Video library redesign – do you use the Actors/Genres nodes?

Posted By: Team XBMC on May 24, 2009 in Site News

I’m currently reviewing the video library in order to make it far more flexible, as well as making it easier to use. The first thing I’m evaluating is just what sort of heirarchy is required for Movies and TV shows.  Our current heirarchy gives Genre, Actor, Director, Year, and Studio nodes in addition to the Title node.  Most of our users skip this stage by flattening the library – indeed, many skins nowadays take you directly to the Title nodes from the homepage, so some users may not know they exist!

Given that these nodes are not widely used, it seems sensible to see whether or not we can do things differently to get the same (or better) functionality without having such a heirarchy in place.

My initial thoughts:

  • Studio and Year browsing are likely not used at all.
  • Actors and Directors are better served by searching and/or a “Related movies to this movie” feature.
  • Genre browsing might be better served by some sort of “filter” system, where we just show you the movies or shows broken down by one or more genres.

One idea for a “filter” system is a Filter button which when clicked gives you a list of pre-configured filters, or allows you to design of a new filter, which is saved for later use.  Similar to smartplaylists, but simplified down a bit, and available in any listing.

If you have some thoughts, and in particular, if you make use of the current “category” nodes on a regular basis, then please head over to the forums and make yourself heard.

Discussion - 21 Comments

  • buzzra May 24, 2009 

    I use the year node sometimes. Never the studio node. I would like to use the genre node, but IMDB genres are screwed up and too many are added to each movie. If I could easily set my own genre for a movie, it would be MUCH more useful.
    I mostly use the “Recently Added” node. I would like to see more flexibility in what shows up in this list. The main problem is that it shows movies recently “SCANNED” into the library not really “ADDED”. This means that old movied that get re-scanned, show up in the recently added list. I would also like to be able to choose the number of movies in this list, up to the entire database, sorted by ORIGINAL date added to the database.


  • Chad May 25, 2009 

    I do actually use this feature once in a while, for example when finishing a movie and I look to see who was in it, its sometimes nice to see other movies in my library that have the same actor in them. I have always wished there was a extra category to this node though, recently added or maybe sort by the date the videos were added to the library.

  • olavjunior May 25, 2009 

    You’re right, I never use this feature! It would be much more usable with a sort of filter you’re talling about.
    I also like to see other movies with same actor, but then I hit “i” and find it via the actors tab (mediaStream)

  • RandyB May 25, 2009 

    I usually go directly to the movie title since I know what I want to watch but my wife and daughter start the “watching process” by asking themselves, “what am I in the mood for?”, and start with the genre usually. They also sometimes want to know other movies that a particular actor were in for later reference, but that could be handled as a search filter instead of a library sort function.

    A cool function to add may be a combination of things like a list of Oscar/Emmy winners by Year. But that’s a selfish motive to ask for since it’s been a personal goal to create a disk library of all the Oscar winners since 1927 – present. :-)

  • m2pilot May 25, 2009 

    I would like to echo buzzra’s comment about recently added — it is very annoying that rescanned titles end up on recently added.

    Currently the Title filter is alpha sorted 0-1, a-z. I suggest that the Year filter similarly be a sort rather than a pure filter. Simply order the titles based on release date “most recent” – “oldest” rather than the current “pick a year” scheme. This will let folks see which title is “newest” in terms of release vs newest in terms of being added to the library.

    Ditto the above for Studio — list the movies (probably in the release date as above) broken into groups by studio. Maybe not the best presentation, as every movie these days seems to have a new studio.

    The actor filter is currently unusable. Listing each actor by alpha on my system results in over 5000 names, which is just silly for a listbox presentation. This might be be helped by a flag which limits the list to only folks who appeared in a starring role. Or perhaps a presentation like a tivo where you must enter letters in a name and a bound listbox is dynamically updated based on the letters entered thus far. At the end of the day, my primary use case for this is “Show me all the movies I have with Jack Nicholson” (The search I was doing just yesterday as it happens). Implementing this query by requiring the user to first pick a movie that Jack is in and then saying show me similar or something like that is probably not the best way to go.

    Genre is just hopeless & I blame IMDB. There are so many genres that every movie ends up in many different categories. For instance, do a search on “Comedy”. I assure you, within the first 5 titles returned you will say “What?! That’s not a comedy…” Given that the data is hopelessly corrupted, I (personally) would not waste a momen’ts effort trying to fix the presentation.

    Oh well, my 2-cents for what they are worth…


  • Zag May 25, 2009 

    I don’t use any of these features, just want sort by recently added and director or year released. All of which should really be done from a filter inside the movie details screen.

    Also requesting multiple libraries (So I can have a menu item for Films, Stand up comedy, Sports dvds ect).

  • Jay May 25, 2009 

    I agree with buzzra. If I could configure the genre on my own, it would be much more useful to me. I also use Recent most of the time, after title.

    The biggest use for me would be the easy ability to sort into Childrens and non-childrens, as I have a lot of movies and television for my son. Another idea is to have “separate” libraries, configured by the user.

  • Gary May 25, 2009 

    I prefer you keep the Genre filter, I use this quite a bit from within mediastream by right arrow on “watch your movies”, this is a great feature, the rest I rarely use …

    It would be nice to have this in the skin as well, so when i right arrow , in the “view option” and click on filter, i get a pre-built list (plus some I can build on my own), rather than a textual filter…

    I would say something like


    Then allow people to build simple queries on their own…. The sort by Genre feature is the main reason i flipped from Mportal with moving pictures to XBMC (this is not yet in MP) and I’d have to lose this feature … if you have hundreds and hundreds of movies it’s great to be able to sort by genre.

    One thing I would really like is a program to be able to edit the database, to be able to modify the Genres (so I can add my own), the config editor in Moving Pictures is really handy to be able to be modify the data as you see fit… MP has some options like Title and thumb etc, but I can’t edit Genres (to say have HD, Original DVD, SD etc)..

    Cheers, and keep up the great work on XBMC.

  • Nate May 25, 2009 

    I use year sometimes, and the Recently Added often. being able to filter by letter would be cool.

  • jmarshall May 25, 2009 

    Thanks for your thoughts guys – nice to see we’re mostly on the same page. Those of you interested in searching might want to checkout the search button in the music library – it does pretty much exactly what you’re after in terms of actors.

  • onesojourner May 27, 2009 

    I would like to see the studio option gone and replace it with director. I can see these options getting more and more use as storage gets cheaper and libraries expand. Also I totally agree the genre tab should be totally user configurable. I would like to start out with a clean slate so I can add just a few key genres. I don’t want to open a list with 50 options on it. Just something like this:
    Chick Flicks
    Zombie Flicks

    Obviously this is a very custom list and most people would not like it but it would be very useful to me. So if I could just go through my library and tag my stuff with some of my custom genre tags I could really see myself using it.

    This might be a little off topic but I would like to see more actor functionality built in. I would like to see something that spanned the TV and Movies though. Something that would be useful for conversations that start out with “I have seen him before in something what was it….” Then you get on imdb and figure it out. It would be great to be able to do that right from xbmc.

  • Anass May 28, 2009 

    Hello Guys,

    I’m just asking my self why the mediastream theme displayed in this image in not the same as the default one ( the date is righted and there is 2 menus : left and right) !!! any idea !!


  • Greg Palmer May 31, 2009 

    I personally use XBMC over other open source projects due to all of this information being easily accessible. As long as there is an easy way to filter the list by say a specific year or studio etc.. then the need for pre-prepaired views seems pointless.

  • flood8496 May 31, 2009 

    I use the Actor field often but not as much a genre. I have been known to be indecisive about what I want to watch. I would appreciate it if both of those features stayed. Studio and Year are never used by me but I can see where year may be good to have around.

  • Whee Jun 13, 2009 

    I tend to use the Genre feature sometimes. I don’t rely on it heavily but it’s handy when you’re looking for something in a particular genre. Actor/Studio/Year I haven’t used in the past 6 months, and even then it was just for the novelty of it

  • Pencilhead Jun 24, 2009 

    Simple Playlist


    Would it be possible to have a simple playlist for TV shows based on the file name?

    Potentially a library option called “Filelist” perhaps.

    It would recursively scan nominated folders and return a directory listing and inside each directory listing have the filenames. (It has to do this anyway when creating library). It doesn’t matter what the name of the file is.

    I would then like to be able to apply the watched /unwatched / all options to it.

    This way XBMC doesn’t care about naming conventions and doesn’t have to scrape the internet for tv show information. It just returns a list of filenames in the directory and keeps a reord if it has been watched or not.

    ie. I want a very simple watched / not watched playlist. I don’t care and don’t want to have to rename files etc. to have them appear in library mode.


  • jmarshall Jun 24, 2009 

    @Pencilhead: Check out the forums, in particular my comments towards the end of the thread about this stuff linked above. Browsing by filename is planned (including compression of 1 folder level if you have each movie in a separate folder)

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  • extension23 Jul 07, 2009 

    I use the genere one quite a bit, but it is because I have nfo files for all of my films and I have created custom genres. In particular I use it to filter out children and family films for my daughter so she doesn’t have to scroll through hundreds of films with the remote to find the ones she likes.

  • Kev Jul 17, 2009 

    The ability to easily add a new TV show manually without scraping.
    The current method of creating a NFO is a bit of hit and miss with me. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes the scraper makes a mess of it.

  • Damion Aug 08, 2009 

    I use both please do not remove, never take away options. Try presenting the option to pick which you want and which you do not want.

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