Configuring tvtime for displaying XMLTV listings
XMLTV is an
excellent application for downloading episode guide information and
storing it in a standardized file format. As of tvtime version 0.9.10,
we support display of show title, sub-title, times and description on
the OSD. This document describes how to configure and run XMLTV for
use with tvtime.
1. Run XMLTV
XMLTV is a collection of scripts which download TV listings to a
local XML file. The scripts are named by location, for example,
tv_grab_na for North America, or tv_grab_de for
Germany. With the North American script, you first configure it for
your provider by running:
This runs an interactive setup to determine your cable provider.
Listings are then downloaded by running:
tv_grab_na | tv_sort > ~/listings.xml
This will grab the listings for the next week and store it in the
file listings.xml in your home directory. The
tv_grab_na command has many options to control its behavior.
tv_sort is a utility shipped with xmltv that will perform
sanity checks on the data, and add end times for many programs.
It will take some time to grab the listings, on Jeffrey's system, a
week of shows was over 4MB.
2. Tell tvtime where the listings are
Telling tvtime where to find the XMLTV listings is easy. Simply
This will write to the tvtime config file the location of your
downloaded listings file.
3. Manually configure channels
Each channel in an XMLTV file is given a unique identifier and a
list of names for that channel. tvtime maps XMLTV channels to
tvtime channels as follows:
- If the station entry in the stationlist.xml file contains
an xmltvid parameter, use that.
- Otherwise, search the channel list in the xmltv file for a channel
entry that matches the name of the current channel.
For example, the following is the entry for CNN in Billy's
XMLTV listings file:
And here is the default stationlist entry in tvtime:
<station name="18" active="1" position="18" band="US Cable"
channel="18" finetune="0" norm="NTSC"/>
In this stationlist entry, the name "18" matches the second display
name of in the XMLTV entry.
Unfortunately, many XMLTV sources do not contain enough information
to automatically perform this mapping. Here is the output on Jeffrey's
<channel id="4 KXAN">
<display-name>Channel 4 KXAN</display-name>
The display name "Channel 4 KXAN" does not match the default name
in tvtime, nor could it. To get around this, you can manually specify
an xmltvid parameter in the stationlist entry, as follows:
<station name="4" active="1" position="4" band="US Cable"
channel="4" finetune="0" norm="NTSC" xmltvid="4 KXAN"/>
The xmltvid="4 KXAN" matches the id="4 KXAN" in the
XMLTV <channel> tag, and this lets tvtime know which channel
information to use.
4. Configure xmltv to run weekly
It's easy to use cron to have your XMLTV listings
downloaded weekly. Since everyone forgets the syntax, here is an
example of a crontab entry:
0 2 * * 0 /usr/bin/tv_grab_na | /usr/bin/tv_sort > ~/listings.xml
This will download the listings every Sunday at 2am.
5. Bugs and suggestions
If you have any suggestions on how we can simplify or better
automate the setup process of using tvtime and XMLTV, please
send an email to
- Oct 13, 2003: Update example to use tv_sort.