30 Days with XBMC + (insert name of mobile/remote streaming engine)
Several days ago, I started this thread (now closed, http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=197197) on a co different topic (namely if running XBMC on headless mode was even needed if we had a scrapper that could pull the thumbnails and talk to the MYSQL database independently from XBMC). As it is often the case, the main point of the thread gave way to something unexpected: The clarification of XBMC direction in devepment (i.e continuous enphasis on the 10ft interface, or living room, the design of XBMC as an all-in-one software package), with added functionality provided by add-ons and work around.

This got me thinking, given the current reality, where users may wish to consume their media away from the 10ft interface, on a myriad of devices (i.e tablets, smartphones, laptop, hybrid, and the 10ft interface)

How would XBMC fare if paired with one of the current mobile/streaming platforms (i.e. plex, MB3, etc.)?

Would its use be enhanced and complimented by these +platforms?

Would this combination change my viewing experience?

Would I gravitate more towards XBMC, or the +platform?

I am hoping to document my experience for the next 30 days on this thread. If you already have setup something along these lines; or simply thinking about doing so, feel free to sound off below...
Before you quote the wiki again about being ported to iOS and Android, the reason those OS ports were done is because iOS and Android have set-top-boxes. Maybe things will be different in the future, who knows, but no one will do anything because jacintech.fire asked for it or started a thread for it.

You constantly start these threads for the sake of starting arguments. Go troll somewhere else. You are on thin ice as it is, don't make it worse.
Day One: Although is way to early to tell, it seems that having our media so easily available has increase the amount of media we consume. Also, we seem to be exploring and experimenting with our media library a bit more. That is, digging deeper for titles we have not seen before or did not know we had.

Before, with only the 10ft interface as an option, watching a favourite episode of a long broadcast tv show was an sporadic occurence (on a rare day off, when too lazy to go outside). 

Now, anytime we find ourselves with a few minutes to kill, or simply bored at a party, we simply whip out a smartphone or tablet and within seconds we are giggling to ourselves (waiting 30 minutes for a ride at the amusement park with a cranky baby? No problem, whip out a tablet and watch Frozen).

One unforseen side effect of this is that by the end of the day (when one of us comes home) we have all caught up with our media watching; and unless it is a family movie night, or other special ocasion (GoT season finale, for example), the 10ft interface goes unused. Again, it is too early to say for certain, as this could all be a simple case of "oohhh, I've got a new toy..."
Day One of this thread. Still lame. Don't see it getting any better, either via smartphone/tablet or the 10ft interface you can't come to terms with.
Day 2: Today was a bit more humbling. On the one hand, the benefits of having access to your media library while on the go where abuntantly clear.
From sharing the highlights of the GoT season finale during the lunch hours; to one of the kids sharing one episode of SpongeBob with her class (and thus avoiding a near riot when the teacher had to step out of the classroom); to settling a trivia question from an old episode of Seinfeld. Being able to just "whip" out a mobile device and press play, definately showed its promise.

On the other hand, as with ANY system, these too showed their limitation: I wanted to setup a Load Balacing Proxy, to leverage ALL my servers to ensure availability and failover. That part did not go as planned. Although setting up the load balancing proxy (HaProxy) could not have been easier, getting the streaming servers to behave as one (to the user facing UI) has proven a bit difficult.

My aim is to make all the streaming servers appear as one to a user; such that the same credentials works across the same array. I will try again today.

TO DO: Unify the resume/play sync across both system, so that I can start watching something on the mobile and continue on XBMC (and viceversa). Turns out it may not be as difficult as one may think.

The humbling part: THANK GOD FOR XBMC. As having two parallel systems allowed me to work on one while the other keept huming along. While the family will tolerate outtage on the mobile side of things (is a new system, I say). Inside the house that will simply not fly. So XBMC saved the day.
Day 2:

I enjoyed actually talking to people around me instead of staring into a smartphone and or tablet. I can faithfully report that I did not get hit by any cars while walking down the street because I was not watching Seinfeld at the time.

Took my toddler son to a family members soccer game instead of just handing him a tablet to watch SpongeBob.

Today was a good day.
(2014-06-17, 14:23)helta Wrote: Day 2:

I enjoyed actually talking to people around me instead of staring into a smartphone and or tablet. I can faithfully report that I did not get hit by any cars while walking down the street because I was not watching Seinfeld at the time.

Took my toddler son to a family members soccer game instead of just handing him a tablet to watch SpongeBob.

Today was a good day.

These reports are great, please keep them coming!
Once again, the power beauty and sheer muscle of XMBC was evident. After a hard way of work and no play, it was nice to have all the guys and gals over for some beer, BBQ and a re-run (I paid for the PPV) of UFC 174 (it was far too hot in the mid Atlantic, near the Equator for any outdoor activity).
To truly enjoy a big ticket event like the UFC, you really need a home theater with massive screen, Honest-to-god surround sound and a popcorn machine...you need XBMC. None of that mobile jazz will do.

On the other hand, the local school officials (what in North America would be called a school district) asked me if I could help them digitize their public domain media library and make it available to all the schools in the area.

Given the financial limitations (third world, no money), the remote/mobile streaming engine is the best option. I could setup a server and storage at the main office in town, and use a cheap client at each of the school.

Ironic, but for a third world city, their telecomm infrastructure is not too bad (Hawei donated the equipment).

Housekeeping: The load balancing/failover servers are on hold for now. Started dissceting MB3 (setting up mono...an adventure) and XBMC code to see what features I can port to my Franken-Video manager...media synching is coming along...
general help and support ?

Moved to Off-topic.
Quote:How would XBMC fare if paired with one of the current mobile/streaming platforms (i.e. plex, MB3, etc.)?
So what exactly are you running? MB3 or Plex? (sorry if I missed your description of the system).
If I have helped you or increased your knowledge, click the 'thumbs up' button to give thanks :) (People with less than 20 posts won't see the "thumbs up" button.)
Day 4: Housekeeping

I did not get a chance to do much of anything as work took precedence. When I finally got home, I decided to have a peek inside both the XBMC and MB3 code base. One word: WOW!

As end users, we some time take for granted how much effort goes into creating a piece of software (open source or otherwise), looking at the actual code sometimes offers a glimpse into that effort...it also shows (in the case of open source software) the earlier efforts that became the basis for these projects. It truly is a matter of standing in the shoulders of giants.

Close out the day by setting up a new developing environment and compiling both XBMC (vanilla & headless) and MB3. When I get around to in the next few days maybe grab the latest sources and start from scratch.

On days like today, when presssed for time, my mobile solution (NOT plex, or MB3; but a custom HTML5 video manager. But any of these two will do, if that is what you are looking for) is the only choice.
Day 5: Mutiny!!!
I had a bit of a mutiny on my hands yesterday. There was an unrelated issue with the wifi in the house that resulted in a lot of buffering while using the mobile streaming engine...

It did not take long for the wife to proclaim: "...This is a piece of $#!t. I am switching back to XBMC...". This is not unspected, as she has been an ardent fan of XBMC for years (and has refused to even change the default skin, confluence).

As for me, I still used both XBMC and the HTML5 video manager (I should call it a cute name, but I got nothing). I even tried extending the use case to the 10ft interface and to be honest, other than an almost imperceptible loss of sound quality, I could not tell the diference. That said, when I switched back to XBMC, I could tell.

Dived deeper into the XBMC/MB3 code base; but kept on thinking what a folly it is to try and reshape either of these projects (XBMC in particular) into a compact, lean, mean streamin' machine. From a software engineer point of view, the code (if not the functionality) is quite beautiful; but the truth is, it is also an unyielding beast. I am starting to think it would be a lot easier to start a complete rewrite of the code base, beginning with a transcoding/streaming engine; a strong (scaleable, modular) httpd daemon that dan handle hundreds of concurrent requests, and accompanying html5 app, then build from there. Each component as a drop-in module (like the Linux Kernel) so that the resulting code can be compiled to suite whatever need arises.
Day 8: Nuances...
A week after starting this experiment I have noticed that while one or the other solution (XBMC, centralized/LAN viewing vs Remote/Mobile viewing/streaming) has some very strong pros (i.e. XBMC superior playback vs Ability to consume media anywhere without ANY additional configurations or tools), I have also found some pesky little cons (i.e. XBMC myriad of addons, hacks and workarounds to add or extend functionality vs the Remote Streaming Engine lack of run-time configuration tools for even the simplest of things like audio and/or subtitles synch).

A while back, on another thread, a user pointed out that a so called perfect solution was untainable; that the best case was to run parallel applications that complimented each other, applications whose combined feature set was that untainable panacea: The perfect setup.

While this may well be true, a design approach that begins with a server/client foundation comes a lot closer to that "perfect setup" than an all-in-one. This is more glaring when one considers the fact that most of the features that make XBMC a stand-out amongst media player are features that could be easily offloaded to a server (in truth, some of these featues had their genesis as server software).

On week in, I can say that so far both approaches have their merits; but all things considered, having the ability to consume my media anywhere is one gigantic argument to compromise on a solution that offers less features and control than XBMC...but then again is far too early to tell.
Day 9: Outside.

Putting the gadgets down...heading out to sea...
Day 29: Conclusions
#1: Consuming media within the context of a high speed (1Gbps+) LAN, dedicated HTPC, is best achieved with XBMC, on its own, as they it is currently designed.

#2: ALL other cases (remote viewing/streaming, mobile devices, smartTVs, etc.) are best suited for OTHER solutions (i. e. Plex, MB3, etc.) on their own, as they are currently designed.

#3: To vaying degrees, these OTHER solutions have an acceptable 10ft interface i. e. They can play in XBMC's sandbox. While the reverse is not true.

#4: Most of the users in this case, when presented with a choice of using XBMC and being limited to the LAN, or using other solutions and being able to consume media anywhere, choose the OTHER solutions everytime, even when and if not ALLL media (i. e. ISO images, VIDEO_TS folders, etc.) where available. They were more concerned with being able to consume their media anywhere, rather than how many media type a particular solution was able to playback.

#5: In the end, XBMC was used ONLY on these limited ocasions where the other solutions where not available, and the users where within the LAN, or to enjoy a particular title in TrueHD and DTS sound. At that rate, XMBC accounted for less than 2% of the total viewing time.

Looking Ahead: As the price of SmartTVs continues to fall, and their feature set continues to improve, the need for a dedicated HTPC, or settop box will become redundant. Given that some of these solutions (Plex, for example) require as little as a browser to work will make the argument for a dedicated HTPC/SetTop box seem even weaker. Given that most media consumption is, and will continue to be, made via devices other than dedicated HTPC/SmartTVs (i. e mobile devices), insisting on a design phillosophy that effectively shuts it out of 98% of viewing time is suicidal at best.

Last Thoughts: We will continue using XBMC, but in a much, much more reduced capability and ONLY within the context of the LAN. When the time comes to upgrade our HD displays for SmartTVs, should a dedicated app exist for one of the other solutions (or even a decent version of a webkit-based browser), XBMC will be further relegated to our Home/Private Theater Setup (unless by that time the other solutions have made inroads in that area as well).
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