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What would you do with a Democracy extension system?

December 15th, 2006 by Nicholas Reville

We’re thinking of making an extension system for Democracy Player (like Firefox has). But we want to try to gauge whether there is real interest in making extensions and what kind of extensions people would be most likely to make, so that we know what functionality needs to be possible to modify.

So… what kind of extension would you like to see for Democracy Player? If you’re a developer, do you think that you would make an extension? Ultimately, the question is: should we put some of our developers’ time into making this possible? It’s up to you– leave us a comment.

36 Responses to “What would you do with a Democracy extension system?”

  1. I don’t know what and if I’d *do* anything with it, but have you looked at NetNewsWire Pro’s ability to “subscribe” to a locally running script or program that outputs RSS?

    totally contrived example: a program that connects to a pop server, downloads any multimedia attachments, and outputs a Media RSS feed. Point Democracy at that program, and you’ve got a video inbox.

    Actually, that’s not so contrived. I kinda want that ;)

  2. Grant says:

    Extensions sound great, but how about the ability to increase font sizes in the Linux version? Anyone using Democracy on Linux on a TV knows what I’m talking about. Not being able to increase those fonts is crippling Democracy’s usability for me.

  3. Marius says:

    As suggested by Ross, a plugin could allow you to create a virtual channel for example. It could do this by scrapping a web page, scanning a local mail box, a remote POP3 mail box, a newsgroup, etc.

    Also, plugins could act as filters for channels, either editing the items or removing some of them.

    Or you could have a virtual channel plugin that scans several real channels and then extracts only some items. Basically this would combine existing channels and retain only some items (keyword search for example).

  4. Go for it! How could it possibly be a waste of your developers’ time if it opens up the platform to further development and adoption?

    To me it seems Democracy Player is a perfect example of an application that many users would prefer to “ship” with a small footprint and small feature set and extend by adding only the features that they intend to use.

    And in answer to your other question, yes; I would gladly contribute an extension or two.

  5. rebootjac says:

    If it means extensions like memory management, alternate file player ability (do to junk movie encodings), or even OPML support… count me in.

    Anything that could make it easier for me to customize my experience and this program will be a good step in the right direction. The name of the game in today’s age is customizability and openess. Extensibility is a good idea.

    However, you need to make the basic underlying program stable enough first so that developers can be inspired to add functions on top of it.

    Adding more on top of something that is not stable is NEVER a good idea (Jenga anyone?)

    Democracy is not stable. In fact, the sad truth is that I am growing both accustomed and frustrated in having it literally choke on my feedlist. Some videos, in fact, have never ran or played correctly no matter the version I try.

    Obviously, something is wrong if the same videos that I have problems with in Democracy run fine on the same player engine that Democracy uses (VLC) ouside of Democracy.

  6. m--s says:

    Extensions? The possibilities are endless…

    * keyboard-only control of all functions (including the player functions); this is essential for disabled people IMHO
    * extending the built in browser with at least some of the right click functionality
    * maybe the use of external player instead of the trimmed-down VLC
    * allowing more control for power users, I mean something like about:config, but also “view source”, etc…
    * import/export functionality

    Everything described above shouldn’t be made available by default, because it will confuse novice and non-geek users. Availability as extension, however, is completely different story. So… do not hesitate… GO FOR IT! :)

    Of course, I also fully support the above comment (made by rebootjac).

  7. j says:

    i dont think dtv is stable or complex enough to justify extensions, the focus should rather be on getting the basics right. its not to hard starting to work on new features within dtv right now, also modularity as it is done with the 2 playback engines on linux is possible without extensions.

  8. børge says:

    I own a Meizu Mini Player (M6) DAP (“mp3-player). It is great for watching videos, but it’s a little tricky to convert videos for it. I’m also a huge fan of the show with ze frank and I would love it if Democracy could automatically convert those videos for use on my Mini Player (and even also automatically transfer them to my player when it’s connected). I think extensions is the best way to do this, because then you could have one extension to convert videos for use on iPods, one to convert videos for use on Creative Zen, one for Meizu Mini Player, etc. That would be awesome!

  9. pete says:

    Absolutely no unless democracy 1.0 is out and it runs flawlessly on todays distibutions (linux). Every release is said to be _much_ better than the one before, however I really don’t feel it that way. They are always better, but something else goes wrong. What we need first is a bulletproof player (because what’s already implemented is very cool and enough for now), _then_ think about extensions.
    On Ubuntu at least, DP always crashes, plays the videos without audio, and playing audio-only files looks and feels very unfinished.

    My point is: I wouldn’t implement such things just yet, would concentrate on bug fixing first, the player is very cool as it is (minus the bugs which make me have to play the video/audio externally etc.)

  10. ben says:

    Just so folks know, we are thinking about extensions now because it’s a big topic and we wanted to get community feedback on what people would do with the extensions before deciding if it’s something we want. We definitely won’t do it before 1.0.

    I think a lot of suggestions so far are quite cool. The idea of using a script as a virtual channel is awesome, and it seems like folks can think of really good uses for it. Also a plugin system for export/import filters like børge suggests would be nice.

    I’d like to hear if anyone has ideas for extensions that alter the UI more. Firefox gives extensions the ability to hook into the xul chrome in all kinds of crazy ways. Can people think of ideas that would need that kind of extensibility?

  11. Joshua King says:

    The main use I’d have for it is to integrate a ‘Democracy-To-Go’ system where I could have a device profile which triggers an (optional, selectable per channel) encode (using external tools) of incoming video to a format playable for my portable device (in my case, my mobile phone) so that they are ready for transfer when I plug my phone in a press a button somewhere.

    The ability someone mentioned of allowing extensions to create virtual channel pages in the UI means the script could (within a channel folder) have Ready to Transfer and On Portable Device views.

    As for hooking deeper than that, I’d love Democracy to interact better with my Apple Remote (Mac OS X version) so that could be a ‘deep extension’.

  12. Aaron says:

    I like the idea, but second the comments about stability. Because I’ve begun using Democracy to organize my videos (including those not downloaded from feeds) I’d like to be able to create/edit the meta data about those videos. If that was built-in or just hookable to an extension I might try to hack something up.

    I hope you create a killer platform. The firefox extension community is incredible and even a small fraction of that innovation for Democracy would rock.

  13. perrin says:

    An extension that would “convert to ipod video” and then toss it into itunes for you.

  14. Nick says:

    Perhaps we should worry about creating an easy to use and implementable way to embed broadcast machine / democracy metadata / media rss more easily first. If there were a killer way to get media rich rss onto our show websites it might help more than extensions!

  15. Ronaldo Nadaf says:

    I think a extension system will be usefull for diferent proposes…
    For web sites videos, for exemple, they can make a extension to navigate, select, download and burn video files (sold or free)….

  16. I’m all for it, so long as some pre-requisites are set in stone. Firstly, unlike Firefox, speed and stability should come first, and foremost. Firefox seemed patchy on my old G3, crashing randomly and taking as long as 8 mins to start. Secondly, as long as no key features are moved from the current player to plugins, then I don’t mind. Personally though, I would prefer a way to specify which external player to use, as I’ve several, and on my Mac, QT7 doesn’t always handle the MPEG4 stuff too well, whereas DivX plays best through Mplayer, so being able to say ‘use X player for .avi’ wuld be my most wanted feature.

  17. Joe says:

    Sounds like it would speed up XboxMediaCenter support. This would be absolutely AMAZING. XBMC is the perfect interface for viewing all of my Democracy subscribed content to my TV.

  18. HEY U says:

    Hey, I would like some thing along the lines of a plugin, both for it, and then maybe for firefox to run it in, any ways, a plugin that could created a constant upload from your specified drive!

    Oh i need some major help, so if you could send me an email (its a not monitored box, but i can geta your mail from it, then prevent spam to my monitored one if that makes sense)

    Anyway, I need help with the torrent feauture, the email box is uploads@psp-temple.com Thanks! I realy want this to work!

  19. Patrick says:

    I think that DTV is quite stable on the system, however some functionality seems to be missing and would be great to add. Extensions would be great if it could expose things like the backend (I would like to be able to tweak torrents, for example.)

    I think you guys are doing a great job and the idea is coming along quite well. Now it’s a matter of getting stability and then extension will allow people to tweak things.

    I’m sure depending on how well you can extend DTV you’re going to find people tweaking it and doing things with it you didn’t expect. (Integration with MythTV, transcoding, plugins, viewing streams come to mind.)

  20. Nathan Jones says:

    I’m not an extensions developer, but since you’re asking about UI changes, here’s what I’m looking for in a video aggregator: The ability to see the text/html of an article in a feed, not just the video (enclosure) itself. Also the ability to see the video in it’s original size, not stretched to fit the screen.

    For “Internet TV” shows, especially hi-res video that is intended to be watched on a TV, stretching the video to take up the whole window or screen is appropriate; but what about video blogs? A video blog might carry a text blurb, links, etc. with each video. And it might also have articles with audio, or no enclosures at all.

    Democracy will give me the first bit of an article’s text in the list of videos for a channel. FireAnt will give me article’s text in a small, non-resizeable area under the video. Why can’t I see the whole thing like an actual blog post?

    To further describe my ideal interface, it would be something like the layout used by Opera and by Alesti.org (maybe I should suggest that Opera support auto-downloading/caching of enclosures). A left pane lists feeds, a top frame lists articles/posts, and a bottom frame shows the contents of the selected article. Plus options to play at full screen/window.

  21. Josh Hight says:

    Other than the obvious lawsuits that you’d immediately be slapped with and the painstaking hand-written (perhaps not) parsing you’d have to do, why not extend it to download network television episodes?

  22. Ryan says:

    A plugin to allow folks to add their own type of “Video Search” would be useful. For example, maybe I want to add an ebaumsworld.com search.

  23. Tony says:

    I’d like to say that I am very impressed with Democracy Player 9.2.x

    Minimize-to-Tray so the player is out of site while downloading, but with a mini video window to watch while I work

  24. David Fraser says:

    There could be extensions for other media types – images (searching flickr etc), sound (searching magnatunes)

  25. Matt says:

    Would this mean a extension that takes a live stream and create it into a channel (eg.A RooTV stream) then you would watch it in the player? Just an idea.

  26. asrael says:

    Do you know the gspace extension for firefox? There could be an extension which allowed me to conect a video storaged in my gmail acount through gspace to a website using democracy?

  27. Nick Normal says:

    I don’t even use democracy player yet, so why even respond?

    Well, I would say that the main reason I migrated from Opera to Firefox was because of what people were telling me about FF’s extensions – I got so excited, I’ve not only migrated but I haven’t looked back.

    The mere existence of extensions for DP will help spread the word and hopefully get more people interested. For now I just read your feeds.

    Cheers!

  28. Tom D says:

    I would make an extension to submit videos found online to video bomb, Broadcaster Machine. There are so many videos on youtube, google and Rededit. It would be great to streamline the submission process to a personalized RSS mechanism. This would really help the concept of a personalized channel. Something similar to the extension “JustBlogIt” but for Democracy.

    Best, Tom.

  29. Jadon says:

    I’d think the best things to put in extensions are the ones that depend on other folks APIs. Otherwise, you should just incorporate the features in Democracy itself.

    Top features I’d want to put in an extension:
    1) Better integration with social bookmarking applications (ie. select a video or feed to share on del.icio.us).
    2) Integration with blogging sites to allow sharing of home videos. This would need to include publishing a tracker and RSS feed.
    3) Synchronization with portable media players, like iPods.
    4) Interaction with transcoding services and tools for archival, home network, media players, and Internet redistribution.
    5) Support for P2P-based feeds using JXTA P2PSockets.

    General features I’d like to see that *could* be done as a plug-in:
    1) SSE support to synchronize OPML reading lists (and reading status) with other RSS aggregation tools and blogs.
    2) Better support for multiple formats from a single feed.
    3) Support for more formats.
    4) In-browser viewing (Democracy running in the background and as a plug-in).
    5) Support for test blogs.

    If you pay me for a while, I can do these things for you. :-)

  30. ropib says:

    1) Cool interface to read DVD
    2) Synchronisation between some clients (like google sync)
    3) Skins
    4) Choose a session to launch with the application (and faster launch)

  31. Evan says:

    I’ve been waiting for OMPL support for eternity.

  32. Henry says:

    I’d develop a plug-in that will re-encode any video into cell-phone-friendly 3GP!

  33. Like many others I would be interested in OPML import/export. Also a very simply extension that ties in with the need to leave Democracy running for as long as possible to facilitate BitTorrent, would be the MinimizeToTray extension that is popular with all Mozilla XUL based software.

  34. hamish says:

    Here is a wright up of something we would like.

    The Playlist generator

    We need a generalized set of set of rules so we can tweak them, its important NOT to write hard coded solution otherwise it will not work.

    Loads all the meta data into a database then parses a channel template through the database of content meta data to create a “fuzzy logic” playlist every time you press the play button.

    - with hardcode play links

    - subject and gonra

    - quality

    - etc….

    When you press the play button it creates a playlist depending on what time/day you are in the channel template so that you can have a full 7 day schedule.

    * We need some way of “embedding” the video meta data into the video file or RSS feed?

    * We need a way of creating a channel template – we need a data format

    * We need a playlist generator which takes the meta data from the videos and the template and creates the playlist.

  35. Joe Root says:

    I would definitely love to see an Apple Remote plugin implemented, as in my opinion thats one of the big flaws for mac users.

  36. [...] What would you do with a D&#101mocracy &#101&#120t&#101&#110sio&#110 syst&#101m? « Miro … [...]

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