[mythtv-users] RANT: MythTV has a *horrible* end user experience.

Jon jon.the.wise.gdrive at gmail.com
Sun Feb 24 12:31:07 UTC 2008

On Feb 24, 2008, at 2:21 AM, endo verendo wrote:

> Okay, first of all, for all its faults, I love MythTV.  I use it  
> everyday.  I really want it to do well.  It's a totally open  
> platform in one of the most "closed up" worlds out there (media/TV/ 
> movies/Holywood/**AA industries).
> That said, the user interface is the worst thing I've ever used.   
> It's not user friendly, it's inconsistent, and it's downright  
> irritating.  As the owner of the device, I can make it work...but  
> good luck handing the remote to anyone else.  This makes mythtv a  
> non-starter in any household occuppied by both technically-oriented  
> and non-technically-oriented people.

This is interesting. My system uses a cheap hauppage card and remote,  
and I've managed to make all the buttons on the remote (though I  
could use more) do all the major things. I can toss it to anybody,  
and they can do basic navigation, play and pause. I have multiple  
sets of skip buttons, which can confuse people (up and down will skip  
10 mins, left and right 30 seconds forward and 4 seconds back, the FF  
and RW buttons do exactly that, and allow multi press to go faster/ 
slower and finally the commercial skip buttons to skip forward and  
back over commercials) but otherwise, it's pretty simple.

> In my opinion, the biggest flaw is in playing back recorded TV  
> versus playing back videos (AVIs, etc).  The problem here of course  
> is that MythTV has two different movie players with two completely  
> different sets of controls.  This just isn't going to work for the  
> average user.  Having to tweak my remote settings manually to get  
> both sets of controls semi-similar is painful.  And even then the  
> controls/interfaces of mplayer vs. the internal player are  
> different to the point of being obnoxious.  Any media played with  
> MythTV needs to run under ONE player.

I don't totally disagree. There does need to be just one player...  
but you're talking about an open source program that does so many  
things already, mplayer and xine are just better at playing some  
content. That doesn't mean your remote can't have basic  
functionality. You have to set it up. Your keys can then control  
those programs just as well.

> Any controls that require pushing number keys on the remote for  
> operations should not be allowed.  There's no reason all menus  
> shouldn't be operable with, "up", "down", "left", "right", "ok",  
> and "cancel" buttons.  Everything needs to be onscreen and easily  
> learned.  Optional shortcut keys are fine, of course.

Not technically viable. If you want them to remove features from  
myth, maybe, but otherwise, there's a lot of things that it can do,  
and many of these things are things you don't want a menu popping up  
asking you how to do it. This isn't to say there needs to be less  
buttons. But which ones to take out?

> New video content needs to be automatically detected.  Having to go  
> to "video manager" to scan for new content is neither necessary  
> from a technical perspective nor user friendly.

Mine does this. It's in the frontend setup.

> The setup screens need to be completely rewritten.  Basic common  
> options need to be up front, advanced, seldom used options need to  
> be buried but accessible.  The setup needs to be far more  
> hierarchal, rather the "linear" screens that currently mix  
> fundamental and advanced options.  The setup screens in mythtv are  
> far scarier than any text-based Linux config file I've ever seen.

While I somewhat agree with this, more specifically, I think there  
needs to be a more in depth look at each of the million and one  
settings, and concise explanation of what they all do. You embellish  
though, I've seen some nasty text-based config files.

> Most of the themes have issues.  For one, checkboxes I can barely  
> see and can't determine the selected state of at 1920x1080 from  
> across the room (even though the font next to it is in perfectly  
> legible inch-high letters).  And then there's the thin one-pixel- 
> wide dotted lines surrounding the active select field drop down  
> control which are completely invisible from the couch.

Gotta agree with that. Themes are a bit of an issue. See, there's a  
few that work pretty much okay, and most people that are working on  
myth are more concerned with making functionality work. There's a few  
theme-makers, but that's not the majority.

> I apologize for being blunt, but you guys have all the technology  
> in this thing to achieve "world-domination", and the only thing  
> holding it back is the painful UI.  If MythTV had one media player  
> and a complete UI rewrite, it would have no competition.

I think you misunderstand the benefits of using external players,  
namely, the internal one is still very much beta software.
The UI isn't nearly as bad as you let on, though it does need some work.

Keep in mind, Mythtv isn't even to version 1.0 yet. If you think the  
UI sucks, make it better. I am sure that there will be plenty of  
people that will thank you. Don't knock the ability to use external  
players though. You can set it to use the internal player for most  
formats of files, and I use it as often as possible, but it is still  
buggy. The problem there is that the internal player is not an entire  
development project like other media players, but rather just a small  
subset of a much larger project, which makes resources for  
programming it sparse. It's time will come.


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