How do I get started with iHD?

Many DVD authoring professionals may be wondering how they can get started with HD DVD. Probably the first thing to do is to download the iHD Jumpstart kit and get yourself a good XML editor (like the free Visual Studio Web Developer edition) and a graphics program like Photoshop or the Microsoft Expressions beta. This will allow you to create iHD content and play it back on your PC.

But the tools aren’t much good if you don’t know how to use them. You can look at the very basic samples in the iHD download, or look at some of the samples on my blog, but the best way to go from zero to hero (*cringe*) is to get a good book on HTML programming for the web.

iHD’s concepts are very similar to those used on the web — you have some content elements (like divs, buttons, and paragraphs) and then you make them look pretty by giving them styles (like CSS — Cascading Style Sheets). You then make things happen by writing small blocks of script code, just like a web page. The only thing that doesn’t have a good parallel with web programming is the XPath-based timing engine, but hopefully I will be writing more about that in the not-too-distant future. You don’t really need to know much about XML to write iHD; learning HTML is probably enough to get started, and any decent XML editor will help write the correct XML syntax for you (or, at least, tell you where you went wrong 🙂 ).

So if you know nothing about web development, or if you haven’t really learnt anything new since 1995, I would suggest picking up a book on HTML programming — just make sure it covers CSS and some basic JavaScript! Don’t pick up one of those really thick books that contain a full reference to every DHTML object, property, and method, since that will not do you any good. You want to know about the basics of HTML structure, the basics of CSS and styling, and a little bit about script (which you might be better off getting a different book for — again, just make sure it isn’t full of HTML object references, because that’s a waste of your time).

There are also lots of references on the web for HTML, CSS, and Script… unfortunately I don’t have any personal recommendations right now; let me know if you find something particularly good!

Comments (8)

  1. Will Merydith says:

    For those with very little HTML knowledge/experience I recommend <a href="">Head First HTML with CSS and XML</a>.

    Coming from a web development background, and new to DVD authoring, I agree with Peter.  The challenges I am facing right now are mostly wrapped up in the XPath based timing engine.

  2. Michael says:

    One of the differences between iHD and WWW programming is that Web browsers are forgiving… iHDSim and to a much greater extent HD DVD players are not! It’s the spec’s way or no way — for example, one missing semicolon in your script and the player will not play your content. This is perhaps a good thing, though — there’s not a morass of different behaviors and levels of implementation in different browsers to work around.

  3. Petri says:

    Hi Peter!

    Unfortunately I’m not a programmer. I do have some degree which kinda touched on that area, but I never found the necessary mindset for programming. I’ve created some HD DVDs of my own with Ulead VideoStudio 10+, but it doesn’t use iHD. Perhaps I’m better off waiting for a commercial/shareware/freeware solution for easy iHD creation. You know, iHD for point’n’clickers with an easy to use GUI. I bet MS has something like that in development already 🙂

  4. ptorr says:

    Hopefully the current consumer DVD authoring tools will come out with HD versions sooner or later. Point and click with templates will come sooner or later, but you won’t get anything as cool as if you did it yourself from scratch 🙂

  5. Gerrit L says:

    Maybe check out the tutorials at :

    Always nice to get you started from scratch…

  6. Gerrit L says:

    Hi Peter,

    First of all, thanks for all the effort to guide us dummies (speaking for myself) into the world of iHD.

    Just a question, would it be possible to place some extra comment lines into your (most representative) samples? For instance, what’s the URL in the beginning stands for? Since a player doesn’t have to have an internet connection I don’t understand the use of it…

    Thanks in advance

  7. ptorr says:

    I’ll try to cover that stuff, too. Thanks for the feedback!

  8. Development Resources Introduction to HD DVD Authoring Getting Started with HD DVD (includes link to