What I like about developing for SmartTV

In a previous blog I wrote about the things I dislike about developing for SmartTV. However, I wouldn’t still be doing this job if I didn’t like parts of it too. So for this blog I wanted to look at the complete opposite of the other — what are the great parts about developing for SmartTV, what makes it likeable to work with?

Developing for SmartTV is… easy!

Bet you never expected reading that to start with, am I right? But I promise you, developing for SmartTV is, for the most part, actually fairly easy. Let’s start by making a comparison between the types of screens you would need to handle versus, say a typical web developer. So a SmartTV is rather dumb. There is really only a single size of screen that you need to handle, and that’s a typical 16x9 screen. Now, they come in different sizes (1280x720, 1920x1080, …), but the principle remains the same. You’ll only have to develop for a single size of screen, and with a single UI!

Now, depending on the technology you’re using, that has all sorts of added benefits. Especially when you’re working with CSS directly, developing for SmartTV actually comes with major benefits. No media queries required, no grid structures and no difficult use of flexboxes. All of the joys of having to deal with complicated CSS is basically out the door. You can even use actual pixel values, can you imagine?

But it’s also kind of challenging

You might not see this as a benefit, but I actually do. I love a good coding challenge, especially when no one has figured it out yet. Because by developing for SmartTV, you actually end up in territory that not many people have dealt with. There are no thousands of Stackoverflow pages that you can refer to for a quickfix. And honestly, that’s actually part of the joy, in my eyes. When there is a real challenge, you are the only one standing between the SmartTV and a working solution. It can be a real puzzle to figure out why an element isn’t rendering as expected on one specific TV-model. But really, that’s part of the fun! It forces you to think creatively, outside the box. It basically makes your day-job one of a puzzle solver, a puzzle possibly no one has solved before.

Added to that, regular web development is rather simple, I’ll be honest. Everyone has done it, so that means there are also one and a million solutions available ready for you to use. Want a front end framework with easy routing and thousands upon thousands of ready to use integrations and components? Take your pick out of React, Vue, Svelte or any of the other popular frameworks. It’s all immediately available, and you’ll have a fully working website up and running in no time. SmartTV doesn’t come with those easy and ready to use integrations, or at least, definitely not as many. It means you have to heavily rely on your own coding and architectural knowledge. You need a deeper understanding of the workings of vanilla Javascript and CSS. Developing means doing almost everything by yourself, sometimes reinventing the wheel because SmartTVs don’t come with wheels yet. It makes for an often incredibly challenging job.

It’s easy for your work to be used by many

Having a sense of impact might be one of the most important aspects of any job out there. Who would be happy working their day to day job knowing maybe 5 people every week are actively using it? I don’t think many would get too much fulfilment out of that.

In world where even your grandma’s dog has to have a website, getting fulfilment out of what you’re building is becoming increasingly more difficult. That however definitely doesn’t apply to SmartTV, or at least, not yet. Since it’s such a particular field to work in, there aren’t many developers actually doing this work. Which automatically means the impact you’re making is getting a lot bigger than say being a typical web developer, where the market is immensely saturated (even your grandma’s dog can build a website nowadays, too).

It’s also the type of TV-apps you’re getting to work on, that makes developing majorly impactful. Because you’re definitely going to work with some of the big dogs out there. Maybe not necessarily the Netflixes and Disneys among us, but certainly the tiers below that. Since there aren’t too many parties actually looking for having a TV-app, you’ll always be reaching thousand upon millions of users simply for the fact that only bigger parties will have a TV-app.

And let’s not forget, you and your close family are often those users, too! How cool is it to have your friends over for a movie night, where you can say that they are watching a movie in the app you worked on? Talk about impact!

Working with media and television is pretty cool

I’ll admit, this is definitely up to personal preference (then again, maybe most is in this blog). But my god, if there’s any field that’s been on the very top of my list to work in, it’s the industry of media and television. You can barely count the amount of interesting things and developments that have happened in the past few years.

From getting towards 4K and even 8K television, curved screens, to HDR and different types of DRM; technology of TV never stands still. And an added benefit of working with TVs is that you’ll often need to have the latest models to test with! Who doesn’t enjoy staring at the latest QD-OLED TV from Samsung or Sony ‘because we need to test and make sure our application works properly’? And let’s not forget those beautiful OLED TVs from LG either.

That’s not all though, because while the technology is really cool, it’s also about the video content. By working with so many different types of content providers, you’ll often get a sneak peak at new content. Or maybe free access. Or both! It’s a great added benefit from working in this industry, that goes further than just the workplace and translates right into your living room.

What I like about developing for SmartTV

In the grand scheme of things, developing for SmartTV is actually pretty amazing. Sure, there are always going to be downsides, but you’ll have those with any job. In the end though, the technology is both easy to use, yet still can provide you with a very tough nut to crack. The world of television never stands still and you’ll always be picking up new technologies.

One of the biggest things though, is impact. It is to my opinion one of the easiest ways to be able to reach the masses with your work, which can definitely be very fulfilling. It’s a joy to work in this industry, and I wouldn’t want to change it anytime soon!

PS. Did working in this industry peak your interest, want to come work with me? Check out 24i’s career page!

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