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  1. #1061
    Senior Member philchillbill's Avatar
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    [Announce] 'MediaServer' *certified* Alexa skill for LMS

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    Version 5.0 of MediaServer is now live and automatically deployed when you use the skill. The Amazon app will not list it as updated as there were no changes to the voice model — however, there are many, many changes to the code:

    * First off, most spoken responses are quite a bit shorter. For example, if you ask to play something that targets the assumed player, the response no longer mentions "... on the bla bla player" since that's pretty implicit. Playback/stream responses now usually start with a verb, and superfluous information is skipped (e.g. if an album name includes the artist's name — Bob Seger's Greatest Hits — there's not much point in saying that it's "... by Bob Seger".

    * It can take anything from 300ms to 3 seconds to start up the /stream.mp3 network client in LMS. That is a blocking delay because the playlist cannot be queued until the player is created. The spoken response from Alexa (which also blocks your audio from starting because it has to finish before the music starts) is now sent asynchronously so that you hear the speech while the player is still being created in parallel. This makes streaming much snappier.

    * The ListFavorites command(s) now show the favorite number and the associated dotted-ID (in addition to the favorite-name) on Echos with screens. In the screenshot above, the favorite number is in orange, the dotted notation is in blue, while unplayable items such as folders are dimmed with a red strikethru over the notation.

    * There's a new sorting rule for favorites (still based on the default skin), whereby nested folders are exhaustively extracted before popping back up a level to the next item there. This provides consistency up to 1000 items per nested folder and makes the numbering 100% predictable. When counting favorites manually, as soon as you see a folder, go into it and keep counting everything there (and below!) before moving back upwards in the hierarchy. It'll be obvious on your Echo's screen.

    * Asking to play a song by name now first queues the oldest match in your library with the shortest name, which is usually the original. Say you have 10 versions of 'Valerie' by Steve Winwood, where 5 are called just 'Valerie', 2 are called 'Valerie (Radio Edit)', one is called 'Valerie (Extended Mix)', and 2 are called 'Valerie (Live)'. The original 'Valerie' from Talking Back to the Night will play first. Next, one each of the Live, Extended and Radio Edit will be randomly selected and those 3 will be auto-shuffled. Meaning that 4 tracks will be queued. So the version you are probably after will always play first rather than a Live or Remix variant. Player shuffle being active will override this as the original-first-and-then-Fisher-Yates-shuffle is actually done by the skill and not LMS (it queues an array of track_id's).

    * Play/Stream song-index-from-album now only queues the track in question, rather than first loading the whole album it's from and jumping to that track. This results in artwork on Echos while streaming because that makes sense in the context of a single track.

    * Play/stream playlist commands have the same asynchronous speech as mentioned above for network clients, as they can also take noticeably longer before LMS processes them.

    * Playback commands that match many artists (e.g. play something by 'Bob' while forgetting to add 'Dylan' or 'Seger') will now show all the matched artist names on your Echo's screen to help you narrow things down.

    * Album/Song mismatches between requested/actual artist will now display results with coverart on your screen to help guide your choice. If you ask to play the album 'Abacab' by 'The Beatles' you'll see the retrieved cover art and metadata in addition to hearing that the matched-artist is actually Genesis. This is deliberately shown with a smaller image than the now-playing screen to avoid confusion, but becomes now-playing size if you choose to accept the correction.

    * Now-playing queries for online services Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal are now supported.

    * The background image for the Now-Playing screen has been changed to provide better legibility of textual metadata against the backdrop.

    * Fuzzy matching of artists has been noticeably improved due to making even more round-trips to LMS if needed.

    * Many commands make more use of the screen than they used to. Also, text is more responsive to the size and shape/aspect-ratio of your Echo's display.

    * Any artwork displayed is now set to best_fit rather than best_fill so non-square images won't look weird (thanks Staresy).

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by philchillbill; 2021-11-27 at 14:23.

  2. #1062
    Senior Member philchillbill's Avatar
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    I've created an 11 minute video that shows some of what MediaServer can do these days when your Echo has a screen and coverart/metadata can be displayed.



    Enjoy!

  3. #1063
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    Quote Originally Posted by philchillbill View Post
    I've created an 11 minute video that shows some of what MediaServer can do these days when your Echo has a screen and coverart/metadata can be displayed.
    Useful summary video showing a small subset of vast range of commands made available in this comprehensive Alexa/LMS integration.

    BTW If you play the clip in the same room as an echo device, just remember to mute your echo device mic first, else you'll likely confuse the poor girl!!
    Location 1: LMS 8.3 on Win 10 Brix Server, x3 SB Radios, x1 Touch, x1 Controller : Location 2: LMS 8.3 on Win 10 Brix Server, x2 SB Radios, x1 Duet Receiver, x1 Controller : Alexa Mediaserver Smart Skill, Material Android, SqueezeliteX control

  4. #1064
    Senior Member philchillbill's Avatar
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    MediaServer used to treat folders in your favorites hierarchy as unplayable items (their contents were, of course, playable). However, I've just added a new feature that queues all the sub-favorites in a folder when you ask to play/stream a folder-of-favorites itself. You'll be told the name of the first child-item in the folder that actually starts playing, and, with next/previous or goto, you can then jump through the contents easily because it's just a now-playing playlist. So if a radio station is playing crap, you can just say "Alexa, next track" to play the next favorite and see if that is acceptable, instead of having to request that favorite by name/#.

    This of course means that when you ListFavorites, the red/strikethru annotation no longer appears on your Echo screen for folders.

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by philchillbill; 2021-12-04 at 09:05.

  5. #1065
    Senior Member philchillbill's Avatar
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    New NowPlaying Screen

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    The NowPlaying screen display on Echo Show devices has been updated. Until now, this used a standard Amazon APL template intended to show an image and some plain text. It had the annoying characteristic of aligning against the right side of the screen when the text was short, meaning that the coverart image and text could have a large gap between them. There was also no support for embedding icons with this standard template — it's just a main image and some text adjacent and that's it.

    I've now written a full-custom template which is very responsive to both screen size/shape and also the length of the text to be displayed. It also places the following icons next to the text entries to make it clear what they are:

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    Finally, there's a progress bar at the bottom of the screen (on larger Echos, not the smaller ones) to show the percentage of the current track that has already played. It does not update in real-time — it's a snapshot of the situation when the voice command was processed.

    Enjoy !

  6. #1066
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    Quote Originally Posted by philchillbill View Post
    Name:  nowPlayingNew.jpg
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    The NowPlaying screen display on Echo Show devices has been updated.

    Finally, there's a progress bar at the bottom of the screen (on larger Echos, not the smaller ones) to show the percentage of the current track that has already played. It does not update in real-time — it's a snapshot of the situation when the voice command was processed.

    Enjoy !
    Nice one, looks good. I can confirm that the progress bar works fine on an Echo Show 5.
    Location 1: LMS 8.3 on Win 10 Brix Server, x3 SB Radios, x1 Touch, x1 Controller : Location 2: LMS 8.3 on Win 10 Brix Server, x2 SB Radios, x1 Duet Receiver, x1 Controller : Alexa Mediaserver Smart Skill, Material Android, SqueezeliteX control

  7. #1067
    Senior Member philchillbill's Avatar
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    Hybrid Voice/Touch control of LMS



    Now that I'm getting the hang of APL, I can easily capture user-input from touchscreen Echo Show devices. See the above quick-and-dirty video, which shows a beta copy of MediaServer (called 'Playground', so I can test both the live and beta skills without mix-up) asking to list Snow Patrol albums in my LMS library. I then choose and play one of them (on the assumed player) by touch-input rather than voice. The subsequent feedback on my selection includes both spoken and visual confirmation, in addition to the fact that the chosen album actually starts to play

    Obviously, exhaustively browsing your library is best done on a tablet/mac/PC because it has no limitations. Voice-control is great when you're under the shower or chopping vegetables and can't use a tactile controller. A hybrid of the two paradigms opens new possibilities — make an initial selection by voice, then narrow-down by touch after receiving visual clues (the spoken feedback stops when I touch the screen but would continue on a screen-less Echo).

    Any thoughts on how useful this would be?
    Last edited by philchillbill; 2021-12-04 at 04:47.

  8. #1068
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    Quote Originally Posted by philchillbill View Post



    Any thoughts on how useful this would be?
    Yes, definitely gets my vote.

    Having only recently got an Echo display device, it's the one feature that i thought it was missing. I was going to request it, but didn't think it was possible.

    I understand it's not intended to be a full blown controller, there are more capable devices for that, but some simple touch control would be a great enhancement.

    For example, it would be useful if selections could be made from the "Coming next" screen to allow items in the playlist to be skipped/selected.
    Location 1: LMS 8.3 on Win 10 Brix Server, x3 SB Radios, x1 Touch, x1 Controller : Location 2: LMS 8.3 on Win 10 Brix Server, x2 SB Radios, x1 Duet Receiver, x1 Controller : Alexa Mediaserver Smart Skill, Material Android, SqueezeliteX control

  9. #1069
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    Vote number 2 from a big fan of the Alexa Show. The more touch functionality the better to complement voice control, as we all have become very touch oriented when presented with a screen. Do you intend to make listing possible for other categories such as genre, year, album artist, etc.?

  10. #1070
    Senior Member philchillbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raglencross View Post
    Vote number 2 from a big fan of the Alexa Show. The more touch functionality the better to complement voice control, as we all have become very touch oriented when presented with a screen. Do you intend to make listing possible for other categories such as genre, year, album artist, etc.?
    Those lists would tend to be too long to be useful. I only show coverart for lists under 30 items and otherwise a textual list. But there’s a max of 8000 characters allowed. It’s fine for the smaller categories like artist/track/album. But not for huge lists.

    I might hijack the existing PlayerState command to show a large set of player controls that would work when touched.

    But now that I can customize so many things from a layout perspective, some of the current display quantities need to be revised to take advantage.

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