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BBC releases open source toolkit for creating smart TV apps

The BBC has released a toolkit as open source software that will allow the television industry to build apps for smart TVs.

Developers working at the BBC built the TV Application Layer (TAL). It stemmed from the organisations drive to build the BBC iPlayer, News and Sport applications for Connected TVs on as many different devices as possible.

Pete Lasko, technical product manager at the BBC’s Future Media TV and Mobile Platforms department said in a blog post that there are hundreds of different devices in the marketplace and they all use slightly different technology to achieve the same result.

BBC releases open source toolkit for creating smart TV apps
Open the pod bay doors TAL

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to BBC iPlayer“Having figured out how to build an application on a specific device we want to use this knowledge to build additional applications for that device,” said Lasko.

He said the TAL answered this challenge by abstracting the differences between devices and creating a number of TV-specific graphical building blocks (like carousels, data grids and lists), we provide a platform upon which we can build our applications.

This meant that the TAL would allow developers to write an application once and for this to then work on all HTML based Connected TV Devices. The TAL runs across a wide range of different Connected TVs, IPTVs, games consoles, set top boxes and Blu-ray devices in the market.

Lasko said that by making the TAL open source this would allow other parties to contribute suggestions to the TV Application Layer. “This makes the product better for everyone who uses it, it allows our applications to work on more devices and therefore reach more of our audience,” he said.

More information on the TAL can be found on its website.

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