ABC iView on Boxee

A few months ago I switched from using the standard mythfrontend to Boxee, a web enhanced version of the popular XBMC project. Now Boxee has a LOT of potential and the upcoming Boxee Box looks very promising, but its fantastic web capabilities are let down here in Australia as things such as Hulu and Netflix streaming are not available here.

What we do have though is a national broadcaster with a reasonably good online facility. The ABCs iView has been around for some time and has a really great selection of current programs available on it. Sounds like the perfect candidate for a Boxee app to me.

So with the help of Andy Botting and using Jeremy’s Vissers Python iView download app for initial guidance, I put together a Boxee app for watching iView programs fullscreen. For those wishing to try it out, just add the following repository within Boxee:
http://noisymime.org/boxee

Its mostly feature complete although there are a few things that still need to be added. If you have any suggestions or find a bug either leave a comment or put in a ticket at http://code.google.com/p/xbmc-boxee-iview/issues/list (A Google code site by Andy that I am storing this project at)

So that’s the short version of the story. Along the way however there has been a few hiccups and I want to say something about what the ABC (and more recently the BBC) have done to ‘protect’ their content.

The ABC have enabled a function called SWF Verification on their RTMP stream. This is something that Adobe offer on top of their RTMP products despite the fact that they omitted it from the public RTMP spec. That wouldn’t be so bad, except that they are now going after open source products that implement this, threatening them with cease and desists. Going slightly technical for a minute, SWF Verification is NOT a real protection system. It does not encrypt the content being sent nor does it actually prevent people copying it. The system works by requesting a ‘ping’ every 60-90 seconds. If the player can’t provide the correct response (Which is made up of things such as the date and time and the phrase “Genuine Adobe Flash Player 001″) then the server stops the streaming. Hardly high tech stuff.

In my opinion the ABC has made a huge mistake in enabling this as it achieves nothing in stopping piracy or restricting the service to a certain platform and serves only to annoy and frustrate the audience. There is a patch available at http://code.google.com/p/xbmc-boxee-iview that allows Boxee to read these streams directly, however until such time as this is included in Boxee/XBMC mainline (Watch this space: http://trac.xbmc.org/ticket/8971) or the ABC come to their senses as disable this anti-feature, this Boxee app will use the flash interface instead (boo!)

So that’s it. Hope the app is useful to people and, as stated above, if there are any problems, please let me know.

[EDIT]
I should’ve mentioned this originally, Andy and I did actually contact the iView team at the ABC regarding SWF verification. They responded with the following:

Thanks for contacting us re-Boxee. We agree that it’s a great platform and ultimately appropriate for iView iteration. Currently we’re working out our priorities this year for our small iView team, in terms of extended content offerings, potential platforms and general enhancements to the site.

Just some background on our security settings. We have content agreements with various content owners (individuals, production companies, US TV networks etc) a number require additional security, such as SWF hashing. Our content owners also consider non-ABC rendering of that content as not in the spirit of those agreements.

We appreciate the effort you have put into the plug-in and your general interest in all things iView. So once we are on our way with our development schedule for “out of the browser” iView, we’ll hopefully be in a position to share our priorities a little more. We would like to keep in touch with you this year and if you have any questions or comments my direct email is ********@abc.net.au.

[STATUS]
The app is currently in a WORKING state. If you are experiencing any problems, please send me a copy of your Boxee log file and I will investigate the issue.

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27 thoughts on “ABC iView on Boxee”

  • Hi Chris. I forgot to mention it originally, but we did contact the ABC directly about the SWF Verification issue. At this point they are unwilling to change their stance. I’ve popped a copy of their response in the post now.

  • hi Jamie,

    Sorry about that, looks like the wiki page had an old link in it. I’ve updated it now.

    You don’t actually need the patch for Boxee though, only XBMC. If you simply add the Boxee repo mentioned above you can get the app and start running on a completely standard install.

  • Thanks for the quick reply noisymime,

    I am trying to get this working for XBMC but on OSX any tips as to how to get the patch run?

  • I haven’t ever compiled it on OSX I’m afraid, only linux. There are a lot of little dependencies that have to be installed for it to compiled, but I’m afraid I’m not much help with OSX

  • No worries, I’m new command line terminology but I worked out ../ =PATH and was able patch the rtmp.cpp file and compile XBMC. It seems to work great, another really fantastic addition to XBMC and Boxee.

    Thanks for all you effort getting this up and running.

  • Worked one time. Now hangs indefinitely on the “Loading” screen with no sign of activity. Would really like a fix as using a browser is a pain, particularly with no keyboard. Boxee 0.9.21.11497 on Mac OS X 10.6.2

  • Hi Andrew,

    It sounds like you might be running an older version? To confirm, within the latest version there should be a small label in the bottomt left hand corner saying “Version 0.6”.

    If the label is not there or has a different number then you need to update. The easiest way is to select the iView app but instead of running it choose “Remove from My Apps” and then add it back in. Boxee seems a bit funny with when it does its app updates, but hopefully that should fix your problem.

    If you do have version 0.6 and you’re still not getting the program listing loading then please let me know.

  • Thanks for the quick answer!

    I was getting version 0.4, which was the version I had originally added to MyApps when I first found it over on Fuzzthed but, this was after I had removed the app from MyApps and tried to run the app direct from your repository listing! I found that the original v0.4 files were still in the apps directory, and I had to manually remove them from the file system before v0.6 would run. (Then when I tried to add v0.6 to MyApps it repeatedly failed until I added and removed another random app from some other repository and tried again. Success at last!)

    Thanks for your efforts in building this app.

  • Mate, your boxee iView plugin is a beauty! Keep up the good work, I so appreciate people like you, Andi and Jeremy work on ABC iView workarounds that are STRONGLY wanted by the community (hello ABC, listening?).

    Cheers, TT

  • Looks like v0.6 has stopped working in the past few weeks. At least for me, it just hangs at the “Loading…” screen again. Boxee 0.9.21.12563 on Mac OS X 10.6.4

  • Yep – same issue of the hang on never ending load
    Hopefully a new issue that you guys can overcome
    let us know if there is something we can offer that will help
    Thanks guys

      • I have version 0.7 and only get a loading screen. I don’t suppose you are also looking to work on an app for 7,9 and 10’s catch up TV stations?

        • Hi tjw and sce,

          I’ve uploaded version 0.8 to correct a Windows specific problem, but it was a fairly specific issue and may not solve the problem you’re having. If you’re able to email me a copy of your Boxee log file (after loading the app) I should be able to fix things up.

  • I’ve just installed what I presume is 0.7 (first time install) – and it is hanging on the Loading screen. A shame: huge potential in this app. Hope it comes good.

    • It depends on your platform:
      Windows: c:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Boxee\boxee.log
      Linux: /tmp/
      -log

      Do you have version 0.8?

    • First off try removing it from the My Apps section, then removing the repository, restart Boxee and then add it all back in.

      If that fails to work, you’ll have to manually delete it. The folder to delete is com.noisymime.iview and its in:
      c:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Boxee\apps or;
      ~/.boxee/UserData/apps

  • Hey, just thought I’d mention, as a total Boxee noob, I tried to install your iView app and had no luck at all (“Error: could not get repository information. Make sure the URL is correct and try again”).

    Eventually I tried it without “http://” and it worked. I’m on the Oct 2010 version Boxee (0.9.23.15885).

    Anyway, great work, loving this.

  • Ken Westmoreland says:

    but its fantastic web capabilities are let down here in Australia as things such as Hulu and Netflix streaming are not available here.

    Try using a VPN… there are ones that allow people outside Australia to access ABC’s iView, just as there are allowing people outside the UK to watch the BBC’s iPlayer. (Unfortunately, the BBC hasn’t been that helpful on that front either.)

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