[vlc-devel] Rethinking the HTTP Interface UI

Jean-Baptiste Kempf jb at videolan.org
Mon May 23 15:23:06 CEST 2011

On Sat, May 21, 2011 at 03:42:43PM -0400, Andre-John Mas wrote :
> Essentially what I am wanting to do is provide a look which is more inline with the new
> look of the VideoLAN web site and at the same time provide a look to the player controls
> that match either the controller currently in VLC or something like that used by
> Quicktime X. I plan to reintroduce the icons, but using text for now since I didn't
> want to be putting too much effort if the idea of updating the UI isn't supported.

This is welcome, however, let me give my thoughts about that...

VLC is quite a good player. Sure, it could be better in many ways
(especially audio), but it is cool enough to have become a reference.
It works on most desktop architectures and is somewhat working on
mobiles (still a lot to do in this sense ;) ).
libVLC is still lacking features, but, thanks to Rémi, it is now usable
(since the 1.1.x days), and is still getting more features, so it is
actually usable as a playback + simple modif engine.

However, I don't think it will become a good server in the current shape,
because in fact, streaming servers are usually one-use-case and are very
difficult to do correctly (and don't scale easily)... I believe DVBlast
or Feng are more interesting in this matter...
And I would like to point to the current trend on HLS and other adaptive
streaming technologies, where streamers are actually http servers of CDNs.

But, there is a current trend with netbooks, tablets, connected TVs or
whatnot video gadget, that play video, but don't have storage (or almost
no storage). There, what is needed is "personnal servers" or the
bullshit "personnal cloud server" I used to trap bad students in SoC (:D).
To me, this means DLNA/Upnp, Airplay, or plain http/html streaming to
your gadget, on your LAN or THE INTERNETZ... (also, the latest needs
libjingle integration or the like, and few people can do it right...)

Back to the main topic, I believe the current HTTP UI is wrong because
it tries to mimic the wx (or Qt) GUI paradigms.
There are little to no reasons to do this, except 'because we can'.

First the current HTTP/XML requests are useful per sé, because it is a
cool (the best?) way to discuss with a running VLC. (The other way is
through MPris, but this isn't as Xplatform as we would like)

I believe there are 2 other major use-cases for the HTTP interface:
 - simple remote controlling of a running VLC through a device (and not
     25 differents apps);
 - remote viewing, on a gadget, across a network (see flash.html);
and those 2 use-cases need to be adressed, and they are badly done now,
and too much focus is done on "opening" and "playlist".

I believe too that the web UI should be themable (CSS2, please...) and a
bit more reactive.
I also doubt that VLM and Mosaic wizard are useful, but I may mistake.

Finally, we have one student working on GSoC on this very topic.

Best Regards,

Jean-Baptiste Kempf
http://www.jbkempf.com/ - +33 672 704 734
Sent from my Electronic Device

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