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An implementation of TiVo's HME (Home Media Extensions) protocol for Python.
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HME for Python, v0.19
by William McBrine <>
December 24, 2010

An implementation of TiVo's HME (Home Media Extensions) protocol for 
Python, as a module (, a simple server (, and examples 
(mostly ported from TiVo's Java HME SDK). Everything is released under 
the LGPL 2.1+, except where noted. (Most of the examples are Common 
Public License.)

I developed this in Python 2.6.5, and tested it in Linux, Mac OS X, and 
Windows XP, and with Python 2.3 through 2.6. (I've also tested a Python 
3.x version, but it's not quite ready for release.) The requirements are 
minimal. ( depends only on the string, struct and time modules. is a bit more demanding, but uses only the standard library.)

Quick Start

In Linux, Mac OS X, etc.:


In Windows:


This will serve the example apps. The default port is 9042 (not TiVo's 
7288). To see more options, run "./ --help".

Quick Stop

In Linux, Mac OS X, etc., Ctrl-C does an orderly shutdown, un-announcing 
the apps before closing.

In Windows, you're stuck with either Ctrl-Break, or closing the command 
window, neither of which does an orderly shutdown.


You can optionally create a file named "config.ini" to specify the same 
kind of options as on the command line. The contents also become part of 
the context passed on to each app, so apps can store their own 
preferences there. See the picture viewer for an example -- it now 
checks the config for optional root path, delay and extension list 
options. (You'll almost certainly want to change the path.)

Here's an example config.ini, showing all the possible keywords for the 
server and the picture app. (The values shown here are purely for 
illustrative purposes.)

apps=picture clock

exts=.jpg .png

Direct Text Input

TiVo has extended HME to allow direct input of ASCII text via key 
events, instead of requiring the "Ouija board" input method. This is 
intended primarily for use with the Slide remote, but it also works with 
other USB keyboards, as well as the network remote control interface. 
TiVo has not documented it publicly, so I'll describe it here.

There are two types of direct text key events. The first type returns a 
key code of KEY_UNKNOWN (0), with the value of the key encoded in the 
rawcode. (To convert this rawcode to ASCII, you can use HME for Python's 
new top-level function qwerty_map().) This type of event is used for 
KEY_PRESS events generated by the IRCODE command from the network 
interface, and is used for all KEY_RELEASE events. Case is not 
distinguished (HME for Python decodes the values as uppercase), and for 
symbolic values that appear on the upper half of a key, the value on the 
lower half is reported.

The second type of direct text key event returns the ASCII code, plus 
0x10000, as the key code. Case is preserved, and symbols are reported 
exactly. This type of event is used for KEY_PRESS events generated by 
USB keyboards, as well as by the KEYBOARD command from the network 
interface, which currently works only on the Premiere. This second type 
of event is only returned if the HME app reports that it implements 
version 0.49 of the HME protocol or later; otherwise, the TiVo drops 
these events, while still reporting events of the first type. (This 
means that a pre-0.49 app will receive only KEY_RELEASE events for most 
keys on a USB keyboard.)

After going back and forth on this, I decided to pass the codes for both 
event types through unchanged, so that the app could handle them as 
needed. (In my own Reversi, for events of the second type, the existing 
case is respected, while it's adjusted automatically for events of the 
first type.)

More Info

The main documentation is in the hme module itself, as docstrings. (Open 
a Python shell; "import hme"; "help(hme)".) And be sure to look over the 
example apps.

You may also want to consult the HME Protocol Specification, from TiVo's 
Java SDK. And the rest of the documentation from that package may be 
helpful in a general way, but it can also be misleading, because (apart 
from the example apps) this is NOT a port of the Java SDK; it's based on 
the protocol spec.


0.19  -- HME for Python now reports itself as implementing version 0.49
         of the HME protocol. This version has not been publicly
         documented by TiVo, but the change is necessary in order to
         properly support direct text input (including from the Slide
         remote). In addition to the new keyboard handling (see above),
         there's an added parameter for stream creation: a dict called
         "params". None of its possible values are known.

         New top-level function, qwerty_map(), to convert the rawcode
         from an IRCODE-style keyboard event to its ASCII equivalent.

         More key names reported by the test app, with keyboard text
         reported from either kind of input.

         Initialize MIMETYPES from mimetypes.types_map -- allows HME/VLC
         to continue using it.

         Flush after a change in stream speed -- gets sounds to play
         immediately, even when not immediately followed by an event

0.18  -- More automatic removal of some resources when they go out of
         scope: nameless Image, TTF (named ones are cached, and may
         be duplicate references to the same TiVo-side resource --
         should probably rework this), Text and Stream resources. (Other
         resources are still cached.) As part of these changes,
         app.resources has been removed.

         "Test" app: Add KEY_OPT_A, B, C, and D button names; for key
         codes that aren't in the list of names, print the number.

         Stupid bug: extra colon in Content-Length header. Revealed by
         the new HD UI on the TiVo Premiere.

         Use the mimetypes module instead of hardwiring quite so many
         MIME types in

         Various minor fixes for Zeroconf (mainly cosmetic).

         Icons resaved as RGB for the sake of the new UI on the 
         Premiere, which can't handle indexed or greyscale PNGs.

0.17  -- Set up a 64K output buffer before initializing. This will cut
         down on the number of packets sent, as well as forestalling any
         potential "#3-5-6"-style errors, as in pyTivo (though I haven't
         observed those in HME). But it also means that you have to
         flush the output to be sure all commands are sent. The buffer
         is flushed automatically when waiting for events; the only time
         this is an issue is when sleep()ing instead of returning from
         the event handler. To deal with this, I've added a sleep()
         method to the Application class; just use it in place of
         time.sleep(). All it does is flush the output, then sleep. You
         could also do this manually. The example programs have been
         modified to use the new method.

         When unpacking an HME dict, if a list contains only a single
         item, take it out of list form. This makes it more symmetrical
         with what was done for packing in 0.8, although if any actual
         one-item lists were packed, the list will be lost in that case,

         Added MIME types for .tivo files, and some other video types.

         When the address isn't specified, to find it, skip
         gethostbyname(), and just use the default route method; use
         port 123 instead of 0 (the Mac doesn't like 0).

         Supress's useless "NonLocalNameException".

0.16  -- Support for alpha values in colors -- apparently this was fixed
         in TiVo software 9.3. (?) Reported by TCF user "Allanon". The
         way this works is, wherever you previously could specify a
         color number in RGB form, you can now do it as ARGB, where "A"
         (alpha), the most significant byte, represents the opacity --
         _except_ that an alpha value of 0 is treated as full opacity
         (equivalent to 0xff), for the sake of simplicity and backwards
         compatibility. (So, if you don't want to mess with alpha 
         values, you can continue using plain RGB values.) Otherwise, 
         the higher the number, the more opaque.

         Removed the note about limits on the size of color resources --
         fixed in 9.4 (or earlier?). A color assigned to an HD view will
         now fill the whole view.

         hmeserver ( now responds to requests for robots.txt,
         with no permission. (No good can come of trying to crawl an HME

         Taiwanese TiVos append "?width=704&height=480" to their app
         requests. Previously, this would make hmeserver send back a
         403. Now, it ignores these parameters, so the app will work.
         (And perhaps in the future, hmeserver will actually support
         this undocumented feature of TiVo's SDK.)

         Added MIME type for WMV video.

         Minor changes to demo apps: made a few bits more Pythonic, and
         fixed some erroneous spacing that was only apparent with Python

         Minor changes to the Zeroconf module: untabbed, and removed the
         deprecated has_key().

0.15  -- Added clear_resource() and remove_resource() methods for Views.
         clear_resource() disassociates the View from its resource,
         without removing the resource. remove_resource() is kind of
         trivial -- equivalent to "resource.remove(); resource = None" --
         but is included for completeness.

         Optional config file parsing for hmeserver -- see above.

         Moved check for application class from Handler to startup.

         Slightly more robust path handling for hmeserver -- works
         better in Windows, and the disallowed-directory check is less

         Renamed to But note that it's still
         "hmeserver" for purposes of config.ini.

         Support for Python < 2.3 is dropped.

0.14  -- hmeserver now separates the app and data roots, to allow
         keeping icons etc. together with their apps, while having data
         elsewhere. The new command-line option "--datapath" specifies
         the data root, while "--basepath" still sets the app root.
         Files outside of app directories (including those in the app
         root, which had previously been allowed) are now forbidden
         unless the datapath is set.

         The initial transparency of a View can now be set via the
         "transparency" keyword parameter when creating it, instead of
         being settable only by a call to set_transparency().

0.13  -- Added a new method for specifying sounds, by name. (The old
         method, by number, will also still work.) The symbolic names
         were a bit cumbersome, but I didn't feel that I could shorten
         them... hence, this. It's similar to how it works in the Java
         SDK, but without the fake ".snd" extension. See examples.

         Added a "speed" attribute for to the Resource class -- only
         meaningful for Streams.

         In hmeserver, send size information with regular files where
         available; catch and report socket errors on sending regular
         files; use log_error() and log_message() instead of print where

         Added MIME types for video, since it can now be Streamed.

         Added port number to logged address, for help in debugging.

         Startup banner for hmeserver; "help" and "version" options.

         Removed "sorted()" for compatibility with older versions of
         Python (or Jython).

         Some new command-line options for hmeserver, to set host, port,
         path, and/or zeroconf off, and to allow specific modules to be 
         named. (See "./ --help".)

         The HME server classes now depend only on the values passed
         to __init__(), not the globals. In principle, you can import
         hmeserver and use the classes from another program.

         Skip Zeroconf functions if the module is missing.

0.12  -- Barred effects and animate from all non-S3/HD TiVos running 9.1
         or 9.3. This may be overbroad, but I can't confirm that any
         S2's can handle these apps with 9.x.

         Made some things "private", so they won't be imported by "from
         hme import *".

         Added ".pyo" to the list of file types not to send.

         In the picture viewer, shuffle the pictures instead of sorting
         them; also, check not only for a valid directory, but for one
         containing pictures.

         Miscellaneous internal reworking and simplification.

         Tested under more versions.

         Typo: had "LPGL" instead of "LGPL".

0.11  -- Added a simple slideshow Picture Viewer to the included apps.
         It depends on the Python Imaging Library, and you'll have to
         edit picture/ to set ROOT to an appropriate
         directory. The app automatically uses hi-def mode when

         Changed the Animation class (and all the "animtime" parameters
         of various functions) to take seconds instead of milliseconds,
         to make it more consistent with general Python usage.

         Small tweak to the put_chunked() function.

0.10  -- Sending data larger than 64K was broken since 0.3. Argh.

         Images without names are not cached, but Image.remove() was
         still trying to remove them from the cache.

0.9   -- Added a separate set_resolution() function.

         Changing the resolution with an already-visible root view
         (which is always the situation, since 0.2) requires a
         set_bounds() call on the root view.

0.8   -- The dict items for transition() no longer have to be in list 
         form, although they still _can_ be. (The values returned to
         handle_init_info() are still lists, though.)

         Simplified the transition demo and added an icon for it.

         Print the skipped directories in hmeserver, along with the
         reasons they were skipped.

0.7   -- Added support for app transitions -- the last unimplemented
         part of the HME specification. (But I still have more to do to
         match the Java SDK.) This also entailed support for the HME
         "dict" type, which although mentioned in the specification is
         not documented. A sample app is included.

0.6   -- Added set_focus() to use when changing focus, instead of
         setting self.focus directly. Define a handle_focus() method for
         an object if you want it to do something special on a focus
         change; handle_focus() should take a single boolean parameter,
         which will be False when losing focus and True when gaining it.

         Shorter form for sound calls -- because in practice, they're
         always ID-based.

         Exit (event loop) on receiving an EVT_APP_INFO of active=false.

         Flush the sent handshake; exit mainloop() if no valid handshake
         is received.

0.5   -- Focus support -- set self.focus to the object you want to 
         handle events. It need not be a View; it can be any object.
         Just add the appropriate handler as an attribute. If a handler
         isn't present in the self.focus object, the app's handler is
         used. But if you want to pass events on from the object's
         handler, you'll have to call the app's handler explicitly.

         Default key repeat event behavior is now to call the key press

         Unspecified width and height in a child window need to default
         to that of the parent window _minus_ the position.

0.4   -- Narrow the list of exceptions handled when importing -- this
         covers non-module directories without masking real errors.

         One more event handler -- handle_active(). This can be used
         where startup() used to be, i.e., after the startup events.

0.3   -- Absorb all exceptions during reading or writing, allowing
         orderly shutdown even if the socket is abrubtly cut off; also,
         the use of the term "chunk" was not appropriate -- it should be
         reserved for the components of the chunked stream.

         Removed self.app_info and self.device_info; added
         handle_app_info() and handle_device_info(). With the new
         structure (startup(), activate, then start handling events),
         something like this is necessary.

         Prevent animate and effects from being run on the broken 9.1
         software (the others seem OK); print more info about events in
         the test app.

0.2   -- Moved root view activation to after startup(), but before event
         handling; flush output before checking for input; flush input
         after close. This should bring it a little closer to the Java
         SDK's behavior, and makes it work under TiVo software 7.2.

         hmeserver now prints app names as they're published/unregistered.

0.1.3 -- Skip reverse lookup in hmeserver (thanks armooo).

         Include the app name in the Starting/Stopping HME line.

0.1.2 -- The mechanism for skipping non-app directories was broken.

0.1.1 -- Changed default port.
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