At long last, we are at the final step of building your first Boxee application – release! After designing, coding and debugging our app we’re ready to release it in the wild by submitting it to Boxee for inclusion in the App Box.
The App Box is similar to the iTunes App Store developers are familiar with for the iPhone. It is the default repository for all Boxee software, all fully tested and confirmed to work on the platforms for which it is submitted. The submission process, however, is far less intrusive than Apple’s and ultimately produces the highest quality experience for the Boxee community of 700,000 users. Plus the submission process gets your app tested on hardware profiles you likely don’t have access to – a huge plus to guarantee your app looks good on all the devices running Boxee.
Let’s get started submitting the app we just built.
1) Make an App Thumbnail
The app thumbnail is what users see in the App Box as the icon to install your app. Naturally, our app thumbnail should concisely represent what kind of content the app contains and should attract users to install it. The thumbnail should be 200×200 and placed in the Internet accessible location we defined in the <em>thumb</em> element of our <em>descriptor.xml</em>.
The standard background for a Boxee App thumbnail
If you would like to conform to the look of the rest of the App Box (always a good idea), you can use this black image as a background.
1) Zip up the app
All Boxee repositories distribute apps through zip files. In order to speed up the review of your app, you can zip up your app so that it is ready to go for the quality assurance folks who will be putting your app through the paces. First we navigate to the <em>apps</em> directory in your local Boxee UserData folder and identify the folder containing our app – it should be the same as the <em>userid</em> we defined in our <em>descriptor.xml</em>.
Then zip the file with the convention <em>appid-version.zip</em>. For example, if we were submitting Auto-Tune The News for the App Box, we would name our zip file <em>autotunethenews-1.0.zip</em>.
Note: Be sure to remove the <test-app> element from your descriptor.xml before submitting!
2) Sign up for Boxee JIRA
Before sending your zip file to Boxee for consideration, you need to sign up for an account in Boxee’s bug management software. This will allow Boxee to get a hold of you in the event of any problems as well as use JIRA to submit your app. You can sign up at http://jira.boxee.tv.
3) Follow the Application Submission Process
Once you’ve signed up on JIRA, you’re ready to start Boxee’s Application Submission Process. Just hop on the developer wiki page linked here and you’re on your way!
When submitting your app to the Boxee App Box, expect that it will take 3-4 business days for your app to get checked by Boxee QA. With over a dozen apps in the App Box, it is a process with which I have gained intimate familiarity and can offer a few tips to make your submission sail.
- Debug Your App - Make sure you click on every button and every video in your app at least once. Boxee QA will definitely be doing the same and you can save yourself (and them) a cycle of iteration by doing it yourself.
- 1280×720 – Be sure you are always developing in a windowed Boxee client. This will make Boxee default to 720p, which will ensure your app looks the best on all screens. You can window your Boxee client by pressing the “\” key after you start.
- 480i - Make sure your video is at least 480i quality. If it’s not good enough for TV, it’s not good enough for Boxee.
Finally, there is one last step:
4) Tell people!
Be sure to post on the forums, your own blog and, if you would do me the courtesy, here on gonzee.tv to let the world know that you just published your first Boxee app! Cable packages only get a few new channels a year – Boxee gets dozens of new apps a month.
Get on Twitter, Facebook, Cliqset, and every corner of the Internet to let them know you’re tired of television and ready to change the living room with your first Boxee app.