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3 - CME Best Settings

How-To and general support for the CMC Metadata Exporter (CME) which exports My Movies data via the My Movies API.
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Pauven
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Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
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3 - CME Best Settings

Post by Pauven » Thu May 23, 2019 11:34 am

What are the best settings to use for CME?
When I programmed CME, I realized that one configuration may not work for everyone, so I made many of the settings configurable. These numerous options may be confusing, so here I will detail the ideal default settings, and you can tweak from there as you see fit. The screenshot below also shows these ideal settings.


CME Metadata Export Options
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  • Restrict Export to Folders/Shares... - Set this to Disabled. CME uses the API to determine where to write the metadata files (as the API specifies where your media lives for each title). With this disabled, CME will simply export any title regardless of where it lives, which should be perfect for most users.

    The exception is that if you keep certain servers/drives offline or otherwise want to normally exclude servers/drives from the export process, you would enable this option, and list the acceptable folders for exporting on the 'CMC Watched Status Syncing' tab. CME will check every file against this folder list, and if the file does not exist in one of those folders it will be skipped.

    You might find this option useful when you are first setting up CME and have multiple servers, and want to focus on updating a single server at a time.

    As always, you can use the "Test Only (No Write)" option on the main window to verify that you have this properly configured before letting CME write any data.
  • Force Update XML Metadata - Set this to Enabled. This forces the CME export to always write the current title data to the metadata file (mmTitle.xml, mmSeries.xml, mmEpisode.xml), overwriting the target file if it already exists. While you may want to leave this disabled when you are first testing how CME works for you, for proper functionality this must be enabled. Remember, CME never creates/overwrites the mymovies.xml files that MMCM maintains - this setting only affects the unique CME created metadata files.
  • Export Artwork - Set this to Enabled. I really can't imagine why you wouldn't want to export artwork, but you can turn it off if you really want or need to.
  • Force Update Folder.jpg Art - Set this to Enabled. This forces CME to overwrite any existing folder.jpg files (or <ISOname>.jpg files for discs configured as "Online Files"). We highly recommend you enable this, as CME uses the full size cover artwork to create brand new folder.jpg images with superior size and quality compared to what My Movies creates. When viewing the DVD cover rows in CMC, you will notice clearer, sharper images with less jaggedness if you let CME overwrite these files for you. Additionally, these images that CME exports are actually smaller, so they take up less disk space and load faster too!
  • Force Update TV Series Artwork - Set this to Enabled. This forces CME to overwrite any existing artwork files that are related to TV Series (i.e. Homeland.poster.jpg, Homeland.banner.jpg, Homeland.backdrop.jpg, Homeland.Season01.banner.jpg, Homeland.Season01.poster.jpg, Homeland.S01e001.jpg). We believe that these filenames are unique to CME, so by enabling this option CME should only be overwriting TV Series artwork created by itself, not other tool or My Movies. We highly recommend you enable this.
  • Force Update All Other Artwork - Set this to Enabled. This forces CME to overwrite any existing artwork files not covered by the other options. This primarily includes the mymovies-front.jpg, mymovies-back.jpg and fanart.jpg files. Since some users like to maintain or freeze this data to prevent unwanted changes, disabling this option will prevent CME from overwriting any of these existing artwork images, though we normally recommend you enable this.
  • TV Series target output filepaths - Use the default of Collapsed. This controls where the TV Series and Season metadata is written. CMC works the same with either setting, so this is more of a personal preference, though be warned that the Structured setting may write files to the wrong folders.

    When set to Collapsed, TV Series and Season metadata is written to the same directory with the TV Episodes.

    When set to Structured, CMC will write TV Season metadata to the parent folder of the directory that contains the TV Episodes, and TV Series metadata will be written to the grandparent folder. If you use Structured output and your folder structure doesn't follow Binnerup's guidelines perfectly (and I mean absolutely 100% perfect), then you will get TV Series and Season metadata written to the wrong folders.

    The most common mistake is not using the directory structure of \<Series>\<Season>\<Episodes>, especially for a TV Series that only has a single season. For example, The Blue Planet is a single season (it doesn't include The Blue Planet II), and I originally had it stored on my server as \\Server\TV_Series\The Blue Planet\BluePlanet.iso. Since the Episodes are in the directory "The Blue Planet", the My Movies Season metadata was written there, and the My Movies TV Series metadata was written to the TV_Series directory, which is wrong. The solution was to move the ISO file to a season subdirectory, like this: \\Server\TV_Series\The Blue Planet\Season 1\BluePlanet.iso

    If you really want to use Structured (I use it myself as I like the file organization better), please please please run a "Test Only" + "Only Export TV Series", and pay close attention to where the mmSeries.xml files and Season banner.jpg files will be written for each TV Series, and then fix any that are wrong by changing your folder structure and updating the title in My Movies Collection Management.

    If you're not sure which is right for you, or just want a more care-free experience, Collapsed gets the job done and you won't have to worry about metadata files being written to the wrong folders.
  • Export Changes Only - Set this to Enabled. Please note that when you perform your initial metadata export, you want this Disabled to force everything to export, but then Enable it from that point on to quickly process only changes.
  • Query for changes since - Set this to Last Run. CMC records the date/time of the last successful run, so "Last Run" allows CME to stay in sync with exporting all changes with the least amount of work. The other options are there mostly as a convenience if you need them, and might prove helpful in rare circumstances.
  • Query for changes every X minutes - I typically set this to 1 minute, which is the quickest possible value. It typically only takes a couple seconds to query the My Movies API for changes, so even running once a minute produces very little load while ensuring that your most recent collection changes are exported and ready for CMC to import. This works best when "Query for changes since" is set to "Last Run".

    NOTE: You can set this to 0 minutes to disable the automatic running. This allows you to manually run a single Changes Only export.


Startup Options
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  • Start CME minimized to System Tray - Once you are comfortable with CME, set this to Enabled . When this is enabled, when CME is started it won't open a window, but instead will minimize down to the Windows System Tray (where the clock lives). This works best with the next option to AutoStart is enabled, as that way CME will behave like a background process, automatically maintaining your metadata.
  • Autostart Export on CME program start - Once you are comfortable with CME, set this to Enabled to begin the export process as soon as CME is launched. This works really well if you add CME to your Windows Start folder, so CME starts running automatically every time you boot your PC, and enable the Start Minimized option - CME will then behave like a background process.
  • Append Log File on each run - Set this to Enabled. This does not affect performance. When disabled, the log file resets and overwrites on every run, keeping the log file small, but since the export is running every minute, you won't be able to see any activity from before the last run. I like to Enable this all the time, as then it appends to the log file instead of overwriting it, and you can see all activity for days/weeks/months.

    Do keep in mind that with this enabled, the log file may become very large after some time, so on occasion you should click the 'Clear ALL Export Logs' to keep the file size reasonable.


CMC Watched Status Syncing
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The CMC Watched Status Syncing feature is entire optional. It allows you to update your My Movies collection with the watched status from CMC.

The normal Metadata Export is unidirectional only, going from My Movies -> CME -> File -> CMC.

The Watched/Unwatched Status Sync goes the other direction, CMC -> File -> CME -> My Movies, updating the My Movies database with the Watched/Unwatched status from CMC.

This is an optional, nice to have data sync and not a required step. Ideally I would say to run this once a month or maybe even once a week, as that should be quite sufficient to keep the My Movies database in sync with your CMC watched status.

The list of folders you configure here should normally match the scanned folders list you put in CMC for Syncing, though if you have network shares that you normally keep offline, you may want to omit them here.

While you could process this more often if you want, please keep in mind that the CMC Watched/Unwatched status is stored as a flag file in each media directory, so to update My Movies these files have to be opened and read, essentially forcing a full scan of all directories and waking up all NAS servers/shares/drives.

NOTE: There is a bug in the My Movies API, and the 'ClearWatchedStatus' tag does NOT work. While we can use the API to set a title or episode as Watched, we can not clear the flag to set it as Unwatched. This bug has been reported to Binnerup, though at this time we do not have an ETA on when or if this will be fixed. The log will report on any Titles that cannot be updated to Unwatched, so you can update them manually in My Movies Collection Management if you so desire. There is also a "CMC Out of Sync Titles Report.txt" file in the CMC Logs directory that presents the same info in a nicer to read format.

That explains the Watched/Unwatched Status Sync, but what about the "Also Scan for mmMovieID.txt files" option?
Most My Movies users track disc-based collections in My Movies, but My Movies can also be used to track your non-disc media as well. For example, you could have a Mk4 rip of Batman Begins, and enter it into My Movies as a Movie and not a disc.

But if you are a My Movies user who has these non-disc based movie entries, then you will discover that My Movies doesn't automatically export the cover artwork for these titles. My Movies only exports a mymovies.xml metadata file with the <Movie> tag, but no artwork. There's also the issue that the My Movies API doesn't export these non-disc Movies at all. So My Movies Collection Management exports a mymovies.xml file, but nothing else, and the API is blind to these titles.

To solve this issue, we have coded special functionality into both CMC and CME, and you will need to check the box to enable "Also Scan for mmMovieID.txt files to export non-Disc Movie Artwork" to use it. Long story short, by enabling this feature, you will get the cover artwork for non-disc Movie titles.

Note that this is a multi-pass process for non-disc Movies, so set your expectations accordingly:
  1. Add the Movie to My Movies Collection Management, which will create the mymovies.xml <Movie> file
  2. The next Sync in CMC will read the mymovies.xml file, importing the Movie (but no artwork), and create a new mmMovieID.txt flag file for CME
  3. The next scheduled CME "Auto-Sync" will find the flag file and use the API to export the missing movie cover artwork
  4. The next CMC Sync will pull in the new exported cover artwork
Since the Sync process will spin up the hard drives in your storage media to scan for these files, we advise restraint when scheduling the Auto-Sync job. Instead, you may just want to manually run a Sync on demand by clicking the 'Sync Now' button after adding new non-disc Movies to My Movies (and after running a sync in CMC to create the mmMovieID.txt files).

Yes, this is a convoluted process - if you don't like it please complain to Binnerup since this is an API limitation that I've had to work around to make this even possible.
President, Chameleon Consulting LLC
Author, Chameleon MediaCenter

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