The power of Scrapers

Posted By: Team XBMC on Jul 09, 2009 in Site News

For a growing number of our loyal users, we’ve noticed that more and more of you are using the nfo managers to organize your movie database. The XBMC team has no problem with these programs, however we feel that many of you are overlooking one of XBMC’s most powerful features: the ability to organize your media automatically. This post isn’t about trying to start a debate or spark any feature requests (the forums are full of both), just to share some things you might not know.

XBMC has a variety of web scrapers included

For those of you who are unaware, a web-scraper is a small script that is able to automatically lookup information about your media from popular websites and return the findings to XBMC. For a great majority of our users, the built-in scrapers should be able to correctly identify and populate covers and fanart, not to mention all of the metadata you would expect. One of the other benefits of using this method is that the scrapers are constantly being updated and refined, and fresh ones are added when the need arises. All you have to do is pick a scraper in the “Set Content” dialog and update your database.

You can contribute to the online databases

Thanks to the brilliant minds at TheTVDB.com and themoviedb.org, XBMC has at its disposal a vast wealth of user-contributed goodness. If you haven’t visited these sites you really should, they’re a testament to the power and reach of the open-source communities. The basic idea is that users can contribute their own information to movies and TV shows: images, summaries, etc. From that point on, any time a lookup is done on that particular media item by any user, the contributed information can be used. This means that a small amount of effort by the members of a huge community can quickly amass an incredible amount of metadata (and indeed that is exactly what has happened). As far as XBMC is concerned, simply choose these scrapers in the “Set Content” dialog.

It’s easy to export your current library to nfo files

That’s right, for those of you who would like to have a backup of your metadata (images included), or just scrape once and have the information available to other XBMC computers in the house, this is fully supported. Simply choose “Export video library” in the Library section of the Videos settings. Then be sure to export multiple files, and include the images if you’d like. You should now have correctly generated nfos for each.

You can help with scrapers

If you’re the adventurous type, and don’t mind getting knee-deep in some XML, you can help us to maintain the scrapers. If you see that something is not being imported correctly, pleast let us know in the form of a TRAC ticket. Patches are always welcome. And if you’re especially daring, you can even write your own from scratch if there’s a site that you find useful. Check out nicezia’s new scraper editor and the xbmc wiki for help getting started.


To many of you these things are probably nothing new. But it can be confusing for new users who see many beautiful screenshots and screencasts of XBMC in action but aren’t quite sure how to make theirs look the same way. Thanks again to our wonderful community, and remember to contribute to our affiliate sites. Try to keep in mind, if you submit the content you create for your own library, you’ll save everyone else with that media the trouble.

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Discussion - 7 Comments

  • crash123 Jul 10, 2009 

    Great post man, some good information. Yea the only reason I use a NFO Manager is because I don’t have the Xbox connected to the net.

  • Maximilian Jul 10, 2009 

    Update post with screenshots please? And a link to the wiki article?

  • GreenGrass Jul 10, 2009 

    Why is the new Scraper Editor and Scraper Tester not directly mentioned?

  • John Mack Jul 11, 2009 

    For both my tv show and movies I do all the NFO scrapping on my pc and store the *.tbn and *.nfo in the same folder as the *.avi File, The reason I use my PC is it is faster and it allows me easier access to change certain files via keyboard. As an extra tip I try to store my tv series in the following manner “Name S01E01.avi” It allows me to check in a few seconds what files I need or to check if I have a collection for someone else to take.
    Web site for the Media Companion prog that I use.

    http://www.billyad2000.co.uk/

    Regards,
    Mack
    An XBMC’er for life… (two spare orig xboxes with XBMC installed in case my own tv set box goes down.)

  • theuni Jul 11, 2009 

    Thanks for the suggestions, post updated.

  • Johny007 Jul 12, 2009 

    Thank you Mack for the tip.

  • bidossessi Jul 14, 2009 

    The first reason i use nfo managers is because i don’t have the internet at home.
    The second reason i use nfo managers is because these apps are dedicated to only one task: managing the media. It’s much easier done with a keyboard and a mouse for potential corrections. Some managers offer to reorganize your media in a more efficient structure, which is very useful sometimes. XBMC won’t touch my media files, but EMM CAN rename some of them if i wish.

About XBMC

XBMC is a free and open source media player application developed by the XBMC Foundation, a non-profit technology consortium. XBMC 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.