A while ago I was working on a little tool to manage my media files – TV shows and movies that I’d ripped from my DVD collection that I wanted to make available through XBMC on my home theater system. To display things like plot, characters, runtime, etc., XBMC reads NFO files – which are just XML files – one for each media file. Entering this information by hand is not a fun afternoon activity, so I looked for a way to automate it. I found a couple of different sites that provided the data I needed via APIs and eventually settled on TheTVDB.com for TV series and themoviedb.org for movies. So all I needed to do was read the data using the APIs and write it to the NFO files. Simple!
For each TV series, TheTVDB provides a ZIP file containing several XML files which splits up the information to make it more manageable and allows for easier internationalization. A typical ZIP from TheTVDB contains files such as actors.xml, banners.xml, and en.xml. The actors.xml file contains a list of actors, the roles they play, a link to an image, etc.. banners.xml provides links to fan art and thumbnails which XBMC can use for display. en.xml provides the core data: a description of the TV series and a list of all the episodes from the series including plot, runtime, air date, etc. for each of them.
So what’s the best way to download and access this zipped data? Continue reading