A Tribute to Estuary Developer and Kodi Team Member, Piers

A Tribute to Estuary Developer and Kodi Team Member, Piers



April 26, 20241 min read

In 2015, Kodi’s default theme Confluence was growing long in the tooth. Most of the really exciting skins from that time accomplished far more, and Confluence was ultimately a 2009 update to an existing skin called MediaStream that was itself several years old. It was time for Confluence to retire. We needed something new that adhered to the UX best practices of the time.

I proposed some wireframes based on Google’s Material Design that were pretty vague, but I hoped would be enough to get us started. Almost immediately, members of our team of skilled skinners (Phil65 and Piers) jumped on the task. I made my initial suggestion early on the 17th of June, and Piers had already mocked up a complete home page later that day. His post at that time introducing the mockup had me chuckling for days. Once an idea struck him, the guy worked tirelessly to see it through.

"Zappy", the old XBMC mascot is Piers' avatar, and the text simply reads "Well, after my last post I opened Photoshop. NateThomas, I don't like you any more."

By the 18th, a day later, Piers’ mockup was revamped and looked remarkably complete. Unfortunately, those early designs have been lost to the internet gods, but we do still have a screenshot of the first alpha created in August that remained quite true to those early mockups.

A prototype image of what Kodi might look like - options in a vertical menu on the left, promotional images of movies and TV series across the centre and to the right

By September, Estuary was pretty well complete with two primary themes, the 3D-styled curial and the flat style which remains the default to this day. Piers and Phil65, along with several other skinners, notably BigNoid, had introduced a variety of features including the ability to select different color styles, like pink. The team also created a separate second skin designed specifically to work for mobile devices.

A final view of Kodi running the Estuary skin, showing how different color schemes (in this case, pink) can be used to provide subtle background cues as well as bold highlights for selected items

In 2016, these skins were officially released with Kodi 17 to universal praise within the community (for those interested in history, you can find the original blog post here). The work done by Piers and the team on UX/UI in 2015 and 2016 cannot be understated. They developed a lasting and original skin that remains in use to this very day.

We recently learned that Piers passed away. He was 37. He will be missed by those of us who worked with him on this project. We cannot emphasize enough his contribution to software seen and used by millions of people worldwide.

Thank you for everything, Piers.