Introducing EPG123

An evolving, supported alternative to Rovi
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★ Download the latest EPG123 here: http://epg123.garyan2.net <> Setup guide here: http://epg123.garyan2.net/downloads/epg123_Guide.pdf

Introducing EPG123

Post#1 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:43 am

So I, like everyone else here, have been very disappointed with Microsoft's decision to move to Rovi for their guide data. Even 7 months after the transition I am not impressed with Rovi's performance ... in fact it scares me to death. I started researching alternatives and found quite a few. Some were good, some were bad, none were perfect, but all had some learning value for me. I gathered a mash of miscellaneous tools to create an xmltv file for me and created my own program to convert the xmltv file to the Microsofts mxf format. I had already been introduced to Schedules Direct for my emby server so I knew where to get good quality data for my guide. What I didn't know was just how much information sd provided and I wanted it all.

There are a few other posts on this forum that teased of bringing to the community some software that would provide us a tool that would give us what we had grown to expect from Zap2it. I simply got tired of waiting, so I produced my own. May I present to you EPG123.

Image

To use EPG123, just place the executable in a directory (i.e. C:\epg123) along with the Json.NET library from Newtonsoft (http://www.newtonsoft.com/json) and run it. The first run will bring up the GUI to configure your guide data. If you want to change the configuration, just execute the program with -config argument. Running the program after it has been configured will not present the GUI and automatically download the guide data and build the mxf file. If the auto import check is checked, once complete it will import into WMC and start the reindexing task. This makes it extremely friendly to creating a task around this for daily updates.

The checkboxes are pretty self explanatory, but I will note the following:

1. Using TMDb for missing cover art can slow down your file creation since this is more internet traffic, but it may be worth it. There is a small percentage of movies without art from sd, so this is to fill those empty places.

2. The logo override is fixed on ... you cannot change it. I really just wanted some place to detail this capability. Any logo you put in the .\logos directory (i.e. C:\epg123\logos) with the same Call Sign that is being downloaded will be used instead of the logos available from sd. The logos from sd are not optimized for WMC so can be difficult to see. Quite a few of my logos are from My Channel Logos (http://www.mychannellogos.com), but it looks like they raised their price for the software to $10. If you want, you could create your own logos by editing images from wikipedia or elsewhere.

I have done some testing on this code for some time now, but just recently figured out a critical component to updating any program from a generic/TBD state to fully populated guide information. I say just recently, but need to send it out to the masses for test runs.

I'm still learning the message board stuff. Just post a message here or send a message for bugs, improvements, questions ... I'll try to get to them as soon as possible, but I do have a day job which sometimes goes into the night.

Official website: http://epg123.garyan2.net
Last edited by garyan2 on Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post#2 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 6:00 am

Just realized there could be some confusion with the Newtonsoft Json library file required. I built the program around the .NET 4.5 distribution, so in the zip file from Newtonsoft (http://www.newtonsoft.com/json), copy the Newtonsoft.Json.dll from the Bin\Net45 directory into the same directory as EPG123. I believe all .NET versions should work fine, but I haven't fully tested that.
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Post#3 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 8:40 am

This is awesome and I can't wait to try it out. Thank you so much! I'm so tired of the crappy Rovi junk.

You mentioned a clean start is optional. What would be the method for a"dirty "start for just switching to SD on the fly?
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Post#4 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:57 pm

Looks very promising thank you for your hard work.
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Post#5 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:11 pm

dublus wrote:This is awesome and I can't wait to try it out. Thank you so much! I'm so tired of the crappy Rovi junk.

You mentioned a clean start is optional. What would be the method for a"dirty "start for just switching to SD on the fly?


I haven't tested that yet. You can do the cutover by skipping Steps 0-1 and completing Steps 2-3 and it will work. I just don't know how well they will exist together. If you don't disconnect Rovi completely, they may still have some control of your lineup and may add/remove channels, or may even force their own programming onto a channel.

I'll set up a testbed and check out this scenario. Should have initial results pretty quickly, but long term implications will take a while. Since I am over-the-air only, my sample size is pretty small and capturing any issues is limited.
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Post#6 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:37 pm

I see marrying guide data to channels is still very much a manual affair through WMC? One time only per channel of course.

Also, how does it handle newly added channels to the lineup?
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Post#7 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 5:03 pm

STC wrote:I see marrying guide data to channels is still very much a manual affair through WMC?

The work glugglug did with the Lineup Selector (http://www.thegreenbutton.tv/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=9324&p=97540#p97439) is a quick tool. It does a good job of matching channels and lineups and I actually made sure EPG123 was supportive of that effort by including channel number and subnumbers in the lineup information. I just haven't evaluated the risk of using Lineup Selector as opposed to manually matching.

I guess I could setup another testbed and check this out as well.
Last edited by garyan2 on Sun Feb 14, 2016 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post#8 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 5:08 pm

STC wrote:Also, how does it handle newly added channels to the lineup?

EPG123 doesn't look for changes in the lineup and will only download the selected stations from the configuration GUI. If a station is added, you will need to manually go into the configuration GUI and select it for inclusion in the download.

I have thought about adding this capability, but haven't developed a strategy to handle it. Possible future capability.
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Post#9 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 5:21 pm

garyan2 wrote:
dublus wrote:This is awesome and I can't wait to try it out. Thank you so much! I'm so tired of the crappy Rovi junk.

You mentioned a clean start is optional. What would be the method for a"dirty "start for just switching to SD on the fly?


I haven't tested that yet. You can do the cutover by skipping Steps 0-1 and completing Steps 2-3 and it will work. I just don't know how well they will exist together. If you don't disconnect Rovi completely, they may still have some control of your lineup and may add/remove channels, or may even force their own programming onto a channel.

I'll set up a testbed and check out this scenario. Should have initial results pretty quickly, but long term implications will take a while. Since I am over-the-air only, my sample size is pretty small and capturing any issues is limited.

Doing just steps 2 and 3 worked just fine. The only noticeable issue is with the category searches of the guide ... there is a lot of junk in there from Rovi that makes it a real mess to look at/deal with.
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Post#10 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 5:21 pm

garyan2 wrote:I guess I could setup another testbed and check this out as well.
may be worth looking into as those with cable usually have a high number of channels available / watched.
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Post#11 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 5:22 pm

garyan2 wrote:
STC wrote:Also, how does it handle newly added channels to the lineup?

EPG123 doesn't look for changes in the lineup and will only download the selected stations from the configuration GUI. If a station is added, you will need to manually go into the configuration GUI and select it for inclusion in the download.

I have thought about adding this capability, but haven't developed a strategy to handle it. Possible future capability.


Manual is fine I think.
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Post#12 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 5:41 pm

In the past I had little success importing recording schedules from previous zap2it lineup to Rovi lineup. Now that channel IDs will match again it may work correctly. That would be another time saving plus.
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Post#13 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 5:56 pm

STC wrote:In the past I had little success importing recording schedules from previous zap2it lineup to Rovi lineup. Now that channel IDs will match again it may work correctly. That would be another time saving plus.

You'll still have that problem with this switch. I took a look at some of my recordings pre-Rovi changeover, and the Series Ids are different than what Zap2it/TMS/SD use, so there was another layer from Zap2it to WMC guide import that we don't have insight into. Looks like Rovi inherited that information and uses it, but since their implementation was so off the mark, they found a way to mess it up.

Bottom line, it will be necessary to rebuild your recording schedule. Also, any past recording history will be useless for the same reason ... program Ids are different so as for as WMC is concerned, the program is different.
Last edited by garyan2 on Sun Feb 14, 2016 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post#14 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 6:01 pm

Ahh ok bummer. Good info thanks. Commercial skip detection is going to go through the roof ;)
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Post#15 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 8:25 pm

STC wrote:
garyan2 wrote:I guess I could setup another testbed and check this out as well.
may be worth looking into as those with cable usually have a high number of channels available / watched.

Built the testbed and everything worked fine. Even removed a channel from the download and imported again with no adverse affect on what was there. Basically, the channel and the station stayed in place which is good.

I however did come up with a scenario that would not be good and changed my source code a little. I was building the unique id for the channel to the service when I should have been using the actual channel/tuning frequency. This will allow seamless changes when say the cable company decides to shuffle their lineup ... as long as all the channels already existed in your guide. For the 8 souls that have downloaded the previous version, you will probably have to do step 3 again.

I wasn't able to change the original file from the first post, so I deleted it and am including the up-to-date one here. Guess I should have set up a central download spot like dropbox.
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Post#16 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 9:13 pm

Very nice.... Thanks for creating this, very tempted to change providers myself....
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Post#17 » Mon Feb 15, 2016 2:45 am

This looks amazing, thanks for your hard work and for sharing this!

Would running ObjectStoreRecoveryTask from the task manager suffice as a replacement for steps 0 & 1?
I think this would clear out the Rovi junk in category searches, but I am not sure.
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Post#18 » Mon Feb 15, 2016 2:52 am

It may be wise having version numbers(?) to easily know if you've got the latest.
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Post#19 » Mon Feb 15, 2016 2:57 am

Space wrote:This looks amazing, thanks for your hard work and for sharing this!

Would running ObjectStoreRecoveryTask from the task manager suffice as a replacement for steps 0 & 1?
I think this would clear out the Rovi junk in category searches, but I am not sure.

That will take care of Step 0, but you will have to do step 1 again after the recovery task. If you are concerned about the registry entries, what I have done in the past is when WMC is prompting you to agree to the Program Guide TOS, I disconnect the computer from the network. Go ahead and agree to the TOS and leave it disconnected until it fails to download TV setup data like below. You will have satisfied the TOS agreement and WMC doesn't have any idea about Rovi. Before you click 'OK' on the prompt, reconnect to the network.

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Post#20 » Mon Feb 15, 2016 2:59 am

STC wrote:It may be wise having version numbers(?) to easily know if you've got the latest.

Right now I have the date on the title bar. Since I believe I have a solid foundation I will start using version numbers starting on the next build.

Current build is 2016/02/14.5 <== wasn't expecting 2 builds in the same day. :what the heck:
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