ViihdeHelper v4.0 released

A new version of the Elisa Viihde Chrome extension has been released! The implementation had to be entirely redone due to the changes to the service that happened in the middle of January. What is new in this version is that you need to configure the extension by entering your Elisa Viihde username and password. The information is needed in order to retrieve the downloadable stream. Open in VLC and download recording should work as normal. Please let me know if there are any glitches.

Screenshot 2016-01-20 00.16.39

Head to the Elisa Viihde page to download the newest version and see the updated instructions.

Background information

It appears that on around January 15th, Elisa once again changed how the recordings are served out. Instead of serving out an mpeg2 ts-stream they send out some kind of DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP). What this means in theory is that a more modern approach to streaming video has been put in place. This approach allows the video player to choose the best possible quality for the bandwidth available. The video is split into approximately 10 second chunks, and for each chunk, the optimal bitrate is chosen.

In practice however, the experience (at least for now) is actually worse. Yes, it works directly in the browser (Chrome), but the sound is awful. The subtitle tracks are gone, so you only have subtitles for recordings that have them “burned” into the video. Using the old version of my extension you can actually play it in VLC, and it seems that the sound is better. However, every 10 seconds or so, there is a small glitch plus a possible resolution change when the next chunk starts to play. The downloading of recordings with the old extension is entirely broken, since the URL points to the manifest for the segmented stream. The manifest is an XML file describing the video and audio stream + the segments and offsets.

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Elisa Viihde updated once again

It appears that on around January 15th, Elisa once again changed how the recordings are served out. Instead of serving out an mpeg2 ts-stream they send out some kind of DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP). What this means in theory is that a more modern approach to streaming video has been put in place. This approach allows the player to choose the best possible quality for the bandwidth available. The video is split into approximately 10 second chunks, and for each chunk, the optimal bitrate is chosen. 

In practice however, the experience (at least for now) is actually worse. Yes, it works directly in the browser (Chrome), but the sound is awful. Using my extension you can actually play it in VLC, and it seems that the sound is better. However, every 10 seconds or so, there is a small glitch plus a possible resolution change when the next chunk starts to play. 

The downloading of recordings is entirely broken, since the URL points to the manifest for the segmented stream. The manifest describes the video and audio stream + the segments and offsets, so in theory at least it could be possible to write a downloader that fetches the stream’s segments separately, concatenating them, and then joining the audio and video together. This, however is not something that is done easily, nor quickly. 

I’ll continue researching things a bit, but I’m afraid that the last “improvement” has made the experience for browser users quite a bit worse. The iPad and iPhone apps seem to be working as before. 

ViihdeVLCLauncher for Linux

I tried to whip up a VLC Launcher for Linux too. This is tested on Ubuntu 14.04 and seems to work great.

What you need is to have VLC and Chromium installed. After that you install the extension to Chromium as outlined in the instructions on the Elisa Viihde page. The final step is to install the launcher. You download the ViihdeVLCLauncher_linux.tar.gz file from my Viihde page, extract it by doing tar xvzf ViihdeVLCLauncher_linux.tar.gz in the terminal, and then run the install.sh script.

The script adds a handler for viihde-links, and copies a small script into /usr/local/bin that launches VLC with the appropriate recording. Please test it out if you’re running a version of Linux, and let me know how it works out for you. If it doesn’t work, you probably have enough skilz to modify the scripts and see if you can get it to work yourself 😉

Elisa Viihde page created

The number of posts I have done on the subject of Elisa Viihde, Chrome, and VLC has grown, and it was becoming a hassle to update the old posts to link to the newest information, so I decided to create a separate page that will always hold the newest version of my extension and up-to-date installation instructions. So please, read https://asmand.wordpress.com/elisa-viihde/ for the newest instructions.

Elisa Viihde, Chrome and VLC

Update 2015-09-19. The number of posts I have done on the subject of Elisa Viihde, Chrome, and VLC has grown, and it was becoming a hassle to update the old posts to link to the newest information, so I decided to create a separate page that will always hold the newest version of my extension and up-to-date installation instructions.

Introduction

The latest version of Chrome finally removed the support for NPAPI plugins. This means that the VLC plugin used to watch Elisa Viihde recordings in the browser is no longer supported.  NPAPI, or Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface, was introduced already back in 1995, and had really run its course and was causing problems and code complexity in modern browsers. Unfortunately, that means that a lot of functionality that we are used to has stopped working. This post shows how Chrome and the VLC client still can be used to watch Elisa Viihde recordings.

The solution consists of two parts, first a Chrome extension that shows a “Watch in VLC” and a “Download recording” icon in the listing of recordings, and in the recording details page. viihde_3_screenshot_listviihde_3_screenshot_program

The other part is a platform-specific VLC launcher that instructs VLC to play the selected recording. On OS X, no configuration of the launcher is needed, but on Windows you need to point the launcher to the location of the VLC executable.viihde_launcher_configuration

Chrome extension installation

  1. Download the extension here: ViihdeHelper3.1.zip newest version on my Elisa Viihde page
  2. Unzip the file
  3. Go to chrome://extensions in a new tab
  4. Enable Developer mode chrome_developer
  5. Choose Load unpacked extension… and select the folder you unzipped in step 2. chrome_load_extension
  6. The ViihdeHelper extension should now be listed in the extensions view
  7. If you now log in to your Elisa Viihde account in Chrome and go to recordings, you should see icons as in the screenshots earlier in this post.

The Download recording link should now be working, but in order to watch the recordings, you need to install a VLC launcher appropriate for your system.

VLC Launcher for OS X

  1. Download the launcher here: ViihdeVLCLauncher.dmg
  2. Copy the ViihdeVLCLauncher.app contained in the .dmg to your /Applications folder
  3. If you now click on the VLC icon in your recordings list, you should see something like the following:launcher_os_x
  4. Check the Remember my choice box and click on Launch Application
  5. After this, a second warning comes up asking whether you want to open the ViihdeVLCLauncher. Click Open.
  6. Now VLC should launch with your chosen recording. If it doesn’t, it might be that the request timed out if it took too long to check the boxes and click the buttons. Just try again.
  7. Enjoy!

VLC Launcher for Windows

  1. Download the launcher installer here: ViihdeVLCLauncher_Setup.zip
  2. Unzip and Run the installer
  3. After installation completes, make sure to run the application to configure the VLC pathviihde_launcher_install_winviihde_launcher_configuration
  4. After selecting the VLC path, click Save and Close
  5. If you now click on the VLC icon in your recordings list, you should see something like the following:viihde_launcher_win
  6. Check the Remember my choice box and click on Launch Application
  7. Now VLC should launch with your chosen recording. If it doesn’t, it might be that the request timed out if it took too long to check the boxes and click the buttons. Just try again.
  8. Enjoy!

Final words

Please try it out and let me now how it works out for you. It works for me, but I give no guarantees that it will work for you, and I don’t take any responsibility for any damages that may occur while trying it out.

The Mac version has existed for a long time, and is used daily, so there should be no problems with that. The Windows version has only been briefly tested on Windows 7 and Windows 10, so please let me know if there are any problems with other versions of Windows.