[mythtv] Improving playback groups

David Engel david at istwok.net
Sun Feb 14 18:55:40 UTC 2010

On Mon, Feb 08, 2010 at 07:42:13PM -0800, Jim Stichnoth wrote:
> It would be nice if many more settings could be overridden by a
> Playback Group, such as fill mode, captions, playback profile, aspect
> ratio, OSD properties, audio options, etc.  For example, all of my
> children's recordings should play without captions and should exit
> playback at the end without prompting (in contrast to recordings for
> grownups).  Some subset of these should play with an Adjust Fill mode
> of Full.  Certain programs on certain channels should use an Adjust
> Fill mode of Half.
> [much deletia]
> What do people think?  Is this a reasonable approach?  Would there be
> any real interest in putting something like this into 0.24?  If not, I
> would probably just implement it locally for the handful of settings I
> care about and skip the entire Settings UI portion.

Hi Jim,

The suggestion to greatly extend playback groups comes up
periodically.  I don't know about the other developers, but I've yet
to hear a suggestion that I like for a couple of reasons.

First, there is the difficulty in deciding which parameters should be
included and which ones shouldn't.  I wrote the feature specifically
for the skip ahead amount and the default timestretch speed.  That
should be enough for everyone, right? :)  OK, I did make the API
extensible, but I honestly didn't expect it to be done much, if at
all.  In my current opinion, any significant extension needs to
cleanly and simply handle virtually any playback related setting.

Second, and probably much more importantly, the UI needs to add more
value than complexity.  For example, the multi-level, nested scheme
you described sounds great in theory, but I really can't see it
working well in practice.  I've used applications that implemented
such a scheme and it was always a pain to move around several dialogs
or tabs to see the small handful of settings that were changed from
the parent settings.  IMO, any UI needs to make it easy to quickly
identify all settings that are changed from the default (or parent).

I haven't given this a lot of thought, but I'm going to throw out an
idea for s simple UI to handle a greatly extended playback groups
feature.  What if the guts of the interface was simply a multi-line
text box for listing key=value pairs to override the default settings?
No, it wouldn't be idiot proof, but it would be simple, make it easy
to see exactly what settings are changed and be immensely flexible.

David Engel
david at istwok.net

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