Developers, meet VLC Android, a mobile version of VLC, the great desktop open-source media player.
VLC Android is relatively new, and, just like any new friend, it’s worth taking the time to get to know it. These four tips will help you get started developing with VLC Android.
1. Dude, where’s my passport?
It’s no secret that VLC Android Beta isn’t yet available for U.S. or Canadian users, even though it’s on Google Play. You can access the software via nightly builds from the VideoLAN project website, or by setting your VPN to look like you’re working in another country.
2. Super-size me: file management issues
File management is a work-in-progress for VLC Android, so resulting apps may be plus-size. Since Google Play only allows apps that are 50 MB or less, file-size issues can be a problem. To remedy this, use either a main or patch expansion file (each up to 2 GB). The main file serves your app’s main resources needs; the patch is designed for small updates. Locate expansion files here:
<shared-storage> is the path to the shared storage space, available from getExternalStorageDirectory().
<package-name> is your application’s Java-style package name, available from getPackageName().
You can also disable many of the contrib modules that you don’t intend to use. This reduces the amount of statically linked libs and could drastically reduce your file size. Not seeing the results? Don’t forget to cleanly rebuild your tree after the changes by using the following code:
3. The inevitable crash
Of course, your app-in-development will crash at times. If VLC Android crashes, look for a vlc_logcat_<date and some numbers>.log file in your SD card’s root and retrieve it using your phone file transfer or an open-source file browser like OI File Manager. If no vlc_logcat_<...>.log file appears, the crash is likely native and requires a different kind of fix.
Check the VideoLAN development wiki for advice.
Other issues with VLC crashes can be resolved by checking in with the very active VLC Forum. For example, if your VLC crashes when streaming from a computer to Android, you can fix the problem easily. Go to VLC Directà menuàsettingsàstreaming settings, and check “Avoid Audio Transcoding.”
4. Handle with care: security vulnerabilities
The nonprofit-generated, open-source VLC freely admits its flaws. On the nightly build site, you’ll find the disclaimer that “issues that existed in previous versions of VLC might be fixed here, but since this version of VLC is not yet finished, you should expect other problems and issues.” The VLC Forum is the place to go to see if problems that have plagued you have been answered.
One such issue, use-after-free vulnerabilities (attributed to the underlying FFmpeg library to which VLC statically links), may still exist in VLC. Security firm Secunia Research considers that the vulnerabilities still exist; VLC contends that the patches provided have resolved them.
In short, VLC Android is a work in progress, but the opportunities for development are great.
Want to know what a VLC Android developer makes in your area? Check out our salary calculator.