the publicly licensed Apple WebKit code, probably heavily modified, which the Roku development team would have to do as well to fit it into their proprietary OS.

Again, without knowing the detalis of their internal OS arquitecture I think this is technically doable, but the obstacles may not be entirely technical.

One can wish Smiley Happy
0 Kudos
EnTerr
Level 8

Re: roWebKit?

"bmn" wrote:
Really, I can assure you I'm not talking out of my butt here. There's Infomir's MAG250 for one, check it out here: http://www.infomir.eu/eng/products/iptv-stb/mag-250/ ...
Why is this MAG250 not "an absolute PoS garbage"?
Persuade me - just glancing at the remote, my gut is shouting "next!". I have seen many such come and go. Perhaps it's possible to have clueless hardware UX and great software UX but i somehow doubt it. The video i find does not encourage me on the UI either. I don't care about the specs or price if nobody will use it.

"bmn" wrote:
... I think this is technically doable, but the obstacles may not be entirely technical
Tracheotomy is technically doable. It is not however advisable except in dire circumstances.

Is there a good, usable web-based UI in wide use on a low-cost, popular streamer?
0 Kudos
RobSMS
Level 7

Re: roWebKit?

"bmn" wrote:
... but I can tell you that with the right know-how, you can create amazing GUI's using a WebKit on android or any OS or device.


As with EnTerr's comment, can you provide an example of one? I've tried a good portion of HTML5 based apps out there, and they left a lot of room for improvement especially on the 10ft experience.
Need Apps Templates? Content Management for OTT/IPTV? Check me out @ http://rovidx.com
0 Kudos
bmn
Level 7

Re: roWebKit?

EnTerr,

I'm not defending the MAG250 nor saying it's the greatest thing, but it is hardly a PoS. I have development experience with the MAG and I can say that it is an OK box on the cheaper side. It's widely in use by many broadcasters (although not in America, as in the continent) and has been in the market for many years.

The video you saw shows the internal "portal" which is a little outdated and ugly I admit, but when developing an app you can make the GUI look however you want, even identical to Roku's. A point was made that perhaps the Roku didn't have enough hardware power to do WebKit, and since you asked, I mentioned the MAG which does have less hardware power.

Now, if you compare it to the Roku, yes, the Roku is better: it uses top-notch hardware, the GUI looks beautiful out of the box, it's simple, really pretty and well designed. That's one of the reasons I think it would be amazing to have WebKit capabilities on it.

RobSMS,

I'm not trying to be an ass, but I cannot point to a specific app or example of a WebKit GUI in action, in fact I'm not aware of any publicly-licensed framework for building WebKit STB GUI's out there, you could develop your own one though. I can tell you that a lot of industry-standard middleware and suites used by broadcast-quality solutions are WebKit based. Also, the app frameworks for some smart TV's such as Samsung's and LG's are WebKit based as well.

This is not a wild and new idea guys, you might have already seen a WebKit GUI in an embedded device or player and not noticed it.
0 Kudos