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The power of Scrapers

For a growing number of our loyal users, we’ve noticed that more and more of you are using the nfo managers to organize your movie database. The XBMC team has no problem with these programs, however we feel that many of you are overlooking one of XBMC’s most powerful features: the ability to organize your media automatically. This post isn’t about trying to start a debate or spark any feature requests (the forums are full of both), just to share some things you might not know.

XBMC has a variety of web scrapers included

For those of you who are unaware, a web-scraper is a small script that is able to automatically lookup information about your media from popular websites and return the findings to XBMC. For a great majority of our users, the built-in scrapers should be able to correctly identify and populate covers and fanart, not to mention all of the metadata you would expect. One of the other benefits of using this method is that the scrapers are constantly being updated and refined, and fresh ones are added when the need arises. All you have to do is pick a scraper in the “Set Content” dialog and update your database.

You can contribute to the online databases

Thanks to the brilliant minds at TheTVDB.com and themoviedb.org, XBMC has at its disposal a vast wealth of user-contributed goodness. If you haven’t visited these sites you really should, they’re a testament to the power and reach of the open-source communities. The basic idea is that users can contribute their own information to movies and TV shows: images, summaries, etc. From that point on, any time a lookup is done on that particular media item by any user, the contributed information can be used. This means that a small amount of effort by the members of a huge community can quickly amass an incredible amount of metadata (and indeed that is exactly what has happened). As far as XBMC is concerned, simply choose these scrapers in the “Set Content” dialog.

It’s easy to export your current library to nfo files

That’s right, for those of you who would like to have a backup of your metadata (images included), or just scrape once and have the information available to other XBMC computers in the house, this is fully supported. Simply choose “Export video library” in the Library section of the Videos settings. Then be sure to export multiple files, and include the images if you’d like. You should now have correctly generated nfos for each.

You can help with scrapers

If you’re the adventurous type, and don’t mind getting knee-deep in some XML, you can help us to maintain the scrapers. If you see that something is not being imported correctly, pleast let us know in the form of a TRAC ticket. Patches are always welcome. And if you’re especially daring, you can even write your own from scratch if there’s a site that you find useful. Check out nicezia’s new scraper editor and the xbmc wiki for help getting started.


To many of you these things are probably nothing new. But it can be confusing for new users who see many beautiful screenshots and screencasts of XBMC in action but aren’t quite sure how to make theirs look the same way. Thanks again to our wonderful community, and remember to contribute to our affiliate sites. Try to keep in mind, if you submit the content you create for your own library, you’ll save everyone else with that media the trouble.