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Typecast


Typecast is a new kind of electronic program guide (EPG), which is a fancy way of saying that it displays your television listings so that you can find the shows you care about. Conventional EPGs display a huge grid of programs and force you to scroll through it, searching for something you might be interested in. Instead, Typecast displays the television programs that you want to watch because it uses custom searches that you create to find what you want—and only what you want—without displaying a lot of programs you don’t care about.

Even if you already have a DVR (I have two Windows Media Centers, two Rokus, and a cable guide), Typecast is a great companion because its search capabilities are more advanced than any DVR. Typecast can perform more sophisticated searches to double-check your DVR’s upcoming recording schedule and find programs you might not otherwise know about.

Typecast is in alpha at the moment. This means it may crash or lose your data (or both). If you create your own searches, they may be lost or the database format may change. Of course, I’m doing everything I can to ensure that it doesn’t crash and that database changes will migrate your data (because I use it myself), but there are no guarantees with alpha releases. If you try Typecast and it’s not good enough for you now, that’s okay. Come back in a month (or three) and try it again. I promise to improve it (again, because I use it myself).

Programs

Typecast lets you create and save searches for your favorite television programs or for programs you don’t even know about yet (e.g., action comedies with Pierce Brosnan or Charisma Carpenter). Typecast isn’t concerned with what’s on now and doesn’t make you crawl through a huge grid of programs arranged by television station. You’re a serious TV viewer and you have a DVR (or VCR) and don’t care when a program is on because you time-shift everything and skip commercials. Typecast understands this and displays only programs that match your searches, from recent action/adventure movies rated four or more stars to soccer matches and only new, high-def episodes of Saturday Night Live with Whoopi Goldberg.

Typecast highlights programs that are currently airing or have already aired.

When you click on a program’s title, every detail about a program is displayed in the bottom panel.
The detail panel displays the following information about the selected program:

  • station
  • channel number
  • title
  • description
  • episode title (if available)
  • episode description (if available)
  • season and episode number (if available)
  • original air date
  • genres
  • content rating (TV or MPAA)
  • advisories
  • cast members
  • production crew
  • movie year
  • movie rating
  • [TODO] logo (if any)
  • … and more

Searches

You can create any number of searches so that the programs you care about get special treatment. Any search you make can be saved to a list of searches. You can edit, delete, and copy searches you’ve created.

The searches are saved in an XML file in your AppData/Local/12noon/TypecastData so you can back it up or copy it to a new computer.

Each search can specify a program’s colors, bold text, and images. Searches can also display reminders and send e-mails a certain amount of time before each program starts. You can create your own actions using the C# plug-in architecture.

  • title
  • description
  • episode title
  • episode description
  • season and episode number
  • actual air date
  • start time
  • actual air time
  • original air date
  • star rating
  • TV rating
  • MPAA rating
  • advisories (except others)
  • genres (except others)
  • [TODO] cast members
  • [TODO] production crew members
  • and more

Actions

For each search that you create, you can customize how it’s displayed in the list, including text color, background color, border color, and an image.
You can specify any image, but it’ll be limited to 16×16.

Typecast doesn’t come with any pre-installed images because there are so many available free of charge. For example, you can download a package of hundreds of free icons from FatCow.com. (When you unzip the file, copy the 16×16 images to a folder you will use with Typecast.)

You can also specify actions to occur a specified time before a matching program starts:

  • Reminder
  • E-mail

You can set a matching program’s background color, title color, title bold, border color, and image. Typecast can also display a reminder before the program begins. You can even ask Typecast to send an e-mail somewhere before the program starts or run an application.

You can also create your own actions using the published SDK to create a .NET assembly.

Listings

Typecast downloads listing data from Schedules Direct. Schedules Direct is an excellent, reliable, inexpensive, non-profit organization that provides excellent television programming data from Tribune Media Services (Gracenote). Schedules Direct has a rich history of providing quality television listings for personal use.

You need to purchase a subscription from Schedules Direct in order to use Typecast. They offer a free one-week trial, so you can try out Schedules Direct and Typecast to see if they’re useful for you. Schedules Direct offers a low-cost two-month subscription if you want to try it out for a bit longer before getting a full one-year subscription. As of June 2018, these cost USD$6 and USD$25, respectively.

Installation Instructions

  1. First, subscribe to Schedules Direct.
  2. Verify that .NET Framework 4.7.1 is installed on your computer.
  3. Download the Typecast installer and run it. This will install Typecast, create a shortcut on the Windows Desktop, and open it.

Every time you start Typecast, it will automatically check for a new release and update itself.

When you run Typecast for the first time, it will prompt you to enter your Schedules Direct login credentials so that Typecast can download data from Schedules Direct.

Pricing

Schedules Direct’s terms of use require any software that uses their service to be provided free of charge. In accordance with their TOS, 12noon.com provides Typecast free of charge.

In order to receive support after Typecast is released, Typecast users will be able to purchase one year of support for US$9.99. While I always welcome suggestions and comments, “support” means that I’ll take the time to reply and assist you with any issues that arise. I’ll also prioritize new features and bug fixes reported by subscribers.

Tips

List all episodes and highlight new ones

A nice feature of Typecast is that if a program matches multiple searches, the display attributes of the searches are combined. This means that you can list all episodes of a program and highlight the new episodes.

First, create one search to match all episodes (e.g., set Title to Modern Family and set Background color to “Gold”).

Then, copy that search (using the “+” button next to it in the list), edit the copy, clear the background color, set the “New” check box, and set the Action’s Bold title check box.

Now the first search will match all episodes of Modern Family and display a gold background color. The second search will match only new episodes and bold their title text.

… More tips to come …

Upcoming Features

  • Add more attributes to search on: cast, crew, etc.
  • Add search past listings.
  • Download channel logos.
  • Use TheTVDb.com to pull cover art, episode names, more …
  • Integrate with Trakt.tv and hide already-seen episodes or movies from results (optionally).
  • … and lots more.

Revisions

2.0.11

Improved layout of listings window.
Fixed displaying results when editing a search.
Hide Cast and Crew when empty.
Save size of detail pane, window position, and window state.
Changed icon for new-search button.
Allow exiting while getting search results.
Fixed updating range of schedule times.
Fixed “Season” label in Season/Episode display.
Prevent an update while getting search results at startup.

Display count of results next to search name.
Renamed “Plugins” tab to “Actions.”
Migrate current settings (e.g., credentials) to new version.
Added Clean button to Stations window to remove schedules from database.
Added Select All/None buttons to Stations window.

2.0 — 12 Jun 2018

Alpha release.

Screenshots