Guaging interest in Open Source Media/HA software


Hello all,

I recently created an application to fill my own needs and I'm looking into the option of open sourcing the code and expanding the project. The code I've created thus far composes a relatively robust video database manager and browser.

Here are some key features:
  • MySQL back-end with well-defined and normalized data
  • Object-oriented C#.NET class-based design
  • Interactive GUI for adding/browsing/searching/playing video collection
  • Ability to import movie data and cover from IMDB
  • Windows service daemon for starting necessary software to mount/play video (currently tested with Daemon Tools and Zoomplayer)
  • Ability to send play command to windows service daemon from one PC to another. (for remote control)
I've been looking recently at HA software and though I've found some good looking solutions (CQC, etc.) I've been disappointed at the price of the software when most seem to be heavily supported by their user-base.

I believe my video database software could provide a good starting point for an open source HA suite (at least allowing users to browse and play their movies via remote) and I'm wondering if others are interested in this as well. It would certainly be a large undertaking and is probably out of the realm of something I could do myself in any reasonable amount of time.

Please let me know what you think,

P.S. I'll try to remember to post some screenshots of the application when I get home later today.
How does your software and direction compare to other open source projects like XLobby?


The software I created is very much like XLobby. My software is not yet as feature-rich, but I believe I have created a very solid and flexible code base that could easily be expanded. In addition, I would eventually like my software to grow into a broader home automation suite. It would be nice to include the ability to control RS232, IR, GlobalCache, etc. Finally, I think the biggest difference would be that I am looking at open sourcing my software which would mean anyone could make any changes they liked or felt would be useful. XLobby (while free) is not open source and only allows users to interact with the software via a plug-in API (which greatly limits an end-user's ability to alter the product).
I've been thinking along the same lines lately. I haven't been able to find any software that does everything I want that dosen't cost a small fortune. I like different features of several products so have heavily considered developing something on my own - I was leaning toward buying HouseBot but it now looks as though Meedio/HouseBot is about to go belly-up.

If I developed something myself I was thinking of going down the Linux/FreeBSD road so everything would be "free". There are a few decent back-end HA projects out there for *nix, but I think there is a strong need for a Xlobby/HouseBot/Cinemar style front-end that runs on *nix.

In the Windows world I'm nore of a VB.NET guy, but count me in for any assistance you need.

Please send us some pictures or a link so we can see it, when you get a chance.

As for doing HA, it is a tricky field and a difficult choice in deciding when to simply talk to other applications and when to re-create functionality that already exists.

Have a look at my Open Source HA project, I have similar decisions to make. I am about to add USB-UIRT for home theater / IR control, but have to decide if it is just better to stick to the features I have and use another package for that, or over-stretch my resources and try to tackle it all.

From a previous project, I have databased all of my music, movies, tv shows, software, etc... stored all the bit rates, resolutions, codecs, IMDB#, etc and made the collection searchable. Even with that, I so don't want to work on it =) So it would be nice to have an open source HT app that I could just recommend to use in combonation my free software, etc.

If you decide not to go forward, put your source on hehe ;-)

I like the idea of C#... I might be interested in helping out but I must admit that I am happy with CQC right now. I would go ahead and setup some sor tof OS project and just see if it takes off. You never know!
MainLobby client, being a Flash based application, has run on Linux. The Server component (MLServer2) is a Windows based product today.

Also, MainLobby is far beyond a "front-end" but is a robust automation platform as well. MLServer2 takes this the next level and should be released in the next couple of weeks.
DavidL said:
MainLobby client, being a Flash based application, has run on Linux. The Server component (MLServer2) is a Windows based product today.

Also, MainLobby is far beyond a "front-end" but is a robust automation platform as well. MLServer2 takes this the next level and should be released in the next couple of weeks.
you may be correct but MainLobby and its associated modules are also far from inexpensive.

I looked at ML a few years back and though it was nice the prices kept me away... that and the complexity of integration with X-10, multi-zone audio, and controlling PVR software and the GUI customization... it was just not at the at the ease-of-setup level I expected at the high cost.

As technology progresses very fast these days for the price I think that other suites are quickly overtaking ML in both price and feature set. I'm sure there is room for everyone but for the DIY on a budget (not free but reasonable $) ML is too much dough and too much work to customize.

I'm leaning to Homeseer (which I have owned for 3 years) and integrating a front-end like XLobby (free) or something like the new front-end that Harmony is putting out for Homeseer. If it shapes up that will be the way to go for homeseer users.

BUT... I'd like to see what Ryan comes up with!
Hi Aaron,
MainLobby is so configurable and customizable that there is a learning curve to it. What we have done with MainLobby3 / MLServer2 is create initial scenes that work out of the box that surpass anything else I have seen in the automation / media management business. Our booth was full at EHX with many saying "Best of Show".

From a price perspective, MainLobby is at the higher end of the DIY market, but at the extreme low end of the Dealer / Professional Integrator end of the market. Our Dealers keep telling us that we are way too cheap. But, we don't want to alienate any of our customers either.

If XLobby or Harmony meets your need, then that's cool. IMHO, there just isn't any comparison what you can do with MainLobby and the end results compared with either. MainLobby integration with MLHSPlugin is Homeseer's #1 plugin and growing. Our relationship with Homeseer has never been better and we hope to ramp it up to another notch soon.

It might be a good time to give MainLobby3 / MLServer2 another try. We hope to have a revised demo available soon after the new products launch in a couple of weeks.

By right-clicking on a cover you can select Play from a context menu. This, in turn, sends a command to a windows service daemon (on the computer of your choice) which then mounts (if necessary) and plays the selected file. I've only tested with daemon tools and zoomplayer but any software that accepts command line parameters should work equally as well.

iolaus, It looks like you may have to manually select the genre and add the description. I think this because of the images you posted. You are aware of the meta data providers that offer this information in a parseable format right?