VLC is working on improving the discoverability and usefulness of its own add-ons feature in its 2.2.x series.
The open-source media player has supported extending functionality with plugins and extensions for a while, but too few users are aware of it, and even fewer developers are taking advantage of it.
In fact, until today I didn’t know that there was an entire sub-section of the VLC website dedicated to them!
Add-ons made accessible
The upcoming release of VLC 2.2, including the most recent development builds, introduces a new Add-Ons Manager dialog. In a similar vein to that which used to be included in Mozilla’s Firefox (before it took it in-browser) the window allows simple management of existing extensions, while also making browsing and installing new ones easier.
And by ‘easier’ I really do mean it.
At present, installing an add-on in VLC requires finding it, downloading it, extracting it and moving it into the relevant extensions folder of the app on your system. Then it has to be enabled.
In 2.2 it’s as simple as opening the dialog and hitting ‘install’. By getting the player to handle all of the hassle, users will be far more likely to make use of extensions, spurring on developers to create new ones.
It’s not the only change heading to the desktop app either, with a Qt5 port and native VDPAU hardware acceleration also planned to arrive in the 2.2.x series release.
Install VLC 2.2.x in Ubuntu
Want to go hands on? You’ll need two things: awareness that these are development builds, and the VLC daily PPA added to your system software sources.
Again, these are development builds and are not recommended for those who require a stable, bug-free media experience.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:videolan/master-daily
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install vlc
Once installation/upgrading has completed you will need to open VLC, navigate to the Tools > Plugins section and switch to the ‘Add–ons Manager‘ tab. Uncheck the ‘only installed’ box and you’re good to go.
You can use the search box to find new add-ons and themes, or navigate using the categories listed in the sidebar. Clicking on an extension will show you more information, along with the option to install it.
The selection is sparse right now, but if it stokes enough interest expect to see some interesting and innovative functionality to follow.