Big Screen Blog

Media Center, Windows Phone7 + Silverlight Goodness..

Work-In-Progess: More Big Screen TV Series (Part 2)

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There’s been a really encouraging response to my original post on Big Screen TV Series beta (thanks to everyone who has provided comments/feedback and suggestions). I never thought I’d receive so many feature requests before I’d actually made anything available!
 
Well the good (or bad) news is I am accomodating some of these requests – so it’s now taking a little longer to get the first beta ready.
 
However – I’ve made quite a bit of progress on this addin since the first post – so thought I’d share some of the more interesting screenshots with you..
 
 
New Main Menu System
 
In the previous post – I mentioned that I wasn’t happy with the design of the initial main menu in the addin (aka the screen where  you nominate which tv series you want to look at to begin with)..
 
I played with quite a few designs – and think I’ve come up with something that works quite nicely – and "sortof" resembles the Vista MC recorded tv section with a touch of Apple Frontview (for the reflections).
 
The navigation system is also similar to the recorded tv in that the list of available items scroll left/right – and you have your standard tab buttons displayed accross the top of the screen (as the main categories). An area which I enhanced – included adding a secondary row of tabbed buttons for further filtering of the lists. (ie if the main category is ‘genre’ – then the filters would be the genres themselves such as ‘comedy’ etc).
 
There’s also multiple list views (allowing you specify the size/type of the tiles) – and in the screenshot below – a couple of these views are shown.
 

   

You will notice in the categories/filters above – there is also a ‘browse all’ category – which allows you to view series filtered (and sorted) by the status (ie. Latest Recordings, Upcoming Recordings, Unmatched episodes, etc). I have also added a placeholder category for a ‘kids’ mode. (from a user request that a ‘kids’ only mode be provided to ensure only ‘safe’ content was available over an extender).

One user has been a great help (I won’t name them for obvious reasons) – and sent me their Recordings.XML file for testing – which had over 250 series requests – and thousands of recorded file entries. This made be quickly realize I was going to have to support much larger quantities of data on screen – and not make it too cumbersome to work with. (you might recall the initial main menu screens only showed about 5 items at once)..

As I have both banner size and portrait size images to work with from the data source – one view I created has 7 rows x 4 columns – so that allows you to see up to 28 items on screen at once.
 
Below is a couple of these views demonstrated –
 
 
    
 
 
Selected Item behaviour
 
Something that I have done a little differently to other addins (and the main Media Center UI) – is that I wanted to allow people to easily perform actions on a series (such as view details – or play a latest recorded file) – without leaving this screen.
 
Unfortunately developers aren’t allowed to catch/act-on the ‘i’ (info/details etc) button being pressed from MCPL applications – which is the place this sort of feature is normally implemented elsewhere in Media Center.
 
What I came up with was that when you press OK on an item – the scrolling list bends backwards (in 3d) – and a popup dialog appears on top of the list. If the user wants to go back to the list – they just press ‘Back’ on the remote control – and the list bends back in (retaining the selected item / list state).
 
In the example below (for the TV Series ‘Weeds’) – this popup window allows you to view series details, directly play the video clips – or look at recorded files.  If the user clicks ‘View Series’ then they will be taken to the Series/Episode view screens (as previewed in my last post).
 
I included a much larger size screenshot for this (as some of the details were being lost) – however I can’t of course show off  the funky animation going on :
 
 
 
 
 
The information/Actions that comes up here is not yet finalized – and I will have other context sensitive buttons appear – (such as ‘link series’ – if it hasn’t been matched with a known tv series – or a single button to view the episode guide.)
 
In the picture above – you can see that it has located the latest recordings and next scheduled recording – and provided links for quick access. (the glowing yellow video icon also indicates that one of the episodes is new/’unwatched’).
 
I’d also like to allow users to be able use their ‘play’ buttons on their remote controls (as well as ‘OK’) to allow them to quickly play the latest recordings both from the popup or the main list.
 
 
Progress on the Big Screen Guy..
 
I also complained last time about not knowing what to do with the big screen guy.. I figured tv arials etc were too hard to draw – so I went for something even simpler – a red dot!…
 
My first effort was as follows :
 

 
 
Then I got this feeling that people would maybe think I’d drawn a tellytubby – or worse – the red dot was actually something ‘rude’ …..
 
So I worked up my courage – and managed to draw another red dot… (to represent the series record) – this time replacing the big screen guy’s head..
 
 

 
I’m quite happy with this one now (ok the line thickness etc is all over the place) – but the general concept is there.
 
Ok – I’m going to get back to coding again – so hope you enjoy the new screenshots!
 
Thanks again to everyone who commented – and keep them coming (even if I don’t get your request in for the first beta – I can start to ensure the addin’s design will allow for it in a future version)…
 
 
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Written by mobilewares

December 9, 2006 at 7:49 am

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