Amazon On-Demand Video Addin for Media Center

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barrg

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Amazon On-Demand Video Addin for Media Center

#1

Post by barrg » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:28 pm

Hi all,

I wanted to let you know that I have just started working on creating a Windows Media Center add-in to allow you to watch Amazon Prime streaming movies within Windows Media Center. I currently have an alpha version available for download if anyone is interested. To get more info, view some screenshots or download the software, please go to http://garethbarr.com/amazonmceaddin.

By the way, this is not a commercial offering, I am doing this because I have been frustrated at the lack of this facility for some time now.

Enjoy,



Gareth

lithium630

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#2

Post by lithium630 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:42 pm

Wow great job! I'm excited any time I see development for Media Center.

staknhalo

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#3

Post by staknhalo » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:56 pm

I don't have Prime, but I know MANY wanted a plugin for this for sometime. Great job so far and best of luck!

JAJ

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#4

Post by JAJ » Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:48 am

This could become a much needed addition to media center!

RyC

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#5

Post by RyC » Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:58 am

It looks great! It's too bad Amazon completely cripples Amazon Student Prime accounts now :(

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newfiend

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#6

Post by newfiend » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:00 am

Nice Job.. Wish I had a Amazon Prime Accont to test this with. It's GREAT to see ANYONE developing for Media Center.. So for that Thank You!
I dont see why you couldn't put this up for donation ware to help get paid for your time developing it. I think a lot of Media Center Plug-in developers get burned out trying to code for MC as it takes a lot of time and it doesn't pay well.

My Channel Logo's started out that way but it was such a much needed addition to MC that I was glad he decided to charge a minimal fee for it. It was well worth the cost and still is, plus it gives him motivation to continue developing and improving it... Just something to consider in the future if you find it takes a lot of time to develop and maintain.

I think this is a great add in.. Many people will be very happy, please continue its development. :thumbup:
Thanks!
newfiend~

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makryger

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#7

Post by makryger » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:31 am

Awesome! looking forward to trying it.
My Channel Logos XL: Get your Guide looking good! ~~~~ TunerSalad: Increase the 4-tuner limit in 7MC

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mcewinter

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#8

Post by mcewinter » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:42 pm

Thanks for giving us the option to use Prime inside of MC. I agree that you should ask a few bucks for your time. :thumbup:

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Doctor Feelgood

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#9

Post by Doctor Feelgood » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:47 pm

Wow! I am very excited to see this. I have nagged Amazon about this and scoured the web for years surprised that it didn't exist.

I will definitely test over the weekend and I look forward to the development. This is definitely something I would donate toward! (money, time, ideas, etc).

barrg

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#10

Post by barrg » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:06 pm

Thank you all for your positive reactions. I am looking forward to getting this to a more usable state.

Regarding getting paid, I appreciate the thought, however - my concern with charging for this is that:
a) I can't afford the time to provide support that you might expect for a paid product (this is a hobby, after all), and
b) I am benefiting from a number of other people's contributions -e.g. HtmlAgilityPack and JSON.NET, plus some insights from bluecop's XBMC addin, so would prefer to keep this down to people's own discretion in the hope that if they find it helpful/useful, they will make a small donation.

Thanks again, and if there is something specific that you think I should try to work on first, do let me know.

By the way - for those of you without Prime, if you do want to try this out, you can still install and login using a normal Amazon account without prime - it works the same, but will only let you view the previews/trailers. Might not be of benefit, but if you are interested in it, you can at least look at it that way!

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#11

Post by adam1991 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:18 pm

I think everyone agrees with me when I say I'm happy to throw beer and pizza money to a guy who spends time doing something that benefits me like this.

It is nice, though, that you're "paying it forward".

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#12

Post by Motz » Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:56 pm

Very nice!!! New weekend project on the HTPC to install and try out:)
I Write, Code, and Tweet

barrg

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#13

Post by barrg » Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:11 pm

By the way - I just updated this to handle playback of TV series, and note that some people are seeing an error when trying to play back - I have a temporary fix that I will roll into the install, but in the meantime you can download the fix from my site too.

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Doctor Feelgood

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#14

Post by Doctor Feelgood » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:18 pm

I tried a couple of times last night and got that error - tried again this morning and did again - I was about to comment on it when i noticed your update... LOL

It now works! And works very well!

EDIT - Oops... New error is that the files start to play, but then says that it can not play and that Flash Player may need to be updated. I did that anyway, even though it was current, and it did not help. Have you seen that before? I will test on another system later...

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woodchuck

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#15

Post by woodchuck » Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:38 pm

Very nice!!! I've been wanting this for awhile now!

barrg

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#16

Post by barrg » Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:28 pm

Doctor Feelgood wrote: Oops... New error is that the files start to play, but then says that it can not play and that Flash Player may need to be updated. I did that anyway, even though it was current, and it did not help. Have you seen that before? I will test on another system later...
Not seen that yet. Does it happen on all videos i.e. both TV and Movies? If not, can you point me to a specific case? if so, does restarting Media Center make any difference?

Also, did it actually start to show video? or did it just show the Amazon screen, then go black and give the error?

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#17

Post by richard1980 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:39 pm

it took a couple of tries to get the registry mod to work, but I finally got it. I don't have a Prime subscription, so my testing is limited to trailers. Here are my observations so far:
  • Application launch time varies. Sometimes it takes 2-3 seconds, sometimes it takes 10 seconds. Obviously, an instant launch would be ideal.
  • The add-in crashed the first time I tried to launch it. I also experienced a crash when trying to use the search function.
  • The search function has some issues. It appears to attempt to display results instantly when a query is being entered. This causes significant lag (at least on my 3Mb connection) and I believe this is the root problem with the issues I am experiencing. If I type too fast, WMC recognizes the space bar and tries to re-launch the add-in, which fails with error "Unable to launch AmazonMCEAddin". Dismissing the error message closes the add-in. Additionally, if I backspace too far, the application closes.
  • When playing a movie trailer, there is an Amazon UI on screen. The WMC UI interferes with this UI. In the lower right corner of the Amazon UI is a button that says "Fullscreen". I can move the cursor to that position and wait for the WMC UI to time out, then I can click the fullscreen button. This causes the Amazon UI to get bigger, although it also causes the WMC UI to not display. There doesn't seem to be any way to hide the Amazon UI. Additionally, when in the fullscreen mode, the back function is disabled.
  • The Amazon UI includes skip forward and skip back buttons, but the skip forward and skip back buttons on my remote do not work. Instead, I must use the left/right buttons on the remote to skip forward or back. Play, pause, and stop all function correctly.
  • On some occasions, I've noticed that video does not display. I can hear audio, but there is no video.
Those are the only problems I've noticed. Overall I'd say this is an excellent application, and I'm happy to see someone finally working on this.

barrg

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#18

Post by barrg » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:05 pm

richard1980 wrote:it took a couple of tries to get the registry mod to work, but I finally got it. I don't have a Prime subscription, so my testing is limited to trailers. Here are my observations so far:
  • Application launch time varies. Sometimes it takes 2-3 seconds, sometimes it takes 10 seconds. Obviously, an instant launch would be ideal.
  • The add-in crashed the first time I tried to launch it. I also experienced a crash when trying to use the search function.
  • The search function has some issues. It appears to attempt to display results instantly when a query is being entered. This causes significant lag (at least on my 3Mb connection) and I believe this is the root problem with the issues I am experiencing. If I type too fast, WMC recognizes the space bar and tries to re-launch the add-in, which fails with error "Unable to launch AmazonMCEAddin". Dismissing the error message closes the add-in. Additionally, if I backspace too far, the application closes.
  • When playing a movie trailer, there is an Amazon UI on screen. The WMC UI interferes with this UI. In the lower right corner of the Amazon UI is a button that says "Fullscreen". I can move the cursor to that position and wait for the WMC UI to time out, then I can click the fullscreen button. This causes the Amazon UI to get bigger, although it also causes the WMC UI to not display. There doesn't seem to be any way to hide the Amazon UI. Additionally, when in the fullscreen mode, the back function is disabled.
  • The Amazon UI includes skip forward and skip back buttons, but the skip forward and skip back buttons on my remote do not work. Instead, I must use the left/right buttons on the remote to skip forward or back. Play, pause, and stop all function correctly.
  • On some occasions, I've noticed that video does not display. I can hear audio, but there is no video.
Those are the only problems I've noticed. Overall I'd say this is an excellent application, and I'm happy to see someone finally working on this.

That is excellent feedback, thanks. Below are my comments, and I will try to incorporate some changes to address these over the next few weeks.
  • The application launch time is probably down to it fetching the categories each time. I probably need to change this to a cache, and only check fairly infrequently.
  • The first-time crash is not something I have seen, but the search crash is an issue I am aware of. I was trying to make it easier to enter, but there are a couple of things I need to improve here overall, and I think I need to have some kind of delay before submitting the search.
  • Generally, the problems around stability are likely due to not having enough error checking at this stage in the web requests, so I will work on that soon.
  • Regarding the Amazon UI, I have personally only seen that when using a mouse for control, and then it faded out after a few seconds, but I haven't really tried much with a non-prime account, except to ensure that it wouldn't accidentally charge you for the rental! I will look at this as see why it is happening. I would love to be able to get rid of this altogether, since this is the one piece that keeps it from working on extenders, but at the moment I am having to use their flash container.
  • Interesting ref the forward and back skip buttons. I thought I had that working, but will go and check.
  • Regarding the audio but no video, is that ever consistent? or entirely inconsistent? i.e. are there some titles that don't play right? or is it just completely random?
Also, for anyone raising issues, I have now added a form on that same page to send problems to me - but it is equally fine to ask here, as I am monitoring this one. I would ask that if you can also let me know the platform you are working on, that would be helpful, as I haven't tried this on Windows 8 or XP at all, so have no idea if it would work!

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#19

Post by richard1980 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:28 pm

barrg wrote:Regarding the Amazon UI, I have personally only seen that when using a mouse for control, and then it faded out after a few seconds
I can get the WMC UI to fade with no problem, but the Amazon UI does not fade. I can also see that there is video behind the Amazon UI. Perhaps this is specific to non-Prime users.
barrg wrote:Interesting ref the forward and back skip buttons. I thought I had that working, but will go and check.
I'm not sure if this makes a difference, but I'm using a Harmony 300 with a standard IR receiver.
barrg wrote:Regarding the audio but no video, is that ever consistent? or entirely inconsistent? i.e. are there some titles that don't play right? or is it just completely random?
It's completely random as far as I can tell. I don't think it's an issue with Flash because I haven't experience this kind of issue on YouTube or any other flash sites.

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#20

Post by barrg » Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:31 pm

richard1980 wrote:I'm not sure if this makes a difference, but I'm using a Harmony 300 with a standard IR receiver.
Interestingly, I checked this myself, and it isn't working for me either - could have sworn that I did have it working. Oh well, will add it to the todo list! Thanks

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