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Launchpad Entry: elisa-integration
Packages affected: elisa
We would like to provide Ubuntu users with a standard and well integrated media center solution much in the same way Apple Mac OS/X and Windows Media Center edition do. The plan would be to improve the Elisa Media Center to make it blend nicely in the desktop by any possible mean (visual integration, interoperability with other desktop applications, etc.).
A lot of Ubuntu users are asking for an all in one, simple to use and beautiful frontend to their media collection: hundreds of post in the Ubuntu forums include "media center" in their title, mailing lists are full of questions on which one to use and how to set up such a piece of software. Providing with a default and long term solution would answer that need. It will also allow Ubuntu to compete with Mac OS/X and Windows on a field a lot of casual users are interested in.
Photo watching evening
Alice receives friends at home for an evening. She wants to show them her photos from her recent trip to Egypt. She connects her laptop to her living room TV, fires up Elisa and plugs in her camera. She can select where to start her story and play a slideshow from a remote in a couple of seconds.
Tom is throwing a party and wants to prepare playlists using music and music videos from his laptop, his iPod and some YouTube-like websites. He launches Elisa to aggregate and organise all that content and then let it play for the rest of the night leaving him with more time to enjoy the company of his friends. Nevertheless, he's able to quickly choose a specific song as the next one or, even, select five or six songs which will be played in a given order after this one, returning to the original mode after that. All of that with a nice crossfade transition.
Bob has a computer dedicated to his passion: films. Every night he watches a couple of them on his home theater equipment from the thousands he possesses in various formats.
For now this is a rough list of ideas towards making Elisa feel integrated with the Ubuntu desktop:
- startup animation blending nicely with the desktop thus making Elisa a natural extension of the user's desktop
- media keys integration + support media keys to startup Elisa
- foreign collections integration: use media databases already available in Ubuntu such as Rhythmbox's, F-Spot's, Tracker's
- Pidgin integration: display contacts and allow audio and video conferencing from within Elisa
- Evolution integration notifying of incoming messages
- screensaver inhibition when playing slideshows, videos, music, etc.
- laptop friendliness: stop scanning on battery, inhibit suspend while playing
- greater presence in Ubuntu documentation, including tours and introductory guides
- tooltips - when you start your media player for the first time, it would be nice to get a message saying something like 'Did you know that Ubuntu has a built in media center, which lets you...?'
- Use an application-as-environment metaphor, as opposed to an application-as-window metaphor - so that Elisa functions as an alternative to the usual GNOME desktop. A number of things could be done to achieve this:
Exclude Elisa from the usual window management mechanisms:
- set Elisa to use full screen by default and make it so that leaving full screen mode isn't an obvious part of Elisa's functionality
- exclude Elisa from window list applets, etc
- don't put Elisa in the applications menu
Create alternative ways of starting, switching into and switching out of Elisa. This could include:
- hot and media keys
- a panel applet/tray icon
- integration with workspaces - so Elisa becomes a workspace
- create the option to enter the Elisa environment from the GNOME login prompt - a 'Media Centre Session'
- remote control activation - so if you press a button on your remote, Elisa automatically springs to life
- Gnome-Do activation - maybe through a Gnome-Do plugin
Do as much as possible to suggest that Elisa isn't an application and that it is in fact an alternative desktop environment. This could include:
- the 'Media Centre Session' login option (which has already been mentioned)
- a smooth animation for switching in and out of Elisa - something which suggests 'this is an alternative environment'
- fast, smooth, and seamless switching into and out of Elisa - load time should be as low as possible
No outstanding issue identified so far, but this specification is in its early stages and not implemented yet, so please report here any problems foreseen/encountered while implementing/using this specification.
BoF agenda and discussion
Use this section to take notes during the BoF; if you keep it in the approved spec, use it for summarising what was discussed and note any options that were rejected.