Niall Ginsbourg from Mobilewares is working on another Windows Media Center application for Windows Vista using Media Center Markup Language (MCML) - Big Screen TV Series.
The Big Screen TV Series application monitors your recorded TV shows and scheduled recordings for the future and downloads comprehensive series information (episode summaries, images, cast information, etc). Then it presents this information in a nice UI that you can use to browse, view and manage your TV shows within Windows Media Center. In addition, the management and configuration tools for the application are also written in MCML and are available within Windows Media Center (instead of via a separate tool that would have to be run from the standard Windows desktop).
Big Screen TV Series is currently still under development, but you can find more information in these 2 blog posts on the Big Screen Blog:
- Big Screen TV Series blog post part 1 - http://mobilewares.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!78533A1A2E078194!177.entry
- Big Screen TV Series blog post part 2 - http://mobilewares.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!78533A1A2E078194!183.entry
Both posts include some screenshots of the application in action. In particular, I'm impressed with the mirror effects for the show "cover art" and the gallery view that Niall has created to browse series information.
Also, this application illustrates two powerful concepts that I wanted to emphasize here:
- Developers can use the Windows Media Center SDK to create new Windows Media Center experiences that expand on and exceed functionality provided by the built-in Windows Media Center experiences. In this case, instead of being stuck with the TV gallery that is provided by default in Windows Media Center, Niall decided to create more in-depth views into TV episode and series information to make a more enjoyable TV browsing experience.
- Like with any programming language, designing good building blocks (controls, base classes, etc) is a key to enabling future productivity. In MCML, it is possible to define a rich set of common controls and then use them in multiple applications. Spending the time up-front to create these controls makes creating each subsequent application much faster and easier. I think Niall is demonstrating this nicely with the rate at which he is cranking out MCML-based Windows Media Center applications for Windows Vista.