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203 - Syncing with CCC

Chameleon CentralController (CCC) is used to export My Movies metadata directly to CMC's Movie DB, and manage User Accounts and Parental Restrictions, and tracks Watch History and WatchLists on a per-user basis.
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203 - Syncing with CCC

Post by Pauven » Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:19 pm


CMC AutoSyncs to CCC, automatically grabbing movie collection updates or full refreshes as needed, every time you start CMC. It's so quick, most of the time you might not even notice it running. Though when a full refresh occurs, the sync icon will spin for a long time, with the letters JPG inside of it - this indicates artwork is being copied from CCC, and it is best to let this finish before exiting CMC.

Additionally, you can manually run a SmartSync or Full Sync as needed, and CMC will get those updates from CCC.

User account data is included with the movie data with every sync.

Additionally, CMC send locally changed data, like watching a movie or changing user account display preferences, to CCC, which in turn syncs those changes to your other CMC PC's.

For the most part, all this stuff just works automatically, and you don't really need to worry about it.

Skip to the next chapter: 204 - Offline Status Indicators

I See Movies!
At the end of tutorial 201, you were to save your config, then close and restart CMC. At this point, hopefully you were surprised that your My Movies collection is already showing in CMC, yay!

This is because CMC, when in the CCC operational mode, automatically Syncs with CCC every time you launch CMC, so your movie data is always up-to-date!

You'll probably also notice the Sync icon spinning with the letters JPG inside - that's a very good thing - more on that below, but quick note: let it finish before exiting!

If for some reason you do not see any titles, then something went wrong in an earlier step. Please read through the earlier tutorial chapters to determine what went wrong. If you completed a Full Export with CCC, and CCC is running, and CMC is configured and successfully tested to connect with CCC, then you should be seeing your My Movies collection in CMC right now.

How CCC AutoSync Works
When CMC is started, it connects to your CCC service and requests all the updates since the last time it checked in. This is called an AutoSync, which auto-adapts between a SmartSync (changes only) and a Full Sync (full refresh). CMC does this by sending the last update timestamp to CCC.

CCC uses that timestamp and evaluates the next step to take. In most cases, CCC will simply put together a small file containing all the changed records, but if a Full Export had since been run, or a Title deleted from My Movies, then CCC will choose to instead send the entire database to fully refresh CMC's copy.

If CMC receives a full DB copy, it simply replaces its current copy with the new one. If instead CMC receives a changes file, it will overlay and append those records to bring the local copy in sync with CCC's copy.

After updating the database, CMC will also update it's local copy of the artwork cache. If CMC received a changes file, it will simply copy the updated titles' whole artwork subdirectory, which is so quick you often won't notice. If instead CMC receives a full DB file, it will begin a much more thorough artwork syncing process, comparing every artwork file in every subfolder to CCC's remote copy, updating as necessary. This obviously takes longer, and during this time you will often see the Sync icon spinning for several long minutes with the letters "JPG" inside, indicating that artwork is syncing in the background.

You can continue to use CMC while the background artwork sync is still running, though it is best if you let it complete before exiting.

Manually Syncing to CCC
You were probably expecting that dreaded "Sync" option to disappear with CCC, but no... it's still there. Sorry.

It still works similar to before, with SmartSync grabbing any changes since the last sync, and Full Sync grabbing the full Movie DB and syncing all artwork.

The main difference is that, when you are in the CCC operational mode, the Sync buttons ask CCC for updates, instead of scanning your media folders. It's surprisingly quick to use.

Even though the AutoSync with CCC has performed extremely well in beta testing, this is still a fairly new solution, and might have an occasional sync discrepancy. If you feel that the data being shown in not correct according to what is in My Movies, try doing a Full Sync to check if that resolves it (and if it does fix the discrepancy, please let me know so I can fix the bug!).

Syncing User Accounts
Up to this point in the tutorials, we really haven't covered user accounts. Don't worry, it's coming soon in a later chapter. While I don't want to get sidetracked talking about user accounts now, they do deserve a mention when talking about Syncing to CCC.

CCC embeds the user account data into the Movie DB data, so every time you the movie collection is synced (at startup, or manually via SmartSync or Full Sync), the user accounts are synced too.

Syncing Local Changes Back to CCC
The CCC sync process is actually a two-way street, with CMC both receiving and sending updates. What data does CMC send to CCC?
  • Title/Episode playback history
  • Manually toggled Title/Episode Watched/Not Watched status
  • WatchList changes.
  • User display preference changes

This data is sent to CCC, so that CCC can share the new status and preferences will all your other CMC HTPC's. That way if you watch a movie in your living room, it will show up as watched later when you're looking for a movie to watch in bed. Or if you decide you like 4-row mode better than 3-row mode, that will update all CMC PC's.

When do these updates get sent to CCC?
  • At startup during the AutoSync
  • When you manually run a Full Sync or SmartSync
  • When you make any Settings change and click Save
  • When you toggle a Title or Episode as Watched/Not Watched
  • When you add or remove a Title in your WatchList
  • After* you Play a Title or Episode

*NOTE: When you Play a Title or Episode, CMC launches a player to handle playback, and then sits idle waiting for you to return to CMC. CMC then detects when you finish watching and close the player, returning program focus to CMC, and that's when it sends the "Watch Event" update to CCC. This data includes the "duration" of time you spent in the player before returning, which is data you can later review in the CCC Reports panel.

There's two important elements to understand about how this works. It is technically possible to close CMC before returning focus to it, which would cause CMC to lose that Watch Event and it would never have the data to send to CCC.

It is also common to launch a movie and then just let it sit there for an extra hour or two when you get distracted by a phone call or twitter burp about the most recent political scandal. In this case, CMC may report a duration several hours longer than the movie runtime. The key take-away here is that the duration that is being reported is the amount of time between the time CMC launched the player and you returned to CMC, not necessarily your current movie position or how long you spent watching a movie.

Proceed to the next chapter: 204 - Offline Status Indicators
President, Chameleon Consulting LLC
Author, Chameleon MediaCenter

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