Dev Journal: Kodi’s Switch to RERO Development And A Call For Android Devs

Posted By: Nathan Betzen on Apr 28, 2016 in Dev Journal, Site News
early_often

Editor’s note: Kodi 17 is a big, big release, and we’ve decided to break down blog posts about it into smaller pieces. We’re starting with an explanation of the new release philosophy we’ve been using for Kodi 15, 16, and 17.

Release Early, Release Often

A number of users have noticed that Kodi seems to be putting out releases much more frequently these days. We just released Kodi 16.1 and now we’re releasing Kodi 17 Alpha 1? Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves? Why aren’t we letting things settle in first?

The answer to this question boils down to a pretty simple release philosophy that we’ve adopted called Release Early, Release Often (or RERO).

RERO is a release philosophy in which we try to wait only a few months between releases. The main purpose of this is to make devs feel less rushed. In the past, devs would know that if a feature didn’t make it in by the deadline, then there was a chance that the project they’d been working on wouldn’t be seen by the community for as many as 18 months, when our next release was finally ready. So they’d occasionally push a project into mainline Kodi that was maybe only half baked and in need of serious polishing. This, combined with huge 18 month development cycles with tons of new features, meant that the beta release process would get absurdly long, because there would be hundreds of bugs across all platforms that had to be dealt with before we could consider releasing to the public.

With RERO, almost all those problems go away. Each release has fewer conflicting features. Nobody rushes a feature in, because they know there will be another release in about six months. There are still major, show-stopping bugs to deal with with each release, but there are far fewer. Meanwhile, users get the benefit of seeing new features much faster than they otherwise might have, and we get much more feedback from users than we would if these features were hidden away in betas for 10 months at a time.

In fact, RERO has removed nearly all the bigger release-related problems Kodi faces, while introducing only two minor ones. With so many releases, the community is far more interested in platforms that auto-update, like Android and Linux. And on feature-light releases, writing a blog about those features isn’t quite so exciting.

A Call for Android Devs (and Windows and iOS)

As many of you know, we are a bit shorthanded in the Android development department. While there are actually two projects SPMC and MrMC that have Android devs committing code, the upstream project Kodi has no one at the moment. If you are familiar with C++ and Android development (particularly recent Android TV development) and would like to help, feel free to speak up in our forums. The devs of SPMC and MrMC are very nice people and would likely be happy to mentor you. In addition, much of the early work you’d need to do would be to simply port the work done on SPMC and MrMC into Kodi, so the learning curve shouldn’t be as steep it otherwise might be.

And we can’t stress this enough, if we don’t get an Android dev soon, Kodi for Android could very well die out. This is a significant future problem.

FAQ About the RERO Experience So Far

With such short time between releases, is it harder to catch bugs and is each release buggier?

- No. In fact, because there tend to be fewer bugs when a feature is pulled in, it’s actually easier to catch the remaining bugs. Some users have felt like the *.0 releases have been buggy, but *.0 releases are always buggier, on all platforms for all software. That’s just how software works, and it’s been true for Kodi since at least 2009. Lots of users love 14.2, but they forget that 14.0 was a nightmare.

I’m on version X, and I like it and see no reason to upgrade. Do I need to upgrade?

- No. While Kodi doesn’t officially support old versions of our software, major releases are feature releases, while point releases are bug-fix releases. So while we do recommend that you go to the highest point version of Kodi you are running, you only need to upgrade to the newest release if you want the features in it. In other words, we recommend that you upgrade to Kodi 16.1 from Kodi 16.0, but only upgrade from Kodi 15.2 to Kodi 16.1 if you want the new features (or if you just want to upgrade to the newest and best).

If you’re doing all these releases, why don’t you make it possible to auto-update or more easily update?

Kodi actually can be updated quite easily and automatically on several platforms. In particular, Android devices with Google Play, OpenELEC/LibreELEC, and OSMC allow for auto-updating. Regular Linux platforms allow you to run a quick line of code to update. iOS is currently having some problems with Cydia, but in general can update. That primarily only leaves Windows, OSX, and Kodi on the Fire TV.

Our hands are tied, a bit, on the Fire TV. As long as we are not allowed in Amazon’s store, we can’t easily push updates to that system. For Windows and OSX, there is actually a PR that exists that would enable auto-updating. It’s just not quite ready for release.  Whether it ever becomes ready will depend on a dev polishing it up.

Those are the most frequent questions we’ve seen. If you have any others about this shift to RERO, feel free to write in the comments below. We may update this FAQ as time goes on.


Discussion - 64 Comments

  • Tyler Apr 28, 2016 

    There’s a Kodi 17 alpha? All I see are nightlies.

    • Nathan Betzen Apr 28, 2016 

      It’s not out quite yet, but will be out soon.

      • david lamaina Apr 29, 2016 

        How experienced do u have to be to help with the c++ programing need.

        • Sofia May 22, 2016 

          Back in the school I had A+ for c++ I am available to help but I need a guiding and I am very quick learner

          • Craig Jun 08, 2016 

            I would also love to get involved with the android dev work, I have experience with C++ and Android Java apps but not much together yet.

    • winston Apr 29, 2016 

      i have notice a bug for the windows version on every windows device i installed it to from version 15 and up

      • Stephen May 29, 2016 

        Are you The Winston I used to work with at The Chicago Computer Exchange in Chicago Hyde Park???

    • N8tivman Jun 11, 2016 

      WHAT THE HEN!? I thought they were going to RERO!!!!! More like REWTHWWT.
      (Release Whenever The H*ll We Want To!) – No different from any other releases…. sighs…

  • Anon Apr 28, 2016 

    Kodi can be fairly easily updated on windows via chocolatey: https://chocolatey.org/packages/kodi
    On windows 10, one can even use Microsoft provided OneGet as a package manager.

    Chocolatey and OneGet is similar to package managers in linux (apt-get, for example) and chocolatey package repository is akin to arch user repositories.

  • ben Apr 28, 2016 

    Unreleased code is lost value. good to hear about RERO :)

  • CP Apr 28, 2016 

    What about MySQL users? We’ve got to be pretty careful rolling out updates that will bump the DB schema. Will there be some really clear indications when the fast-releases are changing the DB and when they aren’t? (Same policy of a schema change on every major version increment?)

    • Martijn Apr 28, 2016 

      Expect any big version to change the database. It has always been like that

    • forcedalias Apr 30, 2016 

      Exactly my concern but then again the whole shared database thing never really worked well for me.

      Still waiting on a plex-like KODI server for CentOS so I don’t have to worry about manually managing the SQL db.

      If and when they do, I hope they don’t require CentOS 7.x or higher because there’s no way I’m “upgrading” (read: downgrading) to a systemd-using OS.

      • Zebraitis May 01, 2016 

        “Managing a my SQL database?

        As a person that has been using a distributed MySQL database in Windows (7, 8.1 10) across 3 buildings, with systems running Windows, Linux, Apple, and Android… if you are worrying about managing MySQL, then you are doing it wrong.

        MySQL runs in the background of a server that KODI wakes when a system needs to access it. It is also where my “stuff” resides.

        Of all the tech, the MySQL DB takes the least attention.

        • james May 11, 2016 

          Not exactly my experience. I went to the trouble of installing the recommended version of mySQL, setting up all the xml profiles, exporting and importing my existing database to use shares etc.. It all worked well until I installed some driver updates…and then my SQL died. I set it up a second time installed some driver updates…and then my SQL died. It’s way too finicky to be reliable so I can well understand everyone’s concerns about breaking databases as it’s a pain to keep reconfiguring this. At least that’s what happened to me

        • Martin Conroy May 12, 2016 

          Agree – in the main my household using MySql from a central DB is somewhat seamless, if fact I wish it would centralised MORE stuff!

      • Glenn Byron Jun 03, 2016 

        I have been running MySql on a Raspberry Pi with two Kodi Raspberry Pi, and it has been flawless. This included going from 15 to 16.

  • Chris Apr 28, 2016 

    Please try to add cast/ chromecast functionality to future builds.

  • legion Apr 28, 2016 

    Will the new version clear the cache whilst watching live TV to avoid buffering pausing etc ?

    • Ned Scott Apr 29, 2016 

      That’s not how the video cache works

  • Ash Apr 28, 2016 

    Kodi 16 has been by far the most stable release in my experiance, i think i was even running Beta 5 on my prod with out any issues…Thanks to everyone involved, I thought i’d add something positive before the “when is Kodi going to be able to ….” comments!

  • Max Apr 28, 2016 

    Another problem raised by RERO is that Skins can not evolve that fast. Have you though about some policy that would allow Skin designers start working on their Skins earlier? Like “all changes that require Skin modification should be part of Alpha 1 or 2, after that no changes allowed” or “all features candidate to a new release should publish the skin requirement changes early in the process” (even if the feature is yet not fully ready for merge)

    • Mario Apr 28, 2016 

      @Max

      With every new cycle of Kodi development changes to skinning have been posted in the forum. It’s a moving target (skinning, etc) but skin focused devs are pretty active on the forums amongst themselves and with users of their resperctive skins.

      For instance:

      Changes to the skinning engine for Kodi Krypton

      http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=250862

      Personally I think the latest crop of skins are pushing what was once thought possible with a skin in Kodi.

      If you check out the roadmap http://trac.kodi.tv/roadmap you will see future goals for Kodi (and changes to skinning is a part of that).

      Thanks to all the Kodi devs for all the great (hard) work and thanks to the skin devs for making Kodi look so good :-)

      Mario

    • Ned Scott Apr 29, 2016 

      Skinners on Team Kodi raised the same concern. To help combat this, an serious effort is made to minimizing skin breaking changes in certain versions. At the very least, if a skin is broken then less work will be needed to fix it. In some cases, some skins will work between more than one version even without an update.

  • Stuart Crouch Apr 28, 2016 

    On the firestick. Firestarter checks for and updates kodi. You still have to kick it off manually but it is as simple as a button press.

    • Chris Apr 28, 2016 

      It would be interesting to have a Kodi to Kodi update process. I have a few Android boxes running in the house on Amazon devices. It would be great if I could update one, the others would find that instance via Kodi’s UPNP, prompt update available, serve the apk from the installed instance to the outdated one and update. Pipe dream? I know Android had apps that are able to “extract apks, wonder if that would be a possibility for us android users lacking Play store on our devices..

    • Tides May 10, 2016 

      That is the preferred method I recommend for those less technical people. Would be nice to have that native to Kodi though.

    • Ste Robinson May 15, 2016 

      Firestarter seems to have disappered from my Firestick. Any ideas why? Is this a general thing?

      • Tim McNamara Jun 02, 2016 

        Firestarter was blocked by Amazon in their last update.

  • Florian Apr 28, 2016 

    Great article!!

  • Troy Apr 28, 2016 

    I’m glad to see the team actively seeking android developers. As platforms like the Nvidia Shield go down in price I think it will be a very important platform to support.

  • hackbird Apr 28, 2016 

    Since 2013 i am using xbmc/kodi and i like the new features what will come on every upgrade.
    Now i am excited maybe the retroplayer are inside kodi 17… It will be great all to have in kodi. Movie, Pictures, Music, Live TV and finally play RetroGames when it maybe comes.

    Will it comes in kodi 17 (retroplayer)?

    • Nathan Betzen Apr 28, 2016 

      Unfortunately, retroplayer isn’t slated for 17. The dev, garbear, decided to break up retroplayer into 2 huge chunks. The first chunk is revamping controller input to deal with the many quirks of retroplayer. The second chunk is the actual gaming system.

      For Kodi 17, controller input is included, the gaming system isn’t.

  • Jerod Apr 29, 2016 

    I 2nd that, please please, pretty please ADD CHROMECAST BUILT IN SUPPORT would be AMAZING. Thanks for Kodi, it’s the BEST :)

  • Team PTVB Apr 29, 2016 

    Android
    I can volunteer my time to port over to Kodi. I am not an android developer but I have some knowledge in making basic Android apps and compiling Kodi. Hoping a Guru join and I can help that person as well.

    Also, I can donate some Amlogic S812 snf 905 Android tv boxes for the Android team.

  • Anthony Apr 29, 2016 

    For the Windows platform auto-update challenge, are solutions such as
    ClickOnce (https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/t71a733d.aspx) or
    “Project Centennial” – Converting your Classic Windows App (Win32, .Net, COM) to a Universal Windows App for Distribution in the Windows Store (https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2015/2-692) possible solutions?

  • J876 Apr 29, 2016 

    Great work by all the developers who contribute to Kodi and the great addons.

  • hdmkv Apr 29, 2016 

    If Kodi foundation can’t address the core problems that led to Koying leaving and Davilla feeling hostility, how will you attract, and more importantly, retain new Android devs?

    • DaButcher Apr 30, 2016 

      My thought Exactly

  • Claudius Ellsel Apr 29, 2016 

    How about going a bit further and having a rolling release without versions? Just a nightly/test/beta and a stable branch.

  • GoTeamScotch Apr 29, 2016 

    Oh man, Kodi Android development halting would be a major bummer! I use it all the time and is the most easy and pleasant Kodi/XBMC experience I’ve had between platforms. I hope someone comes along to pick up the slack.

  • Chris Williams Apr 30, 2016 

    How do I update the firetv

  • mazey Apr 30, 2016 

    Androids amazing, who needs 2 remotes and extra noisy boxes, just get a android tv (eg sony bravia 2015/2016) and your good to go. 1 remote and no noise. and kodi works well, id die if android dev stopped and would stick to 17 alpha 1 forever lol

    • mazey Apr 30, 2016 

      i forgot to mention, alot of people (im guessing half the devs) have android phones/tablets they can test fixes on heh. just install the apk using es file explorer and play around its small screens but its exactly how it works on android tvs and android boxes atleast the arm ones anyway :) hopefully someone can nail that high cpu usage on 1 core problem which was intriduced recently.

  • PhilS Apr 30, 2016 

    This is where the SOC manufacturers such as Rockchip should step in because they know that if there is one app that helps sell their boxes, it is Kodi, so if there is a danger of Android being left behind or even dropped then it will affect their sales.

  • Luis May 01, 2016 

    6 month release cycles? I don’t think RERO means what you think it means.

  • Anon May 04, 2016 

    Since you explicitly state that users don’t need to upgrade: what’s your policy regarding security fixes (with libraries or Kodi itself)? Are these backported? Otherwise you really cannot advise people to use older versions.

  • Dave May 05, 2016 

    I have tried 16.1 twice on a P.C running windows 10 both times there is sound but no picture only a coloured screen it ran perfectly on 16

  • Johan Peeters May 07, 2016 

    Hello

    If the kodi team wants to they can use my youtube channel`s to call for co-op
    dont know how much space you guys need

    i have a average of 50.000—100.000 views each 30 days and growing rapidly

  • Zider May 08, 2016 

    Make Kodi a universal windows app and it’ll be updated automatically.. and work on more platforms. Hint hint. ;)

  • Luca May 08, 2016 

    And what about iOS programmer? :D

  • Kierstin May 09, 2016 

    So when it’s time to update Kodi on a fire stick will I have to uninstall and reinstall the new Kodi?

  • Drey May 13, 2016 

    I would love to see the Kodi organization release an official hardware product with Kodi pre installed. Then use that revenue to pay the developers. There are dozens of hardware manufacturers making millions off these dev guys. And in my city there are people peddling Amazon Fire TV Sticks that are rooted with Kodi pre installed for $200. Every time they sell one they make $150 for rooting a AFTV Stick and installing your software. If Kodi made just a few thousand of those sales, there would be enough money to pay a full time dedicated dev team. And if you imagine that two or three hundred thousand of these are probably going to be sold in total in the next couple of months… Start selling an official Kodi device and you’ll have half that business. You would have enough money to open a non profit dev campus. All you have to do to incentivize people to buy your hardware is sell it available with the latest software release for one month before it is available to the public. This will also make the Whole Kodi experience better because some of these Android boxes on Amazon are real shit. I also bet they have malicious code on them steal people’s info. It is a win, win, win situation. I am an IT guy with an MBA. Reach out to me and I could put together a very solid business plan for you. It would take me about 100 hours so I would only do it if the Kodi team was seriously interested.

  • Robert Edmunds May 16, 2016 

    Will you be adding the functionality of adding your own shortcuts to the home screen? Downloaded the latest nightly build and it’s not there at the moment.

    Thanks

  • shagunballa May 23, 2016 

    Nice blogging.

  • DePriest43 May 23, 2016 

    Does anyone know how I can get latiest version of kodi that has the TTS feature. I am a blind user and I am having a hardtime finding the correct link on the website.

  • DePriest43 May 23, 2016 

    Oh, and I’m using windows 7 32bit… Thanks for any help you can give.

  • KWise May 28, 2016 

    How would I update Kodi on my fire stick?

  • Josh Jun 02, 2016 

    is anyone else having trouble opening the nightly files on an android tv box? i am getting the following messages for the past few weeks, can’t open file, parsing the package error. does anyone have suggestions about what i can do, thanks

  • Brandy Jun 05, 2016 

    Hello I have a amazon firestick and for some reason it will not let me download anything. Anybody know why or is anybody else having this problem?

  • Archi Jun 07, 2016 

    I have tried on PC with windows and i had problem with picture.

  • Carla Jun 24, 2016 

    Since we have gone to an RERO development cycle, can we have a feature (that can be turned on/off) that automatically updates to the next stable release? Perhaps a nightly check and update at a user set time? Thanks for making Kodi better!

About Kodi

Kodi is a free and open source media player application developed by the XBMC Foundation, a non-profit technology consortium. Kodi is available for multiple operating-systems and hardware platforms, featuring a 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls. It allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media files from local and network storage media and the internet.