A media browser for leveraging (browsing, and surfing) multi-terrabyte home media servers:
Problem: I've got 2TB of videos, music, and images on my hard drives, and I've found my available tools to be too low-leverage on managing this anymore.
Context: about 2 years ago, I've stopped the directory structure madness, and embraced search as first-order link for media files. As a byproduct of this, I notice I don't have a clear mental structure of what videos/music is downloaded to my computer anymore, and to where (good riddance!). Neither do I want it to; instead, I'd like to have a "youtube for local hard drive":
Basically, I'm looking for a local Media Browser application for windows: specifically, an app which allows:
* thumbnailed preview of all videos & images
* Automagically categorized based on all online, or within-file available meta-information
* With a built-in search
To perform the following operations:
* Preview a thumbnail on video files (similar to file explorer)
* Display categorized lists of all media available locally on my drives
* Channelsurf, similar to youtube: be able to start from one movie file, and have "similar" videos around it
* Double-clicking on the file to start mplayer
* typing the first 2-4 letters of the movie/image to instantly bring up the list of media with that part in it
While specifically not doing:
* Anything that requires me to touch any of the files in any way shape or form whatsoever
* Any upsale (I'm looking at you, windows 8 "personal videos"), advertising, or introduce any friction during interaction
* Bringing up any browsers: solution must be windows-native, and responsive (<20ms results)
Specific things I've tried so far:
* The closest thing I can wave towards "want" is apple's itunes, and JRiver's media center; they both share the same weakness of not being able to use mplayer as playback engine
* Banshee on windows is unable to show video previews, have multiple stability issues, and can't use mplayer for double-click
Plex shares the terminal disability (with itunes, and JRiver) of trying to be two things at once: a media browser, and a media player; quite similar to how file sync programs before dropbox were terminally unusable by trying to include redundant functionality ( http://qr.ae/rwZF4 ).
Regarding built-in media players, not one vendor takes usability of playback seriously. Specifically, when I hit "enter" on a file, that means I'd like to see it played back, like, now. Not "queueing", nor 5 seconds later. When I scroll left & right, that means I'd like it to go +-1 min / hour, like, now; and not 5-10 seconds "seeking". On my quadcore 3.4ghz battlestation, this remains a problem for every single native, and web-based app. MPlayer is, to date, the only one which consistently delivers on sub-second videoplayback, and it does so from cold start.
(There are also major problems with how subtitles are handled by players, but I grant you that might be a niche)
Hence my strong requirement above for the app to go with shell.exec, instead of half-baked non-implementation of every single video codec under the sun.
+1 for Plex. I almost gave up on the idea of a HTPC after the headache of correcting hundreds of mislabeled files in XBMC. Since I switched to Plex, the problem has all but disappeared (I can think of 3 or 4 things I've had to manually correct).
I started on something like this here, https://github.com/wallace/zuggy. I imagine a sqlite3 db with a rails app with vlc in a docker container. One day I'll have the time to make it happen but for now, there's too many other projects on my plate.
edit: Also, I'm not sure how to make it a viable business.
started doing something with this with my automation system https://github.com/dandroid88/webmote. endedup just leveraging mpd instead but when i was working on it it was much like you described where you could walk the server/discs and just play music from the browser screen. From there I planned on all the meta data enhancments but then got busy with other things. Ill find the computer with that branch and push if i can.