Bad experience for a first time user of XBMC

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spoco2 Offline
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Sad  Bad experience for a first time user of XBMC
Post: #1
Hi all,

I had to write this to point how unwieldy and unfriendly xmbc is to use and setup the first time.

* Install, no issue, all fine, start up the app and am greeted by the menu nice and quickly. Cool.
* OK, how to I add my media... oh, I see, here in videos there is an add source link. Righto, I'll select that, point it at my movies and say it's of type 'Movies' and click ok... nice. And I'll do that again and point it at my tv shows and say it's of type 'TV Shows'... all good. OK, one more time, I'll point it at my folder of videos I've made with the kids, and select type... um... erm, it's not TV, it's not Movies, it's just videos. No, it's not 'NONE', why would I create a source and label it 'NONE' that's just silly.
* Ok... now I want to look at my movies and tv shows. Um, it's showing me folders... that's very bland. How do I get it to show the files in a pretty way with art etc.? OK, go to the wiki... oh, I have to switch it to library mode. Right... done.
* Now I can't see anything, where are my movies? Where are my TV Shows? I can't see anywhere that it's doing anything, I can't tell it's scanning, I can't tell it's getting info. What is it doing, why can't I see my stuff?

Some time later and looking at the wiki etc.

* It would seem I need to tell it to scan my media into the library... why wouldn't that be on by default? Who would want their media in there without having it in the library? Even with there being valid reasons for not wanting to, the DEFAULT should be that it scans it.

* OK, now I can see my movies and tv shows, but why do the icons/banners/posters for all of them keep coming and going and being the wrong size for the things they are being put into? Why do are they blank each time I come into the tv or movie screen? Why are they not downloaded and just 'there'... this is very odd. They seem to redownload every time I come into the page, that can't be right (noticed with default and 'Alaska' skins)

* And I'm not seeing any episode screen shots

* And I'm only seeing fan art occasionally for movies, this is all very odd.

* My music scanning seems to have stopped and I don't know how to see how far through it thinks it is, or how to tell it to continue to scan.

* How to do ANYTHING of a setup nature on any of the folders is REALLY not intuitive, why would I press C? How do I know exactly which folder I should be pressing C on anyway? Why is there not some page I can go to to check on the status of the library for each of my sources and tell it to rescan or fix or continue or whatever? Why am I forced to guess at whether the scan is still going or thinks it's finished, or encountered an error? Why?



So... yeah. NOT a happy experience. I have been using MediaPortal for years now and never had this sort of pain in setting up. The clear split between the configuration application and the actual running application makes things a lot more clear and a lot more tailored to their purpose. The configuration app is very clear when it's done it's media scans (yes, you have to download plugins to do your tv show scraping and movie scraping, that's not there out of the box, but once you have they are a doddle to use), when it's had issues, how you might like to change the movie or tv show it thinks it's found etc. Same with music library.

I applaud the attempt at trying to make XBMC fully usuable and configurable using just the remote, I guess that comes from it originally being on the XBox, but to have the ONLY way to get to those features be by pressing 'C' or a button on a remote that is different from remote to remote, and is not hinted at anywhere in the interface is just downright not intuitive, not friendly and enough to make you (well, me) just give up.

And then, when I thought I was getting somewhere, and I could see my shows and movies, I could never get it to actually keep showing the posters or banners of them, why was it doing that? And why was it using banner sized images when it was in poster display mode or vice versa? It's all a case of NO feedback, BAD defaults and design decisions that seem to have been made without thinking at all how someone new to the app would possibly work out how to use it.

So, yeah... I tried it again because the Android App for controlling it is really quite awesome, and MediaPortal really has nothing to compare (iPimp is web based so not as tailored), but after a couple of hours of trying to get it anywhere near where I've got my MediaPortal setup I've given up, and been reminded why I gave up on XBMC the last time I tried to set it up.

Please guys, you have a pretty awesome looking project here that is being REALLY let down by its method of config and feedback on processes (scanning, scraping, downloading etc.).

And it's that initial hurdle that kills off further use I'm afraid.
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htpc guy Offline
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Post: #2
Its really a bummer that you are giving up because it really is a wonderful program.

Here are a few tips to make things easier.

  • Bookmark the wikki. Any issues can be reslved by searching thorugh it.
  • Use the search button in the forums. Its a great way to find the info for your problem.
  • User Ember Media Manager. It creates the nfo files and generate wonderful fanart for your movies

Finally refer to the stickies in the forums.

How to use Git
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SeeDrs Offline
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Post: #3
I think its the greatest program ever! Big Grin
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supmu Offline
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Post: #4
As someone who bounced from Plex to Boxee and then finally to XBMC, I have to say you are completely wrong. Compared to either of those programs, XBMC was amazingly easy to use.

It sounds like YOU are the one who is stuck on his ways with MediaPortal, and can't put in the 5 minutes of effort it takes to get XBMC to work.
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spoco2 Offline
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Post: #5
I had looked through those threads, which is how I got the thing even partially running. My main gripe is just how hard it is to get running without using those.

It really shouldn't be, it has pretty defined goals with adding media to it... it's straight video (No lookup, just create thumbnails, let me view the videos), or tv shows, or movies.

And a page which gives information about status of scraping and downloading and fanart etc. would be HUGELY useful.

It really is so close to being there, and I'd LOVE to be able to switch over to it just for the awesome Android App...

Just needs simple holding hand help on setup, and easier access to settings thereafter (without needing to remember which key to use), that's mostly it.
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fishypops Offline
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Post: #6
I second all of the OP's comments. I am not stupid, but have really really struggled with this. The WAF factor is really really low right now.
I am using Ember, but am stricken with movies not showing up, and with movies showing up twice. I run automated scans and clean library etc multiple times.

I am going to persevere but in comparison to WMC with Media Browser, this is very very difficult.
(This post was last modified: 2010-11-16 03:45 by fishypops.)
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PatK Offline
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Post: #7
I too had trials and tribulations, the only thing that held me on point was the video mode and how easy it was to install and get up to running speed. But the herculean effort to show graphics and get everything into said library is quite much for the average mortal, but in the end the reward is there...

After all, for the most part... just clicking on a video in a set of genre folders and you've got entertainment on the PC... but the trick is to make it a pleasurable experience, with tantalizing eye candy, previews, short synopsis to enhance the sizzle.... you do want the sizzle!

Sometimes I think the program would have been better handled in a modular format, with scraping, playing, library and skins. But you have to look at the history to understand what it was, and were it's going... I think the developers have seen this and are now limiting the platforms, skins, official add-ons etc with a set of standards. Built from scratch to-day it might be a whole whack better but how many developers would be on board?

I just feel a little guilty when I upload a debug, need to pare the collection.
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spoco2 Offline
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Post: #8
Yeah, I actually think it'd be a whole lot easier to have a single page for setting up your video folders, and setting their content type and managing their scraper settings etc.

For instance.

The first time you open the video page it can say 'You have no video shares enabled, would you like to go to settings->shares->video now?' one click, and you're on a page for setting up each of your shares and their settings, where they can ALL be listed in a table format for easier manipulation and checking on scraping status etc. No need for ugly 'press C' to get to config panel, no need for 'Add Source' to ever be in any of the 'front end' screens (I know you can turn it off, but it shouldn't ever be there, that's config, not use)

It surely isn't that hard to split that out, it's not changing the actual structure of how things are defined etc. just changing how and where you edit the settings.

Keep day to day usage of the app in one area (the main interface), and keep config of those areas ALL within the Settings area. Then each display area has ONE way of interacting with it, ONE goal, not this mish mash of admin and use all rolled into one confusing interface.
(This post was last modified: 2010-11-16 04:43 by spoco2.)
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d'Wooluf Offline
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Post: #9
You might have forgotten what a pain MediaPortal was to set up. I don't recall it as being a pleasurable experience. I'll go back and have another crack when they release version 2, but until then I'm over it. I kind of agree with some of your comments. Maybe an appropriate message when the user selects library mode and the library is empty? Bear in mind the origins of the app, the target audience of tinkerers and enthusiasts. You're kind of expected to refer to the forums and the Wiki.
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natethomas Offline
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Post: #10
At the risk of restating the obvious, most issues SHOULD be resolved if you follow the steps outlined in the quickstart guide.

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=XBM...tart_Guide

The reason scanning into the library isn't on by default is, mostly, because people have home videos like yourself. It'd be a major problem if XBMC spent 20 minutes scanning and trying to figure out what all the home video names are. As it is, you can add your folders, you can watch your videos, and everything should basically work even if you haven't added a single thing to the library, and the presumption is ALWAYS that a person is more likely to screw something up by default than not.

As for the banners coming and going... I've got no idea. That's never happened to me. I suppose you could always upload a debug log.

I think the long story short, here, is that you are used to the MediaPortal interface. I actually just tried going through the install procedure for that for the TV-Server, and discovered it at least as insanely confusing as you are apparently finding XBMC. We have preconceived notions about how these things are supposed to play out. When they don't do what we expect, we get irritated and frustrated.

As for the C button, honestly, XBMC is designed to be used with a remote. We've included the C button to lead to the context menu as a hack (for wont of a better word) for computer users. In a perfect world, you would never have to use a keyboard to interact with XBMC. In the Linux environment using lirc, that's often the case. Ditto when using XBMC Live. It's only when using XBMC in Windows that confusion happens.

d'Wooluf has kind of a good point though. A quick message suggesting a scan to the library when entering an empty library might not be a terrible idea.

Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.

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spoco2 Offline
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Post: #11
No, I do remember that Media Portal was no walk in the park, but then there were guides online that stepped me through it exactly and it worked as expected after following them.

The guides here do highlight the things that the xbmc interface do not make at all obvious, and as said they got me to the point where it kind of works. But why doesn't it tell you anywhere the status of the scans. It is supposed to tell you in the info panel at the top of the screen, and it did for a while, but then went away, and then I'm left not knowing if it thinks it's finished scanning or if it had an issue, or needs a restart or anything. FEEDBACK is what this is lacking, in a big way.

At least in Media Portal, in the TV Series and Movie plugins you have a clear indication of the state of the scans, what they believe to be the entirety of your library and the easy ability to quickly rescan for anything they may have missed. I see nothing like that in xbmc.

Also, why are the three content types for videos 'Movies', 'TV Shows' and 'None', and can I see the 'None' while still seeing the other two, because doesn't having the system in library mode hide anything not in the library (which would be all those videos I have that are not tv shows or movies)? It really does not make it clear how to set up display modes on a per share basis and then show these easily in the main menu.
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spoco2 Offline
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Post: #12
FishOil Wrote:Jesus Christ.....how do you find your way to the bathroom without GPS?

And how do you communicate with anyone without being a smug git?

Really, how does a comment like that help anyone?

My post is trying to demonstrate how frustrating xbmc is to set up... coming from someone who has programmed computers since 1983, and still does as a living.

I do know tech, I do know software, and I know a bad interface when I see one.

ONCE you get xbmc setup I can see it can be a great way to access your media, but the initial setup is horrible. It's not intuitive, it gives little to no feedback, and does not gear itself to the primary use people probably want from it.

Comments like yours are how projects like this never get better 'Oh bugger off, I finally worked it out after wringing my hair out and trial and error, and damnit, so can you, I refuse to accept that this could be made any better'

Everyone else is giving FAR more constructive feedback than you sir.
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FishOil Offline
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Post: #13
If you are going to insult me at least have the courtesy to do it in English.

I have no idea what a git or bugger is. Should I have been insulted?Big Grin
(This post was last modified: 2011-04-26 10:38 by FishOil.)
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spoco2 Offline
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Post: #14
FishOil Wrote:If you are going to insult me at least have the courtesy to do it in English.

I have no idea what a git or bugger is. Should I have been insulted?Big Grin

Ha! Git and bugger are both English insults... from the motherland (I'm not, but they are)... so I did insult you in English Big Grin

"Git is mild bad language with origins in British English for a silly, incompetent, stupid, annoying, senile elderly or childish person. It is usually an insult, more severe than twit or idiot but less severe than ****** or ******* ."

And

"Today, the term is a general-purpose expletive, used to imply dissatisfaction, or used to describe someone or something whose behaviour is in some way displeasing, though in general Australian and New Zealand English the expletive force has largely disappeared; the word there now has a 'catch-all', almost humorous, 'Jeez' quality."


And I'm Australian... hence I use it that way.

Nod
(This post was last modified: 2010-11-17 08:19 by amet.)
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FishOil Offline
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Post: #15
spoco2 Wrote:Ha! Git and bugger are both English insults... from the motherland (I'm not, but they are)... so I did insult you in English Big Grin

"Git is mild bad language with origins in British English for a silly, incompetent, stupid, annoying, senile elderly or childish person. It is usually an insult, more severe than twit or idiot but less severe than ****** or ******* "

And

"Today, the term is a general-purpose expletive, used to imply dissatisfaction, or used to describe someone or something whose behaviour is in some way displeasing, though in general Australian and New Zealand English the expletive force has largely disappeared; the word there now has a 'catch-all', almost humorous, 'Jeez' quality."


And I'm Australian... hence I use it that way.

Nod

OMG British / Commonwealth humor IS dry.

It was a rhetorical statement. You weren't supposed to actually spend time trying to educate an uninterested person.Tongue
(This post was last modified: 2011-04-26 10:38 by FishOil.)
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