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Android development

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Development:
Home icon grey.png   ▶ Development ▶ Android development

Team-XBMC ported XBMC Media Center software to Android in 2012. XBMC is a huge open source project and it takes loads of people working together to maintain it for all platforms, that is why Team-XBMC is always on the lookout for C/C++ programmers to volunteer in assisting us with the development of XBMC. Whether you have contributed to the XBMC project in the past or not, please consider doing so now.


Those of you who are completely unfamiliar with XBMC can get a good overview of it on XBMC and XBMC FAQ.

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Contents

1 Compiling XBMC

2 Skill requirements and where to start

Proficiency in C/C++ programming language and, though not required, knowledge of OpenGL and/or multimedia programming is a plus, as well as prior cross-platform or porting development experience. Familiarity with the Android SDK and NDK is also a bonus.

A good understanding of JNI is highly recommended, since many operations in the Android environment require specific actions from the developers, that are not necessarily common in typical native code. These include:

  • Not being able to directly access the content of VM objects through direct native pointers. E.g. you cannot safely get a pointer to a String object's 16-bit char array to iterate over it in a loop.
  • Requiring explicit reference management when the native code wants to keep handles to VM objects between JNI calls.

2.1 Supported Development Platforms

  • Ubuntu 11 or later

The source code can be obtained by cloning the xbmc git repository hosted on Github.

To retrive the source code:

  • cd $HOME
  • git clone git://github.com/xbmc/xbmc.git xbmc-android
  • cd xbmc-android
  • git submodule update --init addons/skin.touchedgit://github.com/xbmc/xbmc.git xbmc-android

After obtaining the code repository, follow the compilation/development guide in the new repository to setup the required packages and so on. Team-XBMC developers opinion is that the best thing to start with is just to take a look through the source code and try to understand how it all fits together. Test things out, find what works and what does not, then try and track down why.

2.2 Software requirements

  • Compiling XBMC for Android requires at least Android NDK Revision r8e. Android NDK Revision 7 and earlier do not work properly for our cause.

2.3 Hardware requirements

  • x86-based computer. No other special hardware is required for development. For Android devices, either a virtual or hardware device can be used for development.
  • If using Mac OS X, this library from Intel is likely to be very helpful for hardware acceleration of a virtual Android environment.

3 Development Progress

3.1 Porting Libraries

The following is a list of libraries which XBMC relies upon.

4 General guidelines

4.1 User-friendliness is next to godlyness

One major ongoing goal of Team-XBMC has always been to make XBMC and its user interface feel even more intuitive and user-friendly for its end-users, based on the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle of simplicity. It is our belief that usability is the most important aspect of a media center like XBMC. Many other media center projects make user interface decisions by developers, who often have little experience in user interface design. In contrast, Team-XBMC does its best to listen to XBMC's end-users to learn how XBMC is actually being used and how we can improve the user experience. We also aim to do regular overhauls, improving existing features/functions, and scrapping outdated code and features/functions (as "too much stuff" adds unnecessary complexity and can thus also be a bad thing). Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

4.2 XBMC as a whole must...

  • First and foremost be aimed at a large-screen (28" or more) 10-foot user interface for the living-room experience.
    • Large menus, text/fonts and buttons that is designed to be navigated by a hand-held remote-control.
  • Be focused around the main features of playing music, watching movies, recorded television broadcasts, and viewing pictures.
    • XBMC may be capable of converging other things but those things should never take over the main focus in the interface.
  • Be easy to install, set up and maintain (so that our valuable end-users do not get fed up with it and quit).
  • Have an user interface that is simple and intuitive enough so that less tech-savvy people are not intimidated by it.
  • Be able to play audio and video files that have been encoded using DivX, XviD, etc. directly out-of-the-box.
  • Be able to organize audio and video files in an easy and user-friendly way.
  • Use standards and be consistent, (the Music section can for example not use completely different controls from the Video section).
  • Perform actions in the GUI with as few 'clicks' as possible.
  • Be aimed at an international audience, internationalization and localization by supporting different languages, timezones and other regional differences
  • Require little to no non-GUI configuration (and all such non-GUI configuration should be done in just one file: advancedsettings.xml).
  • Be beautiful to look at, after all we hope you will be using it a lot!

4.3 Team-XBMC members should always strive to

  • Promote open source - XBMC is based on the ideas of FOSS (free open source software), licensed under the GPL and builds partly on other open source projects which we do our best to support. The GPL should be respected at all times. All code should be committed to the XBMC project’s git repo before any public binaries are released.
  • Promote the sharing of knowledge and collaboration - Through the use of information sharing tools and practices XBMC is a collaborative environment.
  • Understand that development is a team effort - Treating our users as co-developers has proven to be the most effective option for rapid development. Always strive to work as a team at all times. Actively promote discussion on new features and bug fixes, and respect others comments and criticisms with replies in a timely fashion.
  • Apply the Law of Diminishing Return - The majority of the effort should be invested in implementing features which have the most benefit and widest general usage by the community.
  • Try to make all code, feature, and functions to be platform agnostic - XBMC is a multi-platform software, thus any single platform specific features should be discussed with other team members before implemented. Major features should be developed in a separate branch or committed in small increments so that other members have the opportunity to review the code and comment on it during development.
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