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Building a Roku Channel – Part 1

Feel like creating your own channel on the roku video player? It’s not hard! You’ll just need a decent familiarity with editing text files and possibly some comfort with unix. Or discomfort, but as long as you know what I’m talking about, keep reading!

I’m personally very comfortable with Unix and Linux. I found the channel development rather easy, from the use of makefiles to the packaging to the publishing. The documentation from roku is well written, but I found that I had to read and then shuffle between the Developer Guide and Channel Packaging and Publishing Guide in order to modify an example and publish a channel.

For this example, we’re going to build a private channel. This simply means that the general public won’t be able to browse to your channel without a special code. However, remember that this special code for a private channel doesn’t mean the data on the channel is secure (that’s for another discussion).

Let’s start with the basic setup before trying to code or package anything.

1) Make sure that you’ve properly linked up your roku player. All you need to do is create an account on roku.com and enter in the code that’s displayed on your tv.

2) While you’re still logged in to the roku site, make sure to enroll for the Roku Software Developer’s Kit.

3) Here’s the video game style code to turn the “development settings page” ON with your roku player:
Home button 3x, Up 2x, Right, Left, Right, Left, Right

You’ll know right away from the display on your TV if you entered the code correctly!

4) Note the IP address of your roku box. You do this by going to “Roku Player Settings” -> “player info”.

5) Back at your computer, enter “http://your_roku_ip_addr” into a browser.
If you’ve followed all the steps so far, you should see a grey page with the text “Development Application Installer”.

6) Create the RSA keys required for packaging. Developer ID and passphrase.
KEEP THESE TWO PIECES OF INFORMATION HANDY! DO NOT LOSE! ;)
This is done by typing the following in your unix terminal:

telnet your_roku_ip_address 8080
>genkey

After you type in genkey, you’ll be presented with a password and a developer ID. Again, please copy these keys and keep them someplace secure. You’ll need them whenever you want to re-package your channel.

So now we’re set up for packaging and deploying your channel. But wait, what channel?

Now on to Part 2, how to slightly modify and customize an example to create your first channel.