OUseful.Info, the blog…

Trying to find useful things to do with emerging technologies in open education

Recent OU Programmes on the BBC, via iPlayer

As @liamgh will tell you, Coast is getting a quite a few airings at the moment on various BBC channels. And how does @liamgh know this? Because he’s following the open2 openuniversity twitter feed, which sends out alerts when an OU programme is about to be aired on a broadcast BBC channel.

(As well as the feed from the open2 twitter account, you can also find out what’s on from the OU/BBC schedule feed (http://open2.net/feeds/rss_schedule.xml), via the Open2.net schedule page; iCal feeds appear not to be available…)

So to make it easier for him to catch up on any episodes he missed, here’s a quick hack that mines the open2 twitter feed to create a “7 day catch up” site for broadcast OU TV programmes (the page also links through to several video playlists from the OU’s Youtube site).

The page actually displays links to programmes that are currently viewable on BBC iPlayer (either via a desktop web browser, or via a mobile browser – which means you can view this stuff on your iPhone ;-), and a short description of the programme, as pulled from the programme episode‘s web page on the BBC website. You’ll note that the original twitter feed just mentions the programme title; the TinyURLd link goes back to the series web page on the Open2 website.

Thinking about it, I could probably have done the hackery required to get iPlayer URLs from with in the page; but I didn’t… Given the clue that page is put together using a JQuery script I stole from this post on Parsing Yahoo Pipes JSON Feeds with jQuery, you can maybe guess where the glue logic for this site lives?;-)

There are three pipes involved in the hackery – the JSON that is pulled into the page comes from this OU Recent programmes (via BBC iPlayer) pipe.

THe first part grabs the feed, identifies the programme title, and then searches for that programme on the BBC iPlayer site.

The nested BBC Search Results scrape pipe searches the BBC programmes site and filters results that point to an actual iPlayer page (so we can we can watch the result on iPlayer).

Back in the main pipe, we take the list of recently tweeted OU programmes that are available on iPlayer, grab the programme ID (which is used as a key in all manner of BBC URLs :-), and then call another nested pipe that gets the programme description from the actual programme web page.

This second nested pipe just gets the programme description, creates a title and builds the iPlayer URL:

(The logic is all a bit hacked – and could be tidied up – but I was playing through my fingertips and didn’t feel like ‘rearchitecting’ the system once I knew what I wanted it to do… which it is what it does do…;-)

As an afterthought, the items in the main pipe are annotated with a link to the mobile iPlayer version of each programme:

So there you have it: a “7 day catch up” site for broadcast OU TV programmes, with replay via iPlayer or mobile iPlayer.

[18/11/08 - the site that the app runs on is down at the moment, as network security update is carried out; sorry about that - maybe I should use a cloud server?]

Written by Tony Hirst

November 8, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Posted in OBU, OU2.0, Pipework, Tinkering

12 Responses

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  1. Actually I see the many mentions of Coast via @OpenUniversity (http://twitter.com/OpenUniversity) rather than @open2! Anyway, that aside, one thing that does strike me about your solution is that if you styled it a bit (nice big fonts, blue background etc) and assigned the 0-9 keys to keys of the URLs, you would have something that would look really good on a set top box or media centre PC.

    Liam Green-Hughes

    November 9, 2008 at 10:52 am

  2. I got curious about importing using your feed for a media centre PC so imported it into MythTV! Wrote it up here: http://www.greenhughes.com/content/catch-ou-programming-mythtv

    Liam Green-Hughes

    November 9, 2008 at 6:57 pm

  3. [...] multiple failures but am I bovvered? Face? Bovvered? Somewhen last week, I posted about a Recent OU Programmes on the BBC, via iPlayer hack that uses an Open2 twitter feed to identify recently broadcast OU programmes on the BBC, to [...]

  4. [...] that is not obviously on the site is a schedule of OU/BBC programmes, or even an OU/BBC iPlayer channel? Maybe that’s because the placement of this site in comparison to the open2.net site is not [...]

  5. [...] for OU/BBC TV content? Maybe I should try to steal elements of the CSS stylesheet to tart up the OU/BBC 7 day catch-up service?! (Or maybe one of the podcast team fancy a quick doodle on the [...]

  6. [...] on Open2.net. (The closest I have at the moment is the OU/BBC iPlayer catch-up mashups here and here). Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)BBC and YouTube strike deal, Top Gear comes to [...]

  7. [...] on the BBC iPlayer). I developed a proof-of-concept demonstrator of how such a service might work on the web, or for the iPhone/iPod Touch (iPhone 7 Day OU Programme CatchUp, via BBC iPlayer), so under the [...]

  8. [...] I originally hoped to do was make use of an earlier hack that underpinned Recent OU Programmes on the BBC, via iPlayer (also available on iPhone: iPhone 7 Day OU Programme CatchUp, via BBC iPlayer). Unfortunately the [...]

  9. [...] TV Programmes on Boxee, I noticed that my “OU on the BBC 7 Day CatchUp” code used in Recent OU Programmes on the BBC, via iPlayer (also available on iPhone: iPhone 7 Day OU Programme CatchUp, via BBC iPlayer) had broken. Whilst [...]

  10. [...] I still can’t find an easy way of grabbing a list of OU/BBC programmes for a 7 day watch again service (which I have to admit, I haven’t maintained for over a year, so I’d be very surprised [...]

  11. [...] which reminds me – I wonder if my Recent OU Programmes on the BBC, via iPlayer hack, or the mobile/iPhone or Boxee versions still [...]

  12. [...] both television and radio. Some time ago, I posted a recipe for generating a page that showed current OU programmes on iPlayer (all rotted now…). Chatting to Liam last night, I started wondering about resurrecting this [...]


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