Web Browser

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Re: Web Browser

Postby scrager » Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:52 am

ryanxwalton wrote:
scrager wrote:I think chris0071 has hit the nail on the head with why shoehorning a web browser on to the Roku is a bad idea. If this was 1995 and 99% of content on the web was simple HTML and images, then sure. But these days the web ranges from HTML to Javascript to Java to Flash to HTML5 to you name it. Roku hardware wasn't designed for that and trying to make it fit is just going to result in a browser that no one wants to use anyway.

Everyone asking for a browser has this idea that it will work just like the browser on their PC, but I think that is an unrealistic expectation for a box that is focused on streaming media and not doing everything.

Everyone comparing to Apple TV shouldn't even be in here. If you want Apple TV features, then go get Apple TV. Yes, Apple TV will play netflix also, but I can guarantee you that Apple TV won't have a developer community creating channels for everything from archives and NPR to adult content. Even if Apple TV has an SDK, you know they will have an APP store just like they do with the iphone. That means that Apple decides what is good for you and they will only make available channels that are approved. That means none of the private channel experimentation.


One bad point that chris0071 made though:
A method of connecting and displaying a laptop through Roku, on the TV screen, (wirelessly or adding ports to hardwire it in) would seem more useful than an internal browser.

It seems like it would be much easier as well. Add video and audio in ports, and set up a channel to do the dirt work.


Um, if you're going to go through the trouble of hooking an external source up, why not just hook it directly to your TV. No need for a Roku middle man.


One of those comments you made was a personal attack on me. Well..I was just giving an idea to the OP that if he wanted a browser on his TV, he could try the Apple TV approach, because I use it, and I like it. Now..you're probably gonna assume that I'm so kind of troll. Well, I'm not. I own two Roku's. One I bought, and the other I got from Roku for beta testing, and I love them. I've gotten to be pretty deep in the community here, and if someone wants to do something, I'm not gonna just say I don't know to protect Roku's interests, because I don't work for Roku. I know how they can do it, and I'll give them the advice they want. Next time you want to attack me, at least use my name.


I didn't use your name because I wasn't attacking you. I was attacking the appleTV comparison. My point is that every complaint about the roku compares it to some other box while ignoring the benefits that the roku has over that same box.

Apple TV:
pros:
browser
smaller size
'prettier' interface but less usable

cons:
no apps
no sdk
less content
rent content only
sequential letter typing
720p only
have to use with itunes

Roku:
pros:
sdk
open channel development for any content in the right format
more commercial content
up to 1080p playback possible
no need for itunes or anything on your local network if you don't want it

cons:
no browser

Check this article for a head to head comparison on roku vs apple tv from a form apple employee where he chooses roku for many of the reasons stated above: http://blog.streamingmedia.com/the_business_of_online_vi/2010/10/apple-tv-and-roku-go-head-to-head-heres-the-winner.html. I especially like the comment about typing with the apple remote. Sure you may be able to sync up an ipod touch to get a better keyboard, but you can't say that appleTV for $99 has an easy to use keyboard if it requires a $229+ device to act as that keyboard. I could make the same argument for roku as there is an ipod touch app for the roku to allow you to type without having to navigate over the roku keyboard.
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Re: Web Browser

Postby TheEndless » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:03 am

scrager wrote:cons:
...
sequential letter typing

Not that it really matters, but I saw this in an article that was posted yesterday, and I just want to point out that the sequential letter typing is only in the configuration screens (wireless key, netflix username/password, etc). The standard search interface has a keyboard not much unlike the Roku's. The sequential keyboard screen is definitely annoying, but much less so if you have a lot of special characters or mixed letters and numbers.
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Re: Web Browser

Postby kbenson » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:14 am

chris0071 wrote:I have a question.

If these other platforms have a small drive space that allows for some programs to be run, then what happens if they fill up that drive space?

If they start allowing a browser, for example, in order to make it usefull and fully compliant across the wek, won't they have to allow for web apps and such to be installed? Some, like Java, are rather large installs, and are notorious for just adding on top of themselves rather than deleting old versions. I once had a 6 or 7 GB Java folder, for example, with about 10 older versions still lurking beneath the surface.

To be a fully compliant browser, stuff like Adobe Reader would need to work ... and .. well, you get my point.

This seems like one of those things where an internal browser might be more trouble that it's worth. A method of connecting and displaying a laptop through Roku, on the TV screen, (wirelessly or adding ports to hardwire it in) would seem more useful than an internal browser.

It seems like it would be much easier as well. Add video and audio in ports, and set up a channel to do the dirt work.

That's just my $0.02 worth.


This only holds if you believe that the iphone's built in browser isn't useful. Compliance for a web browser has nothing to do with PDF display, Java or any other plugin. Specifically because those are plugins, and not part of the core HTML specification. With HTML5, you get audio and video playback, but besides that, all you need to be able to do is correctly parse the HTML, CSS, images and content and display them correctly. A ported webkit (the underlying browser used by Apple and Google) could accomplish this.

The real technological questions are how to make the interface usable with a remote like the Roku's, and whether there's enough storage space on the unit to shoehorn webkit and it's required libraries without taking away all the space available for channel installs. I figure if they did implement a browser it would probably be on a later hardware version, unless these new units have more flash disk space than the old ones...
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Re: Web Browser

Postby TheEndless » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:22 am

kbenson wrote:all you need to be able to do is correctly parse the HTML, CSS, images and content and display them correctly. A ported webkit (the underlying browser used by Apple and Google) could accomplish this.

Is it safe to assume you're not talking about an actual BrightScript port? You mentioned in an earlier post that you had actually started working on one. I'm very curious how you would be able to do that with BrightScript. Particularly with layout of text and images (tables, text wrapping, multiple font sizes, etc), not to mention javascript support.
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Re: Web Browser

Postby kbenson » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:29 am

TheEndless wrote:
kbenson wrote:all you need to be able to do is correctly parse the HTML, CSS, images and content and display them correctly. A ported webkit (the underlying browser used by Apple and Google) could accomplish this.

Is it safe to assume you're not talking about an actual BrightScript port? You mentioned in an earlier post that you had actually started working on one. I'm very curious how you would be able to do that with BrightScript. Particularly with layout of text and images (tables, text wrapping, multiple font sizes, etc), not to mention javascript support.


Well, there's two things I'm talking about. A ported webkit (as a component or standalone channel) would get a fully compliant browser. I was just referring to a very rudimentary browser, something reminiscent to the blackberry browser prior to their new apple-esque version. Something like lynx/links + images. While not exactly the best browsing experience, it could make certain types of browsing worthwhile.
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Re: Web Browser

Postby GandK-Geoff » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:55 am

kbenson wrote:A ported webkit (as a component or standalone channel) would get a fully compliant browser.


My personal happy place? WebKit and related libraries wrapped into components, usable from any channel. And a working sample channel in the SDK showing how to tie them together (at least minimally).

I will note that browser security is HARD, and it may be that Roku does not have the programming resources necessary to support an "official" browser channel and keep it fully patched up to be secure on the wild wild web. But being able to consume HTML/CSS from our own channels, much like the embedded browsers in many online game clients, would just rock.

kbenson wrote:I was just referring to a very rudimentary browser, something reminiscent to the blackberry browser prior to their new apple-esque version. Something like lynx/links + images. While not exactly the best browsing experience, it could make certain types of browsing worthwhile.


And in doing so we may end up creating a good argument for a BrightScript JIT. :-)

Or hey, all of the major JavaScript JITs have ARM ports, so maybe just offer that as a new programming environment? ;-)
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Re: Web Browser

Postby jbrave » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:15 pm

As a developer I really need the opposite, I need to see the roku screen on my computer, it is a pain having to toggle back and forth between roku and my computer every few minutes, not to mention having to share the roku with my girlfriend... I guess that is the only benefit of not having the postseason on roku/MLB :-)

Wish there was some kind of vnc app in the roku that would echo out...
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Re: Web Browser

Postby kbenson » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:35 pm

jbrave wrote:As a developer I really need the opposite, I need to see the roku screen on my computer, it is a pain having to toggle back and forth between roku and my computer every few minutes, not to mention having to share the roku with my girlfriend... I guess that is the only benefit of not having the postseason on roku/MLB :-)

Wish there was some kind of vnc app in the roku that would echo out...


Well, you can pay $60 for unit to do dev on, so it's not TOO bad. That's pretty cheap, as long as you have a TV to hook it up to, and it's not like there's no use to when not doing development.
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Re: Web Browser

Postby scrager » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:05 am

kbenson wrote:
jbrave wrote:As a developer I really need the opposite, I need to see the roku screen on my computer, it is a pain having to toggle back and forth between roku and my computer every few minutes, not to mention having to share the roku with my girlfriend... I guess that is the only benefit of not having the postseason on roku/MLB :-)

Wish there was some kind of vnc app in the roku that would echo out...


Well, you can pay $60 for unit to do dev on, so it's not TOO bad. That's pretty cheap, as long as you have a TV to hook it up to, and it's not like there's no use to when not doing development.

we're getting off topic now, but even with a dev unit, you have to switch from computer keyboard input to roku remote input and it is a pain. a proper ide (of which roku doesn't even supply an impropper ide) would allow you to view and test within the ide itself, including debugging code without putting in print statements all over the place.
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Re: Web Browser

Postby kbenson » Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:41 pm

scrager wrote:
kbenson wrote:Well, you can pay $60 for unit to do dev on, so it's not TOO bad. That's pretty cheap, as long as you have a TV to hook it up to, and it's not like there's no use to when not doing development.

we're getting off topic now, but even with a dev unit, you have to switch from computer keyboard input to roku remote input and it is a pain. a proper ide (of which roku doesn't even supply an impropper ide) would allow you to view and test within the ide itself, including debugging code without putting in print statements all over the place.


Yeah, but there are specific, obvious reasons for that. To truly emulate the unit would mean that Roku couldn't provide assurances to content providers that their content was safe, would allow people easier access to the firmware running, and wouldn't necessarily match the actual performance metrics of the device. This wasn't an oversight by Roku, it was a conscious decision.

I could actually make an argument that requiring development to be done on a live unit using the actual control mechanisms may result in better code, as developers are actively prevented from assuming something that works in their emulated version will work in the wild, which isn't always the case.
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Re: Web Browser

Postby renojim » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:03 pm

More OT stuff...

I agree with kbenson. I'd much rather develop on the real thing than in an emulator/simulator. If the box was $1,000, I might think differently. I'm working on something for the Samsung Internet@TV now (what an absolute nightmare compared to the Roku, by the way) and it works in the emulator, but not on the real device. It's so easy to d/l and run something on the Roku that I don't think I'd use an emulator if I had one. The Samsung on the other hand, well don't get me started... :evil:

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Re: Web Browser

Postby greubel » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:09 pm

To develop without a TV, I bought an "iGrabber", video to usb.
Works on both mac and windows, better on mac. No switching.
Worked that way a month in Spain. Had a laptop, cheap wireless router, the Roku box and the iGrabber.
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Re: Web Browser

Postby TheEndless » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:24 pm

I have a monitor that supports picture-in-picture that I use for most of my development, but I also use a Slingbox when developing on my laptop.
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Re: Web Browser

Postby YungBlood » Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:13 am

Here's what I do to get full web on my tv... I have a av switch ($40). To that, I connected roku, dvd, and a computer. For the computer, I bought a vga-to-video adapter ($40). The computer is an older one I had lying around, so I installed linux on it. I have a wireless mouse & keyboard... I have plans of making an IR receiver for my computer, so that I can use my universal remote for it.

What I would like to see is some sort of remote desktop in roku. I envision the computer streaming it's desktop & audio out to a standard video stream. Then roku could easily work with it. Use the arrow keys to control a virtual "mouse", and feed that back to the computer... which would then update the real mouse position, and reflect that in the video feed. And if roku gets a keyboard, we could also feed that back to the computer. That way roku only needs to do what it does best. :)

If that could be done for windows/linux/apple, then we would have a universal remote desktop protocol... :)

Anyways... that's my 2c's....
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Re: Web Browser

Postby manoflinux » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:28 am

there is nothing wrong with the idea of simple browser for the roku. at least for the home brew crowd.
I would like to be able to access the vlc web interface with my roku. since I can stream from vlc it would be nice to hit the web interface from the roku, but honestly the android vlc remote app is pretty cool, and since I use the android roku remote( so I can hide the roku in cabinet) its not bad. but it would be kinda cool to just use the roku remote and and not the vlc remote.
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