01/26/2019 UPDATE: Build 20190126 has been released! This version corrects a data type conversion issue with the multi-monitor feature.
I am in the process of transitioning my own home setup away from Windows Media Center. You can read about it here and what this will mean for the Amazon and Netflix addins.
Version: 1.1 Build 20190126
Installer: Click here to download the latest version
Updates/Fixes in Build 20190126
- Fixed data type conversion issue with multi-monitor feature
When reporting issues with the software, please see the FEEDBACK section of the PDF file included with the installer. I will need the requested diagnostic information and the plugin.log file.
Welcome Streamers! This page will serve as the home for my latest project – a replacement application for the aging Netflix plugin in Windows Media Center 7 and 8.x. The project is in the very early stages but I wanted to share my goals/objectives and document the progress.
- Create a Windows Media Center 7/8x compatible plugin to render the Netflix native web experience inside Media Center
- Optimize some of the native web elements for the 10-foot experience
Secondary Goals include the addition of an on-screen keyboard when logging in and using feature such as Search.
While my last streaming plugin (AmazonMCE) was a full Media Center native application (with the exception of the SilverLight player), this application will be a WinForm application with a MCML registration and launch point. Why? Because Netflix no longer provides the casual developer access to their API.
This approach has both advantages and disadvantages. The key advantage is that we’re just calling the web-based Netflix application via a web browser embedded in a WinForm app. I don’t need to worry about API access, designing a UI, getting access to their encrypted streams, etc. The primary downside is that the web application is not remote-friendly – and that is where the bulk of my work now resides – building a remote-control library that I can inject into their page and have it do the navigation, selection and playback controls we all expect a native WMC app to do.
Here is a short video showing the current progress of the Remote Control JS library. In this demo I can arrow-down to the first row of videos, select the first one (which is highlighted in red) and then I can invoke the Play function by clicking OK on the remote.
Still a lot to do. I am currently working on finishing the page ‘map’ so I know how to apply the remote-control functionality. Also beginning work on the MCML registration point. If my schedule cooperates I hope to have something in the way of a Beta release by November.
I haven’t decided yet if this addin will be free (funded by donations) or if there will be an app fee. If I decide there needs to be a cost for the addin it will be minimal – under $5 probably. Donations are always appreciated though – and if you choose to donate now towards this project and I end-up charging a fee, you will receive a copy at no additional charge.
September 29 Updates
So one thing I have heard from the community is that they want a better way to search content on the app. The on-screen keyboard is nice – but let’s be honest – it’s not ideal or ‘cool’ in any way.
Now I know some of you just use the mobile or web client to queue up things to watch in your wish lists – and that is certainly an option. But I had a thought on the way home… we all have some kind of mobile device with a really nice screen and keyboard – how about a small app that interfaces with the new Netflix Media Center app so you can do searching. I put together a quick proof-of-concept to test the viability (this is not a static mockup – these are screenshots of it actually working):
So above is the new Search App running on my iPhone 6. It is a web-based mobile app that is served by the NetflixMCE app itself. It should work on all modern smartphones, tablets and web browsers – but obviously optimized for the mobile touch-enabled devices.
You enter what you want to watch and click ‘Search’. The query is sent back to the NetflixMCE app running on your Media Center PC and it passes the search text into the Netflix web app:
Once the search results are visible, you can navigate to your desired choice and start watching. The app may have even more uses – as soon as I dream them up.
What do you think? Good idea? Not worth it? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!
October 4 Updates
Quick update on my progress with the new Netflix app. The majority of my time this session has been spent on building the MCML shell application that will launch the new Netflix web experience. That work is essentially complete. Here are some screenshots:
Above: The NetflixMCE EntryPoint
Above: The Netflix Splash Screen
As you can see I also began some work on the artwork. These images should be considered preliminary; may have to steer clear of any trademark issues:
Above: EntryPoint Active Card
Above: EntryPoint Inactive Card
The Netflix Search mobile app is also functional and feature-complete for the beta. It’s working really well – and even has the wife’s seal of approval for ease of use – so that’s something.
Above: Netflix Search App Icon
Above: App installed on Home Screen
Biggest challenge is (no surprise) the remote control stuff. Having some problems injecting my library into the player page – but I think I will have that solved shortly.
Stay tuned for more!
October 11 Updates
Work is continuing on the Remote Control Library. I successfully tested one approach – with full left-right-up-down movement (and play) on the main Netflix Browse page – however the many HTML5 animations and dynamic loading of content as you scroll left-right is proving difficult to reliably code for. I am now experimenting with various user-agent strings – as Netflix renders their application differently for different types of browsers and versions. So far it appears their IE8 rendering has the least baggage and is fairly easy to manipulate.
Good news is I don’t see any major roadblocks yet – so development continues.
November 1 Updates
Work is proceeding well towards the release of the beta. The remote control library is coming along nicely. Basic navigation of the movie grid and the basic player controls – stop, play/pause etc. are working. Still have to code for Netflix page errors and other navigation elements.
Here is a video of the beta in action (video quality is low due to recording codec):
Still on target for releasing the beta sometime in November.
One element that will probably not make the beta will be the switching of profiles – especially the ‘Kids’ profile as it uses a totally different UI.
November 14 Updates
The wait is over! The BETA version is ready for you guys to play with!
Be sure to read the Release Notes (included in the ZIP file) BEFORE installing the product.
This isn’t finished yet! Still have some UI improvements and CSS to work on; code cleanup; support for profiles and enhancements to the new Remote Control library. Plus – any ideas or feedback you guys come up with.
NOTE: After releasing the BETA I noticed a few minor things I wanted to correct; an updated file (Build 20151114) is now posted.
November 24 Updates
It’s been busy ten days! First – a big thank you to all those who have donated to the project and for testing the BETA. As expected, there were some glitches – especially around remote controls; but I think we’re past the worst of it.
So what’s next… The three primary goals (see above) have been achieved. Now comes the refinements, tweaks, fixes and – naturally – more functionality.
Stage 2 Goals
- Improve branding/css
- Support other actions – like jump to next episode
- Support for profiles
I believe once the Stage 2 goals are achieved we will have our first non-beta quality release. I’m giving myself 60-90 days on this stage’s work – as I have other commitments coming up. There will be more BETA releases in the interim as I improve things and add new functionality.
Please continue to send me the all-important FEEDBACK reports. Thank you!
December 2016 Updates
Here are some screen shots of the updated branding and search functionality: