I was lucky enough to be included in a very small group of alpha testers for the upcoming meta 2.0 metadata manager – ‘lucky’ being an understatement as this application is going to astound you.
My initial look came around 2 months ago and it was pretty rough around the edges and had very little functionality. I saw this change dramatically over the following few weeks, up until today, where it is finally available in a state that I have been allowed to write about.
I want to start off by saying that this review is quite long. However, this review should also be considered a reference guide until documentation becomes available for meta 2.0. meta 2.0 is full of options and it can easily overwhelm anyone not completely familiar with it. Even during my testing fatal, the developer, made me aware of many overlooked features and settings.
The currently available version of meta has been primarily geared towards the Media Browser crowd since its inception. However, meta 2.0 breaks free and offers services for many different types of front-ends and media libraries. Its highly adaptable framework will also allow developers to create their own plugins to extend meta compatibility even further…the only limitation is you!
TV functionality is currently not included in meta 2.0, but it will be added soon. There are other small ‘conveniences’ that have also not been added, but rest assured, they will make it into the product over time.
Before we begin, there are three important points for proper installation and operation to observe:
- An Internet connection is required (application must be authenticated fopr use on every run).
- Systems using RAID were not supported in versions tested.
- There will be a required $20 per year donation in order to install and run meta 2.0 on two (2) systems (this payment model has not yet been finalized). Those that donated during the meta 1.0 release will be ‘grandfathered’ in and receive meta 2.0 at no cost for the first year.
Although incomplete, meta 2.0 already appeared to have a never-ending assortment of options and configuration possibilities…I intend to at least touch on each of these in this review.
After downloading and installing for the first time, you will find that upon first execution you are already met with the first change in the meta 2.0 application – the login prompt.
meta 2.0 must be authenticated upon each execution, hence the requirement for an active Internet connection.
Upon successful logon, the interface will load for the first time and while familiar to current version users, it won’t take long to see that it is a nicely revamped GUI.
The interface is fully customizable via drag-and-drop. Windows can be moved around and resized and even the numerous tabs can be placed wherever you wish. I will go into that in more detail a little later.
The first thing we all will want to do after loading for the first time is to head into Settings so that we can configure our Media Locations. For those of you who are already using meta 1.0, this will also look very familiar. Media Locations can be easily added, removed and even disabled by unchecking them. Media Locations can be local system directories or network shares (just make certain you have the necessary permissions to access them). A full range of additional settings are available below:
- Valid Video Extensions – Contains the extensions that meta 2.0 will recognize. Add or remove any from the default values here. Separate using semicolons.
- Filter Row Update Mode – When using the filter field below Media Collection, you can either have the filter perform the action When Value Changes (as you type) or When Enter Key Pressed (must hit Enter to submit filter).
- Dynamic Filtering – True will cause any changes to metadata to automatically obey a currently applied filter. False will require a filter to be re-applied to exhibit a change in metadata.
- Refresh media collection list on start – Will initiate a full refresh on all enabled Media Locations.
- Fetch metadata on first refresh - Requires the previous setting to be enabled. Will perform a metadata fetch upon application start and media collection refresh for newly detected items.
- Fetch metadata on every refresh – Will perform a full metadata fetch upon every manual media collection refresh.
- Real Time Monitoring (NTFS File Systems) – As it states, only applies to Windows NTFS file systems. Actively monitors local or shared NTFS directories for changes (added, modified or deleted files).
- Poll Media Locations (Samba Shares) – Alternative for non-Windows NTFS file systems using Samba sharing for media collections. Samba shared directories are periodically polled for changes (added, modified or deleted files)
- Fetch metadata when new media is detected – This setting requires either #4 or #5 be enabled to become active. When enabled, a metadata fetch will be performed on any new media detected on monitored directories.
Moving down in the settings menu, we have Value Lists. Value Lists give us the ability to define specific values for different types of static ‘lists’ that meta 2.0 is capable of maintaining. The values entered in the Value Lists items will be available as a drop-down list on your metadata entry screens. They can greatly ease the pain when manually entering metadata yourself. These lists are:
- MediaTypes - Self-explanatory list that can contain values like DVD, BluRay, XviD, MKV, etc.
- Genres - Pre-populated list with the most common (and typically acceptable) genres assignable to your media.
- AspectRatio - Use the included film aspect ratios and/or add your own custom values like 1.66:1.
- MovieStudios - Already a nicely populated selection of studios in this list, but feel free to extend it.
- MovieRatings - This list includes the standard US MPAA ratings, but can be extended to include ratings from any country.
Next in the menu is Mappings. Mappings can be extremely handy for changing retrieved values for other values. The example in the image below is one that actually allowed me to circumvent an early bug when fetching the PG-13 rating from IMDB. The Alpha version I was using at the time was populating the PG-13 MPAA rating with PG_13. Instead of manually editing this every time a movie was assigned a PG-13 rating, I set up a mapping that told meta 2.0 to change the Text value of PG_13 to PG-13. No more worries as meta 2.0 modified it for me…on the fly!
Mappings could also be used to clean up dirty tMDB genres, convert MPAA ratings to BBFC or any other number of possibilities. Instead of using a Text match, there is also an available Regex option that makes this an even more powerful tool. Additional matching options include Exact Match and/or Match Case. These options allow for very granular control over what gets modified without risking changing similar fetched values in your metadata.
The Regex example above applied to a fetch from Netflix would convert any parenthesized actors names to take a last name first pattern, instead of the default returned first name first. The images below show the difference between the default return and when the regex mapping is enabled.
Without the regex mapping applied…
…and with it.
Mappings can be added and removed easily, or completely disabled by simply unchecking the enable box. Just be careful if you plan to use it! It will change every instance of the mapping value you set.