I would like to get some help from the community to name a new app coming out very soon - and I figure the best way to get some help is to give something in return. Whomever supplies the best name suggestion will receive a free license for CMC.
Up to this point, I've handled all the product names myself, and as you can see product naming isn't a strong skill set for me. Here's hoping one of you can do a bit better.
I'm hoping to ship this new product with CMC v4.0. For those of you who have yet to figure out my versioning strategy, v4.0 indicates the first release of CMC's 4th product year. And I plan to release v4.0 on CMC's 3rd anniversary, October 31, marking the beginning of CMC's 4th year.
That means you only have a few weeks to submit your name suggestions. Just reply to this post with your ideas - provide as many as you can think up!!!
For the rest of this post, I will call this new program "<NEW APP>". See, <NEW APP> really needs a name!
To aid you in your quest, here's the executive summary of <NEW APP>:
<NEW APP> will use the My Movies API to create and directly maintain the CMC Movie Database, plus manage CMC User Accounts, Parental Controls, and provide advanced Watched History reporting. <NEW APP> will function as a server, and each CMC PC will connect to <NEW APP> to stay in sync with the latest data and settings. <NEW APP> may gain additional functionality in the future, like defining search filters, controlling individual user preferences, and enhancing movie data from external sources (i.e. Rotten Tomatoes ratings).
While the executive summary above is fairly complete, below I will go into more detail on these features in case you have any questions.
CMC Movie Database Creator / Server
The primary feature of <NEW APP> is that it will export metadata from My Movies via the My Movies API (just like CMC Metadata Exporter does today), but instead of writing metadata files like mmTitle.xml in your media folders, it will directly create the main CMC Movie Database (CMC_MovieDB.bin).
This approach has some notable advantages:
- Your media folders/drives can be offline and don't have to be spun up for writing or for syncing
- The CMC Sync process is no longer needed, since <NEW APP> will keep the CMC Movie Database up-to-date
- Your collection in CMC will be more accurate, as <NEW APP> eliminates some Sync issues that cause display errors
- Movies that are configured as Offline Discs or in Disc Changers can now be exported for display in CMC
- Movies that discless and are file based (i.e. MKV, MP4) can now be exported for display in CMC
- Plus some other cool new functionality that will make CMC more like My Movies on WMC (i.e. Cast/Crew info)
To say all this another way, you can think of <NEW APP> as a My Movies API Accelerator. For example, to export my entire collection from My Movies takes about 90 minutes via the API - it's really slow. <NEW APP> can do this during the night when I'm sleeping, and CMC will be able to download from <NEW APP> the full CMC Movie Database in just a few seconds, easily over 100x faster. This will provide the benefit of CMC directly accessing the My Movies API, but without the performance penalty from waiting on the slow My Movies API.
Movie Data Enhancer
While My Movies is pretty great, it does have some notable shortcomings. For example, Binnerup has never implemented Rotten Tomatoes ratings. I've long thought it would be pretty great to have some extra data appended to my movies. My thinking here is that <NEW APP> will be able to grab additional data from web sources, so that you can have more features in CMC that My Movies never dreamed of providing.
I should caution readers that, at this point, this is just a wish and not a guarantee. For example, it might turn out that Rotten Tomatoes charges for their ratings, and the cost might be too high for CMC. But for the purposes of naming <NEW APP>, you should consider that one day it will further enhance your My Movies data with data from other web sources.
User Accounts & Parental Controls
Several users have expressed a need to have multiple user accounts for their family, with each user having their own Parental Rating Restrictions, plus optional PIN codes to prevent young children from accessing their parent's accounts. Originally I had planned to add this directly to CMC, but I quickly realized that this would be painful to manage each PC separately, and that a teen could easily bypass these restrictions if they were being set locally.
The solution became obvious once I decided to program the CMC Movie Database / Server app I described above. In addition to creating the CMC Movie Database, this <NEW APP> could also be used to create and manage user accounts, including applying Parental Controls. This data would flow from the <NEW APP> to each CMC PC, so it will be easy to maintain all CMC PC's in your house from a single point of control. This approach will also make it unlikely that one of your children will figure out how to bypass the restrictions you put in place.
As part of managing User Accounts, I think a future version could be enhanced to allow each user to have their own CMC configuration settings and GUI customizations. Your kids can have their own wallpapers, default sorts, cover rows, etc., all unique from what you prefer. Perhaps your wife wants 2 cover rows while you prefer 4 and your kids want 3. Additionally, making a user specific change at a CMC PC can sync back up to the <NEW APP> server, so all PC's have the same user account specific configuration changes.
Logging Watched Events per User
While My Movies Collection Management allows you to add "Watched Events", indicating who has watched a film or show, and when they watched it, this capability is not available through the My Movies API. The API is essentially broken in this regard, as when you flag a movie as watched, it always sets the person as the Primary User, and the date & time as the current time when the API is being updated, and not necessarily when the movie was watched (there is usually a delay between watching and syncing the watched event back to My Movies).
To solve this, <NEW APP> will be able to log which user watched a movie or episode, and exactly when they watched it. There will also be reporting capability so you can review this data. While I understand that most CMC users will have no need for this level of detail - for the few users that need it this is very helpful information.
One additional feature that is planned is tracking the current position when watching TV Episodes or Movies with MPC (which is the only playback software that exposes this data). That way if you are halfway through a movie or episode, you can resume later where you left off without hunting for the right spot. Even better, CMC can sync this data back to <NEW APP>, so you can stop a movie in the living room and resume it in your bedroom exactly where you left off.
Closing Thoughts on <NEW APP>
As ambitious and comprehensive as <NEW APP> will be, I think it is important for me to clarify that <NEW APP> will be OPTIONAL. You will not have to use <NEW APP>, or even all of the <NEW APP> features like User Accounts and Parental Controls.
If you want to keep using CME to export metadata files, you can - in fact you can use both <NEW APP> and CME together, to have it both ways if you need. Those metadata files sure do provide a nice backup in case My Movies stops working, and they are also great for taking your collection on the road.
And you can keep using the CMC Sync to scan media folders if you prefer. I consider CMC's ability to scan your media folders and find content for playback to be one of the crown jewels, and I have no plans to abandon this capability. For some users and scenarios, scanning media folders will meet their needs better than <NEW APP>.
For these reasons, <NEW APP> represents new functionality with no loss of current capabilities.
Here's My Own Naming Suggestions
To kick off the naming suggestions, I figured I should share my own ideas, and my thoughts on them.
- CMC Server or Chameleon Server
- CMC Database Creator
- CMC Hub or Chameleon Hub
"Database Creator" was my original working name, but the concept has grown so big that I feel this name doesn't truly encompass the new vision.
"Hub" is my current favorite. It sounds friendly, and it immediately suggests that this component will sit in the middle like the hub of a wheel. Hub is fairly accurate in that regard, as <NEW APP> will sit at the middle of all your CMC PC's and between them and the My Movies PC, and potentially other online data services. But at the same time, Hub is on the boring side.
I'm sure one of you can think of a better name.
One last consideration for naming - I would like the <NEW APP> name to be distinct enough to not get confused with an existing app. For example, when I named "CMC Metadata Exporter", I didn't consider how having both CMC in the name and using CME as the shorthand notation would cause support issues. On occasion, a user confuses CME with CMC, or doesn't even realize that "CMC Metadata Exporter" is a new, separate app and not just another name for Chameleon MediaCenter. That's my mistake (see, I said I was bad at naming) - one that I hope not to repeat for <NEW APP>.
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