Orange TV

From Orange TV creation in a small team to roadmap, budget and communication in the Program Management office.

Hired as a consultant to develop the new TV solution called Ma Ligne TV (My TV online), I was able to discover from inside the creation of a new TV provider in France.

From one thing to another, from Java developer to team leader, manager of the training program for the software designers or program manager to define project budget, helping the project leaders to meet their goals or creating the new Request For Change workflow, objectives were diversified and skills also were.

The deparment I was in went from 25 to 700 people between my arrival and departure.

Two coders: we were only two when it started in the small office near Paris. Each one with an old computer, and a table in a corner of the room, with a small TV screen and a black box linked to it.

Here you go, you can watch TPS* with it, you got the remote, we want the same on our set top box in two weeks. *(Television Par Satellite, french satellite television provider, bought by Canal+ group since)

Ok, so we have to code an HTML 1.0 user interface to watch TV, navigate through an electronic program guide, a channel information banner for the current and following program and everything that you would expect from a set top box (STB) interface.

The hardest thing at first was the computer, it took 10 minutes to launch a basic web server which was generating pages each time there were modification, required to test the interface on the embedded browser as we did not have full specs nor emulator for it.

Then, pretty fast, we learned that the embedded browser and the STB (and the others ones after, up to 8 different available STB) were the main bottleneck: very low end of course, old standards (CSS 1.0 partially supported) but mainly no way to know what is going on inside, so what issue breaks the system. The only way to understand was to include logs (text written from the web page themselves, using javascript 1.0) that you can read by connecting the STB to the serial port of the computer (yes, the serial port, that thing that vanished in favor of the USB, something like two millenniums ago ?!).

Well, one month later, we had a prototype working. And it worked pretty well, very well indeed (of course, with a system design that cost 12 times less than the previous one and an user interface working 10 times faster, not bad). So well that after the demo done to the head department, this new interface was not anymore the backup for the main one, but the unique solution that has to go into production as soon as possible!

9 months later (hum..), this new interface makes its arrival in our beloved french home. I was not thinking of it at the time, but when I look backward, thinking that my code was delivered in millions of home makes me feel good, even if there is no credit like there are in video games.

International

Using a simple web interface closed to the competitor at first, Orange TV evolved and became international: UK (where the brand Orange comes from), Spain, Poland, handled a lot of different STB, browsers and languages.

During all those years, from 2004 to 2012, I could participate to numerous trips to benchmark new embedded browsers like Opera, showcased on a Wii in Oslo, or to manage technical meetings with developers, in a word, contribute to the evolution of the TV interface world.

FredericRP Written by:

I create video games, started as an amateur, then created my own studio Equilibre Games and the Brand Your Game product.

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