If you haven’t already installed xbmcswift2, head over to the installation page.

The purpose of xbmcswift2 is to empower plugin writers to develop and debug their plugins faster. This is faciliated by:

  • A bootstrap script to create an empty addon complete with folder structure and required files.
  • Seamless testing of addons by enabling an addon to be run on the command line or in XBMC. xbmcswift2 handles mocking the xbmc python modules to ensure your addon will run (in a limited fashion) outside of XBMC without any code changes.
  • Basic URL routing code, so you can focus on writing the web parsing code specific to your plugin, and not deal with repeated boilerplate and url parsing.
  • A library of helpful functions and code patterns to enhance your addon’s functionality.

Introduction to XBMC Addons

Before going any further, you should already be familiar with the general file structure and necessary files for an XBMC addon. If not, please spend a few minutes reading about addons in the XBMC wiki.

Creating the Plugin Skeleton

xbmcswift2 comes with a helpful console script that will create a plugin skeleton for you, including all the necessary folders and files to get started. Simply run xbmcswift2 create and answer a few questions to personalize your addon.

Below is an example session:

$ xbmcswift2 create

    xbmcswift2 - A micro-framework for creating XBMC plugins.

I'm going to ask you a few questions to get this project started.
What is your plugin name? : Hello XBMC
Enter your plugin id. [plugin.video.helloxbmc]:
Enter parent folder (where to create project) [/private/tmp]:
Enter provider name : Jonathan Beluch (jbel)
Projects successfully created in /private/tmp/plugin.video.helloxbmc.

Hello XBMC

If you navigate to the newly created folder plugin.video.helloxbmc, you’ll find an addon.py exactly like the one below.

from xbmcswift2 import Plugin

plugin = Plugin()

def index():
    item = {
        'label': 'Hello XBMC!',
        'path': 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/KA-youtube-converted/JwO_25S_eWE.mp4/JwO_25S_eWE.mp4',
        'is_playable': True
    return [item]

if __name__ == '__main__':

The above code is a fully functioning XBMC addon (not that it does much!). So what does the code do?

  1. After importing the Plugin class, we create our plugin instance. xbmcswift will parse the proper addon name and id from the addon.xml file.

  2. We are using the plugin.route decorator on the index function. This binds a url path of ‘/’ to the index function. (‘/’ is the default URL path).

    Note: The url rule of ‘/’ must always exist in a plugin. This is the default route when a plugin is first run.

  3. The index function creates a single dict with some key/vals. This is how you create a listitem using xbmcswift2. At a minimum, most items have a path and label. The is_playable flag tells XBMC that this is a media item, and not a URL which points back to an addon.

  4. We return a list from the index function, that contains a single item. For a typical xbmcswift2 view, this is the proper way to add list items.

  5. We call plugin.run() to run our plugin. It is imperative that this line is inside the __name__ guard. If it is not, your addon won’t run correctly on the command line.

Running Addons from the Command Line

One of the shining points of xbmcswift2 is the ability to run plugins from the command line. To do so, ensure your working directory is the root of your addon folder (where you addon.xml file is located) and execute xbmcswift2 run.:

$ xbmcswift2 run
2012-05-02 19:02:37,785 - DEBUG - [xbmcswift2] Adding url rule "/" named "index" pointing to function "index"
2012-05-02 19:02:37,798 - DEBUG - [xbmcswift2] Dispatching / to once
2012-05-02 19:02:37,798 - INFO - [xbmcswift2] Request for "/" matches rule for function "index"
 #  Label       Path
[0] Hello XBMC! (None)

Right away we can see the output of our plugin. When running in the CLI, xbmcswift2 prints log messages to STDERR, so you can hide them by appending 2>/dev/null to the previous command.. Below the logs we can see a simple display of our listitems, in this case a single item.

See Running xbmcswift2 on the Command Line for a more detailed explanation of running on the command line.

URL Routing

Another advantage of using xbmcswift2, is its clean URL routing code. This means you don’t have to write your own code to parse the URL provided by XBMC and route it to a specific function. xbmcswift2 uses a a path passed to the route() decorator to bind a URL to a function. For example, a route of /videos/ will result in a URL of plugin://plugin.video.helloxbmc/videos/ calling the decorated function.

It’s even possible to pass variables to functions from the URLs. You might have a function like this to list videos for a given category:

def show_videos(category):
    '''Display videos for the provided category'''
    # An incoming URL of /categories/science/ would call this function and
    # category would have a value of 'science'.
    items = get_video_items(category)
    return plugin.finish(items)

Currently, there is no type coercion, so all variables plucked from URLs will be strings.

Now we have a way of directing incoming URLs to specific views. But how do we link list items to other views in our code? We’ll modify our Hello XBMC addon:

def index():
    items = [
        {'label': 'Hola XBMC!', 'path': plugin.url_for('show_label', label='spanish')},
        {'label': 'Bonjour XBMC!', 'path': plugin.url_for('show_label', label='french')},
    return items

def show_label(label):
    # Normally we would use label to parse a specific web page, in this case we are just
    # using it for a new list item label to show how URL parsing works.
    items = [
        {'label': label},
    return items

Let’s run our plugin interactively now to explore:

$ xbmcswift2 run interactive
2012-05-02 19:14:53,792 - DEBUG - [xbmcswift2] Adding url rule "/" named "index" pointing to function "index"
2012-05-02 19:14:53,792 - DEBUG - [xbmcswift2] Adding url rule "/labels/<label>/" named "show_label" pointing to function "show_label"
2012-05-02 19:14:53,793 - DEBUG - [xbmcswift2] Dispatching / to interactive
2012-05-02 19:14:53,794 - INFO - [xbmcswift2] Request for "/" matches rule for function "index"
 #  Label         Path
[0] Hola XBMC!    (plugin://plugin.video.helloxbmc/labels/spanish/)
[1] Bonjour XBMC! (plugin://plugin.video.helloxbmc/labels/french/)
Choose an item or "q" to quit: 0

2012-05-02 19:14:59,854 - INFO - [xbmcswift2] Request for "/labels/spanish/" matches rule for function "show_label"
#  Label   Path
[0] ..      (plugin://plugin.video.helloxbmc/)
[1] spanish (None)
Choose an item or "q" to quit: q

$ python addon.py interactive
[0] Hola XBMC! (plugin://plugin.video.helloxbmc/labels/spanish/)
[1] Bonjour XBMC! (plugin://plugin.video.helloxbmc/labels/french/)
Choose an item or "q" to quit: 0
[0] spanish (None)

We’ve introduced a few new topics here.

  • We passed interactive as a positional argument to the xbmcswift2 run command. This enables us to interact with the list items rather than just print them once and exit.
  • We’ve used url_for() to create a url pointing to a different view function. This is how view functions create list items that link to other functions.
  • Our function show_label requires an argument ‘label’, so we pass a keyword argument with the same name to url_for.
  • To set the url for a list item, we set the ‘path’ keyword in the item dictionary.
  • xbmcswift2 display a list item of ‘..’, which is simliar to XBMC’s ‘..’ list item. This enables you to go back to the parent directory.

To learn more about URL routing and other available options, check out the <API> or the <patterns page>.

Playing Media

The last thing we haven’t covered is how to play an actual video. By default, all items returned are directory items. This means that they act as a directory for more list items, and its URL points back into the plugin. To differentiate playable media from directory items, we set is_playable to True in our item dictionary.

First, let’s add a new view to play some media:

def show_videos():
    items = [
        {'label': 'Calculus: Derivatives 1',
         'path': 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/KA-youtube-converted/ANyVpMS3HL4.mp4/ANyVpMS3HL4.mp4',
         'is_playable': True,
    return plugin.finish(items)

As you can see, the URL value for path is a direct link to a video asset, we are not calling url_for. If you need to use XBMC’s setResolveUrl functionality, see the patterns section for plugin.set_resolved_url.

Now let’s update out item dictionary in show_label to add a path:

{'label': label, 'path': plugin.url_for('show_videos')},

Now, you have a fully functioning XBMC addon, complete with nested menus and playable media.

One more section before going off on your own!

Using xbmc, xbmcgui, xbmcaddon

You can always import and call any of the xbmc modules directly if you need advanced functionality that xbmcswift2 doesn’t support. However, if you still want the ability to run plugins from the command line you should import the xbmc modules from xbmcswift2.

from xbmcswift2 import xbmc, xbmcgui

Since these modules are written in C, they are only available when running XBMC. To enable plugins to run on the command line, xbmcswift2 has mock versions of these modules.

Going further

This should be enough to get started with your first simple XBMC addon. If you’d like more information, please check out the detailed Tutorial and also review common Patterns.