About The Better and Roku

The Better is a solution, developed by the Better Software Group, for presenting audiovisual content (OTT and IPTV) on smart TVs, mobile devices, websites, and many other platforms in a single and multitenant model. It is an end-to-end solution that offers high-quality features such as analytics, content monetization, CMS, live and VOD streaming, video player, and white label apps for different screens.
The solution has a set of tools with which it is possible to create, design, and introduce changes in the appearance of applications on various platforms without the need to change the application code. Thanks to this, you do not need to re-publish the application on stores, web servers, or take other actions.

Roku is a leading US-based manufacturer of hardware digital media players and smart TVs. It’s also a fast-growing streaming platform that is already very popular in the USA. It is set to roll out its technology and services to the European market. Roku’s devices offer simple access to streaming content from services such as Netflix, Apple TV, Disney Plus, and Prime Video. Its users can choose from more than 150,000 movies and episodes.

Project Goal

The main goal of this project was to expand The Better availability for another platform, which is set-top box Roku. Until then, users could use The Better on Apple TV, Android TV, Tizen, or web browsers. Convenience and the ability to choose a platform tailored to the needs of customers are priorities at BSG, so we were excited to learn how to develop an app on Roku platform from scratch.

On the other side, Roku is getting more and more popular in Europe, so it was a great opportunity to stand ahead of the competition and expand the skill range of our developers.

Roles in project

Better Software Group – Built from scratch an application on Roku and provided an end-to-end solution. From app architecture, through design, communication between components, testing phase, to the official certification from Roku company.

General problem

In the past, our experts from Better Software Group made a lot of applications on different platforms but developing The Better on Roku was our first experience with it. Furthermore, there are not many sources on the internet, where we could get knowledge from. We stayed in a close contact with the Roku team to execute the development accordingly to Roku’s guidelines.

Over time, as we started to get to know the platform better and we gained the experience by the trial-and-error method, our experts started to discover the pros and cons of Roku development.

The most challenging aspect turned out to be the design phase and implementation of graphics on the frontend. Roku does not support vector files and offers little scope for visual effects. We had to figure out a way to solve this problem and design special graphics just for the Roku platform.

Moreover, testing The Better on Roku was very challenging, because there is no emulator available and we needed to make the tests directly through the set-top box Roku on TV.

What we have learnt

  • We have gained skills and experience how to develop from scratch an app on the Roku platform.
  • We got to know a new programming language – BrightScript. It is a combination of Visual Basic and JavaScript, developed by Roku.
  • We have learned how to configure player, design graphics, and provide end-to-end solutions on Roku platform.
  • We gained more experience on how to test the application without an emulator

Solution

We have created a simple to use and an intuitive application that allows users to watch comfortably their favorite movies, videos, or live-streaming content. Yet, our partners who are currently familiar with other OTT environments have been given an opportunity to open a new revenue stream. The applications consist of a splash screen, menu, search engine, list grouping, favorites, and recently played listing. Technology-wise, the applications communicate with our API. The configuration of the content is possible thanks to a CMS – a backend content management platform, which is a part of The Better portfolio.

We are proud that we passed the entire Roku certification process, and from now on we’re the official Roku partner, among just a few other companies in our region.