Plex Blog

February 13, 2008

Release 0.1.1: Baby steps

This release is Intel/Leopard only.

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get this next release out; the weather here has been great, and the call of real life has been strong, with all of the nuances and commitments of paid work, dog walking, cooking, and socializing.

The new release can be found here. I’ve tried to focus on a few core areas:

  • Graphics quality: With the help of d4rk (him doing the hard stuff and me just filling in the bits and pieces), YUV to RGB conversion should now be perfect, both on low-end video hardware (GMA950) and higher end video hardware. In practical terms, this means blacks are really black, and whites are really white. No more washed out looking video. Next up is higher quality video upscaling.
  • Also along these lines, I’ve improved the SDL video mode selection code to be a bit smarter about picking modes, and now I consistently get 1080p output from both my machines, whereas before I only got 1080i. I’m not sure whether to blame OS X or SDL.
  • OS X experience: People running OS X applications expect certain things, and I’ve tried to move XBMC closer to those expectations. Notably, log files are written to /var/tmp, and user data and profiles are accessed at ~/Library/Application Support/XBMC. This means that you can upgrade by simply replacing the application, without worrying about overwriting files.
  • N.B. For this release, before you overwrite the application, you may want to move your UserData folder and your guisettings.xml to ~/Library/Application Support/XBMC, and your Keymap.xml to ~/Library/Application Support/XBMC/UserData. Alternatively, you can simply let the first run of XBMC create reasonable defaults. This is what it should look like if you want to move things around:
  • Similarly, I’ve tweaked a few of those reasonable defaults. Under OS X, thumbnails default to 512×512 pixels (thanks to Martin Blom for the tip), video resolution defaults to 720p, and audio settings have been subtly tweaked to help ensure people don’t get fast video and do get sound output when possible. (Downmixing has not been implemented!)
  • Second Screen Support: If you’re running the second (or third, if you’re Al Gore) display to your HDTV, you’ll be happy to know that you can now run fullscreen to a display which is not the primary one. Unfortunately, you have to do it through setting some environment variables. Setting SDL_VIDEO_FULLSCREEN_DISPLAY=2 results in fullscreen video going to your second display. Also, if you set SDL_SINGLEDISPLAY=1, this means your primary display is not blanked, so you can see incoming email or whatever it is you do while XBMC is running. You’ll need to either start XBMC from the command line, or logout and then back in again having set those environment variables. I think.
  • Bugfixes: A number of bugs have been fixed, both by myself and by the other XBMC team members. Playing consecutive videos after each other will work even if you haven’t stopped the first one. Thread safety issues have been addressed in background thumbnailing (solving various crashes). The first frame of video no longer displays before it’s ready.
  • When adding sources, all mounted volumes will now be displayed for your convenience. This makes adding sources much easier.
  • Videos with AAC audio should now play that audio.

A few other notes, unrelated to the release:

  • I’ve retired my Xbox. That’s right, XBMC is solid enough on OS X that I packed up my loyal Xbox and carried it out to the garage. Not having it there will free up room and inspire me to work on getting MAME support in there.
  • We’re looking for talented developers. Gamester17 wrote up a nice press release. If you’re interested in getting involved, please drop me an email, or come visit on IRC.
  • We’re interested in keeping track of the Apple hardware purchases that have been made because of XBMC. We figure this might help keep us in good standing with Apple, and plus it’s cool to know. So if you’ve bought a piece of Apple hardware to run XBMC on, drop us a line. We’ll post statistics to the blog.
  • Last, but not least, a big thank you to all who have donated. The money really helps us pay for the bandwidth, and bits of hardware to test with (i.e. controllers). We really appreciate it.

Oh, and for some reason RSS feeds seem to be broken in this release.

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