Tiny Desk Concerts Roku app
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source Swap in new images. Use prod roku ad url. Apr 29, 2015
store_images Swap in new images. Use prod roku ad url. Apr 29, 2015
.gitignore Swap in new images. Use prod roku ad url. Apr 29, 2015
cron.sh Add deployment rig. Apr 3, 2013
crontab Only run cron every two hours. Apr 3, 2013
greatest_hits.txt New greatest hits list. Closes #150. May 2, 2014
install.sh Update scripts to support new Roku web auth. Apr 11, 2014
manifest Swap in new images. Use prod roku ad url. Apr 29, 2015
requirements.txt Add deployment rig. Apr 3, 2013
ship.sh Update scripts to support new Roku web auth. Apr 11, 2014
skip_list.txt Implement skip list. #155. Apr 21, 2014
uninstall.sh Update scripts to support new Roku web auth. Apr 11, 2014
update_feed.py missing descriptions might be the issue Mar 29, 2017


Copyright 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No part of these materials may be reproduced, modified, stored in a retrieval system, or retransmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, without prior written permission from NPR.

(Want to use this code? Send an email to nprapps@npr.org!)

Tiny Desk Concerts Roku app


Put your Roku into Dev Mode.

Your Roku will tell you its IP address and have you set a developer password. Set these in your .bash_profile:

export ROKU_IP=""
export ROKU_PASSWORD="mypassword"

Install the Python requirements:

$ mkvirtualenv roku-tinydesk
$ pip install requirements.txt

Generate JSON feed

This step is not necessary to run the app.

To regenerate the API feed you will need a superuser NPR API key and our AWS keys. Set the API key in your .bash_profile like so:


Install s3cmd and configure it with the nprapps AWS keys:

$ s3cmd --configure

To generate (and deploy) the Tiny Desk API feed:

$ workon roku-tinydesk
$ ./update_feed.py

Package & Deploy

To package up the code and deploy it to your Roku:

$ ./install.sh


Distribute the app

Note: If this process isn't completed with Chris' Roku keys, users of the app will lose their registry data. The way around this is to "rekey" each developer's Roku with the same RSA key. Read more here:


Note part 2: This is probably irrelevant anyway, because you would need Chris' Roku credentials to access the upload page. Ergo, these docs are really just for him.

Distributing the app to Roku requires jumping through additional hoops. First, you'll need to generate crypotgraphic keys on your Roku. Do this like so:

$ telnet $ROKU_IP 8080
> genkey

Your password will be print out: save it. Exit the telnet session by typing quit.

Add this new password to your ~/.bash_profile:


Now to generate a shippable zip, simply run:

$ ./ship.sh 1.0

You must supply a version number as the first argument.

Now take your new package and upload it at: https://owner.roku.com/Developer/Apps/Packages/23962


To connect to your Roku for debugging:

$ telnet $ROKU_IP 8085

Google Analytics

The following events are tracked in Google Analytics:

Category Action Label Value Custom 1 Custom 2
Tiny Desk Startup rokuModel rokuFirmware
Tiny Desk Shutdown sessionDuration numWatched numFinished
Tiny Desk Start title fromList searchTerm
Tiny Desk Continue title fromList searchTerm
Tiny Desk Finish title
Tiny Desk Stop title playtime stoppedAtPct
Tiny Desk Search term
Tiny Desk Feed Unavailable
Tiny Desk Completion percent


  • The Shutdown action isn't recorded until the next time the application is run, because there is no reliable shutdown event in a Roku app. As a result, sessionDuration will always be approximate.
  • The Stop action is reported alongside the Finish action when a video is completed, for purposes of tracking playtimes.
  • There is no concept of a ping in this event model, so users will appear inactive on the Google Analytics dashboard while in the middle of a long video or sitting on a menu. Their sessionDuration recorded in the Shutdown event will correctly include the this time.
  • The Feed Unavailable action occurs if the feed.json file can not be downloaded from S3 after several attempts. (Do to an error or poor connectivity.)
  • Completion added in April, 2015. Reported values are [25, 50, 75, 100].

Code conventions

Because Roku dev lacks strong (or any) code conventions, I'm defining my own.


  • Constants: UPPERCASE
  • Variables, public members and public functions: camelCase
  • Objects/Constructors: TitleCase
  • Public member functions: GridScreen.refreshLists = GridScreen_refreshLists
  • Private member functions GridScreen._initLists = _GridScreen_initLists
  • Private member vars: _underscorePrefixed
  • Keywords: lowercase, e.g. function and end function

All rules for function names also apply when calling case-insensitive built-in functions, e.g. createObject() and count().

Code organization

Leave a line of whitespace after function and before end function

Never use sub. Always use function.


In class constructors define the class object as this. In member functions redefine the class object as this = m. Never use m to refer to the global namespace.


Comments describing a functions purpose should precede the function defintion.

Modules should begin with a block comment explaning their purpose:

' Explainer goes here

function main()
    blah blah