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stuckless 04-14-2010 09:56 AM

Users / Add-ons / Problems / SageTV [rant]
Ok... it's not a rant... but, but I wanted to post something here, that is a more a "call to users" than a "call for developers".

I added some functions to SageTV in areas that I've felt it was deficient (ie, remote apis (sagex-apis), bmt (metadata tools), phoenix apis (fanart, etc)).

At this point, I spend about 20+hrs a week on SageTV related projects, and I do it for 2 reasons.
1. I want to make SageTV better for my own personal use
2. Some of what I do can be of value to others (consider it 'charity' for Geeks)

In addition to myself, there are numerous other developers that have added functionality to SageTV, such as the Jetty Web Server (jreichen), SJQ (Slugger), SageMC (MeInMaui), and the list goes on... In fact If I were try and name every current active developer, then I'd probably be here for hours :)

One of the things that comes up from time to time is how complex it is to get something "simple" working, or the lack of "documentation" for a given plugin (or series of interconnected plugins, bmt, sagemc, tvexplorer, etc). Personally I find this hard to believe, since I install my stuff, from scratch, about 5-10 times a week. I've provided a wiki page on sagex and bmt which I thought was quite well done, and really showed how simple the whole thing is. But, maybe, myself (and perhaps developers in general), aren't the best person/people to write documentation for their plugins, since we tend to gloss over steps that we find trivial (and to be honest, most of this stuff is trivial to us, because spend our lives in things like this... it'll be like asking your to write a help document on the windows start menu)

So, here's my challenge to the users... You spend your time fighting with a series of add-ons... you ask good questions... you get answers (hopefully), and finally at some point, it all works (hopefully)... you are happy... end of story. But why not just take a little extra time, and help the developer by writing a guide for a particular add-on.

You don't even have to tackle the whole add-on, just taking a part of it, would be helpful. For example if I look at BMT... here's a quick list of what some guides could look like...

Installing BMT
Upgrading BMT
UPgrading Phoenix for BMT
Configuring the Automatic Plugin
Troubleshooting why the Automatic isn't working
Naming your files for better matches
Forcing Matches using the MediaTitles
How to Exclude directories
Understanding Regular Expressions and how they are used in BMT
Installing the WebUI
Troubleshooting the WebUI
Configuring BMT for use with DVDProfiler

and the list goes on.... No one person needs to tackle all topics (and the list is by no means exhaustive), but maybe if a couple of people took ownership of some of the topics, then over time, we'd have a collection of documents/guides that could be beneficial to others.

Many people have asked how they can help... well, here's a chance.... and Some people already have... in BMT 3.x I received document submissions from a couple of people, and I was thankful for it. I know Brent has done some really great guides on SageMC and certain features of SageMC (and no expects you to be as good as those ;) )

So, that's my rant (not really a rant), but rather a call for help, from end users, to help make the add-ons that you love, that much better.

Good luck.

PLUCKYHD 04-14-2010 10:02 AM

Here Here!!! :goodjob: :jump: :clap:

ps I appreciate the charity for geeks very much

pss- I have to say I have never written documentation very much but Brent and Dbone have always been willing if I ask them.

jaminben 04-14-2010 10:05 AM

Yea, I think thats a really nice idea..... perhaps if dev's were to start a wiki page upon release of their work and then leave it for user's to update over time.



SWKerr 04-14-2010 10:40 AM

That is a great idea and I think you could get people to help with this if there was a good place to post and maintain such a repository. This is where I think Sage needs to step in a provide a WIKI framework for the documentation. A Plug-ins Wiki would be great for users. This would be a good place to highlight the most used plug-ins and maintain documentation.

I have on occasion created some step by step guides but on the forum it will eventually get buried in all the support posts.

I think this is something that needs to be supported by SageTV the company in order to survive long term. I think a Sage Plug-ins Wikipedia managed by the Sage community and Developers would work. Forums and Wikis serve two different purposes and Sage needs both. The Forum format does not work well for documentation and general communications.

Some developers have done a great job and created there own but they really need to be centralized and advertised by Sage to work well for basic users. I think it is also fair that the users share in the work the developers put into their plug-ins by helping with the documentation.

vividweb 04-14-2010 10:47 AM


Originally Posted by SWKerr (Post 417797)
I think a Sage Plug-ins Wikipedia managed by the Sage community and Developers would work.

Very good idea. A common location for wikis would be helpful.

wrems 04-14-2010 11:15 AM

I think that's a great idea too!

Even though I'm not a developer, I can understand how it could be frustrating repeating yourself for the mundane details. I agree, some sort of wiki framework would be ideal.

To all the developers: THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU DO!! Sage wouldn't be the same without all of your efforts. I just hope that I can contribute in some meaningful way.

stuckless 04-14-2010 11:22 AM

I think that something that could potentially work as well as a WIKI (most projects have a wiki of some sort) is to just use the forum. ie, if you write a Guide on how to configure BMT to do something specific, then start a new thread and document it there. Then you can PM the developer (me in this case), and I can create a section in the first post for Guides and HowTos and I can link from there to your Thread. Or, you can use google docs, and PM me the link... or you can add a Wiki page to the BMT project (as an example) but I'd have to give you documentation access to the project for that to happen.

If you use the forum, then others can comment on the guide, and you own the first post, so you can continue to update and maintain it.

Brent 04-14-2010 11:40 AM

I've intended to help more in the documentation area, but life (work & home stuff) keeps pulling me away lately - you may have noticed a much less frequent posting schedule at GeekTonic lately due to the same reason. I have begun a good document on BMT for dummies (I'm in the dummy category btw) as well as several others I've delved into. But yes, any help others can contribute in the way of documentation would be great.

I think a wiki is always a great idea, but if anyone has something they'd like to throw at me, I can also put it on GeekTonic for the masses. I'm in the process of updating the "Ultimate guide to SageTV" landing page on GeekTonic for release sometime around the release of the fabled SageTV 7 whenever that might be....

PS - I really, really, really appreciate the hard work, countless hours, thick skin (dealing with sometimes cranky HTPC enthusiasts) and expertise of the many awesome developers for SageTV. It wouldn't be nearly as much fun without you!

Skirge01 04-14-2010 12:18 PM

I think this is a great post. When I was having issues getting jreichen's Jetty Webserver up and running, I took to documenting the steps and posting them and they wound up on the Wiki once it was cleaned up. It wasn't all that difficult and it was nice to be able to give back to him and the community.

Quite a few people seem to ask "how can I thank you?" and this sounds like a great method for just that!

OneOfMany 04-14-2010 03:22 PM

I agree 120% with this. I am considered a "geek" and computers are my business. Although I don't post a lot, I have spent numerous hours searching the forums, reading linked wikis, finding scattered instructions in multi-page postings all in the need to figure out what I'm doing, how I am to do it, and how I am to troubleshoot it.

The Sage plug-in page is a disaster in my opinion, and does little to help users to understand and deploy the plug-ins. As a result, you great developers spend way too much time answering questions and accepting log files in order to solve problems when you could be developing (or enjoying a well-deserved beer :))

I actually started writing down the steps I used to install and deploy everything, however I ended up going backwards and forwards so many times, it became useless.

I certainly am willing to contribute, however simply starting another thread is not going to cut it.

Setup a proper sub-page on the main Sage page, and let's do it!


mayamaniac 04-14-2010 09:55 PM


Originally Posted by stuckless (Post 417789)
In addition to myself, there are numerous other developers that have added functionality to SageTV, such as the Jetty Web Server (jreichen), SJQ (Slugger), SageMC (MeInMaui), and the list goes on... In fact If I were try and name every current active developer, then I'd probably be here for hours :)

Even in your short list, you can't leave out (Web server) neilm! ;)

By the way, I installed BMT a while back and don't even remember doing it. And it continued to do its thing, scanning and updating all the videos with meta data. It's a powerful tool and it just works flawlessly. We don't say thanks enough for the great plugins and addons from the developers of this community.

This is a great idea. I would go beyond documentations and suggest Opus4 to open a tutorial section sub-forum. Following tutorials is much easier than reading the manual. And even better than that is video screen capture of the tutorials.

stuckless 04-15-2010 05:33 AM


Originally Posted by mayamaniac (Post 417863)
Even in your short list, you can't leave out (Web server) neilm! ;)

You are absolutely right. Sorry Neilm :( The web server plugin is the one of the few plugins that I use... but I do run it under Jetty, which I why it slipped my mind, for the short list ;)

pjpjpjpj 04-15-2010 07:12 AM

Great idea, and I'd again like to take this chance to say THANKS!!!! to all the great developers who make Sage a better product for all of us! :goodjob:

I'd certainly be willing to add comments and tips to any wiki-type pages, if I had info that was useful. I probably wouldn't have much (I don't use some of the more-popular plug-ins and I don't use a lot of the more-common Sage hardware setups)... but I'm a pretty good writer. :D

JetreL 04-15-2010 09:32 AM

I am always willing to help where I can with documenting some of the Plug-ins. That's one of the biggest complaints that I originally had with SageTV, steep learning curve and limited documentation of the plugins. I have never enjoyed programing. (More of a systems person myself) Maybe this is a way that I can give back to the community. If anyone needs any help with that PM me and I will see what I can come up with.

Have we PM'd anyone from Sage about starting an official Wiki?

sic0048 04-15-2010 10:26 AM

This was my exact reasoning for creating the "How To" install the HD-PVR I did. Not because I am some expert or know it all, but because I struggled getting it to work and wanted to share a method that seemed to work very well.

I'm actually pretty "dumb" when it comes to technology. I'm not a programmer, a network admin, IT guy, etc at all and have no training in any of these areas. So I need a really dumbed down set of instructions many times to get things working.

I'd love to see more write ups because it would help me personally. For example, I wasn't willing to try Comskip until Brent wrote his excellent "How To" in his blog. Now it is one of my favorite features.

KarylFStein 04-17-2010 07:36 AM

Would there be interest in starting a community-driven site based on something like FusionForge? Not to replace the SageTV forums or places that other people already use like Google, Assembla, and SourceForge, but a place that lists all the available plug-ins, has project pages for developers that *they* (and/or people they trust) manage, (Wiki, announcement lists, forums, files, etc. or links to whatever system they currently use), and a place for general Wikis? I'm not a fan of adding "yet another site" especially given the wealth of data already on these forums--it's just an idea I had on how to spread admin work around and address the "on-127-page-thread-to-rule-them-all" issue...

dkopp 04-20-2010 08:04 AM

I previously submitted this on some post. I will look for a host platform and report back.

"I appreciate all the efforts of everyone. I am not a programmer but a pretty goog geek.

I have been thinking about creating a roadmap to the ideal media center. It would include BMT, TVExplorer, etc. So far these are my favorite plugins.

So.....I offer my help in merging the best of the best "

ChaOConnor 04-21-2010 06:52 AM

I am all about this, and will help organize it. Doing some searching, I found an already existing, but not used Wikia setup at: I'm trying to contact the owner and see if we can use it. I'd be more than happy to incorporate their content, but make it a broader site.

Steps I see needing to be done:
1. Find a suitable hosting site, easily accessible by everyone, easy to use and edit.
2. Collect content already out there. Many developers have already started their own install instructions, etc. Start with those and then comb through threads to pull out an extra tips, etc.
2a. We'd need a divide and conquer type approach. Each person willing to help would need to sign up for a particular piece and work it till it's 90% completion. Then we'd move on to another topic.

Many more steps, but this is where it starts.

Any suggestions on point #1?

dkopp 04-21-2010 07:07 AM

I host my own server, not an expert at all. I have been fooling around with Joomla. I think it could be an answer. I am willing to host a site. Look into, and see if the group feels it could work.

In the meantime I will install a joomla site and post a link.

jreichen 04-22-2010 03:37 PM

This is a great idea.

For those who are interested in contributing, I think any of us developers would be more than happy to provide you with any information you might need for your contributions - that shouldn't keep anyone from getting involved.

There are plenty of opportunities, too: creating installation and configuration steps (thanks Skirge01!), enhancing and organizing existing content, documenting common errors and resolutions, and setting up and running the web site to name a few. I also think we need more articles about *what* the plugins are used for and "case studies" of how users are setting up their systems - anything to help the newbies get up and running.

I also think it's worthwhile to look into Joomla and Drupal for publishing and organizing the content.

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