BBC iPlayer Radio 10

After a good few weeks I have the BBC iPlayer Radio application working again! You should find that the previous version 9 force-updates to the new version 10 when you start it. If not you can use this link for the installer: BBC iPlayer Radio MSI Installer

As usual, it was broken by changes to the BBC system. I’ve had help from some kind BBC staff and I’ve got it working again: it now downloads without needed to convert as well, so it’s a little faster in operation. I’ve also improved the metadata in the files saved to disk for those that use them directly. “Version 10” indicates that I’m following the modern convention of updating the version number by a whole point when you do a release – like Google Chrome – not that there is anything very special and new. Sorry! Smile.

BBC iPlayer Radio working again

Changes at the BBC end broke the BBC iPlayer Radio program for a couple of weeks. The BBC were kind enough to help when I got round to asking, and it should all now be working again.

However, you now get thirty days of radio programmes, not just seven days, so my program takes a while to process all the programmes and display them. Be patient and it should get there.

Thanks to everyone who alerted me to the problem, and the BBC staff for helping out!

BBC iPlayer TV 8.0.0

If you’ve tried to use the BBC iPlayer TV 7 program recently you’ll know that it is completely broken. A few months ago all the channels went except for Audio Described, and more recently that disappeared too.

Over the years (fifteen, I think, though that may be Radio) I’ve taken many approaches to delivering BBC TV programmes to blind users, from RealPlayer days to now. In version 7 I received some help from the BBC: a nice, fast way to get programme listings. So I put that into the software, and all was well.

You would think I would learn! This handy mechanism disappeared this year, I think without warning, and the channel listings with it. However, Audio Described lasted a bit longer because it didn’t use the approved BBC mechanism, and on examination it only took a tweak to make it work again. I’ve therefore done the work to make the other channels use the Audio Described mechanism, so we have a new BBC iPlayer TV 8, and you once again have Audio Described, channels including One, Two, Four and News, and a new Signed channel listing too. The listings will all take longer to load, but that’s just how it has to work now.

Generally every couple of years there is a burst of enthusiasm at the BBC and someone will reach out to me with great plans and proposals: a year or two later they disappear with their technical help. Individuals have been kind and supportive, but the BBC faces great commercial and political pressure, so I can’t blame them. Anyway, for the geeks: we’re back to screen-scraping, which is slow but I can patch it up when the website changes and doesn’t rely on flaky BBC cooperation.

Finally, I observe that we now have more hoops to jump through before programmes play – like a BBC logon. You should only have to get this set up and working once, and it will work smoothly after that. But you might well need sighted help to get you through these steps: I have fitfully automate these steps, but it was just too much for me to keep up with changes, so I’m afraid you’re on your own. More reliable, though, which is nice.

BBC iPlayer Radio 9.3.5

A new version of the BBC iPlayer Radio program. This should, I hope, solve any problems you have been experiencing with “skipping” during programmes.

A quick explanation: the BBC provides their radio programmes as AAC files. These play on Windows 8 and later, in theory. But I was having lots of reports of programmes skipping. I thought this might have been the code that downloads the AAC files, but I discovered that the AAC files skipped in Windows Media Player as well as in my program (which uses Windows Media Player internally), and my program successfully downloaded exactly the same file each time. Finally, converting the AAC file to another file type fixed the program just fine.

BBC iPlayer Radio therefore has a “conversion” step after downloading a programme where it is converted into a format that will play without skipping.

BBC iPlayer TV 7.5.0

I’ve updated BBC iPlayer TV to 7.5.0. For 7.3 and 7.4 I was using a JavaScript interface, but the new “Have you got a BBC TV Licence?” dialogue and other changes appears to have broken it (again!)

I’ve therefore gone to using the venerable Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) interface to hunt down and press the correct buttons on the iPlayer page. This is a bit slow, and you’ve lost the mechanism for pause or skipping. I could put that in another time, but for now it works, and that’s the main thing. You’ve also sadly lost the switching interface, but I suspect no-one was using it!

BBC Live Radio: local stations updated

I’ve now switched the all the BBC stations, national and local, to their new Audio Factory streams. Everything is working fine on my Windows 8.1 machine, but some points:

  • There are lots of different streams to choose from. UK or non-UK, and different bitrates (48,000 to 339,200), and different encodings (HE-AAC and AAC-LC).
  • I’ve chosen the non-UK streams because I have overseas users, although I understand that these streams will go quiet if the station is broadcasting something for which the BBC does not have international rights (e.g. sporting events). So I should probably do some detection, or provide an option, in the future.
  • This also means that I’m using the HE-AAC streams, for good or for ill, at a bitrate of 101,760. This might annoy some audiophiles, but I’m not one, so I’ll wait until someone complains.
  • Everything might be fine on my Windows 8.1 machine, but older Windows might not support the HE-AAC stream without installing a codec or other component. If you find nothing will play, do get in touch at support@webbie.org.uk.

Meanwhile, the BBC iPlayer Radio 8 is completely broken. Over the last week all the Windows Media streams that it used have been shut off. The good news is that lots of people complained to the BBC, so they’ve got in touch with me and promised to help. So far I’ve got the program to display the new catalogue, which means that you can still see programmes, but none of them play yet – and I don’t know why. I hope to get a fix sometime next week if they get back to me! (I can get the URL of the stream to play, but it doesn’t play in VLC or Windows Media Player).