iPlayer downloads for the masses

I’ve updated the GUI with the latest counter-counter-measures as of 11th June.

I don’t use Windows. Can’t stand it, personally. All those constant hectoring yellow bubbles drive me spare. ‘Your computer is vulnerable.’ No shit, it’s Windows. If you unplug a USB device and plug it back into a different socket, it spends five minutes walking you through reinstalling the drivers. It’s a horrible platform to develop on, and not much better as a target. The malevolent impact of Internet Explorer alone on web development has probably cost the world economy millions in lost productivity.

Sorry, I’m venting. I’m not saying you’re an idiot for using Windows, but, well, it wouldn’t be my choice. However, it’s still popular, at least at the low end of the computing market. It’s the most used operating system.

And iplayer-dl is a pain to get working on it. That’s a shame.

So, after fobbing people off with the genuine excuse that I don’t know much about Windows, I’ve decided to do something about it. Why? Because I think the true disruptive potential of iPlayer downloads has been held back by installation difficulties.

I’ve decided to open Pandora’s box, and make downloads available to all.

To that end, I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend working out how to write a graphical Ruby application for Windows, and how to package it up so that it’s easy to download and use. I think I’ve cracked it.

Try downloading and running this application:


There’s no installer or anything: just run it from wherever you like.

If you get an error message like this:

This application has failed to start because MSVCP711.dll was not found. Re-installing the application may fix this problem.

Then you need to get hold of a couple of DLLs. I’d love to distribute them myself, but I don’t think I’m allowed. A bit of googling will find them, or you can just use these links:

Unzip them and put them either in the c:\windows\system32 folder, or in the same place as ipdl.exe

Type a programme ID or URL into the box, press download, and you’ll be asked where to save the file. Where possible, this will be pre-filled with the name of the programme:

iPlayer Downloader Save As dialog

Once you click OK, the download will begin:

iPlayer Downloader download progress

That’s it, really. Have a go, and let me know how you get on!

Oh yeah, licensing: the .exe is actually a self-extracting amalgam of my code, Ruby, and some supporting libraries. My code is MIT, but the other components are under their own licences. The COPYING file in my repository contains more information.

The GUI is missing some of the niceties of the command-line tool—there’s no obvious way to configure a proxy, for example. I may add this, depending on feedback.

Linux users aren’t left out, by the way: the GUI works very nicely in X11—in fact, that’s how I developed it. I’ll prepare a release soon, along with some explanations of how to install it.


  1. Upekshapriya

    Wrote at 2008-06-01 23:02 UTC using Firefox on Windows XP:

    Really cool, thanks and it’s already downloading fine its first programme!
  2. Strawp

    Wrote at 2008-06-02 08:39 UTC using Firefox 3.0 on Windows XP:

    Oh hells yes! Even my housemates could understand this ;)
  3. Gareth John

    Wrote at 2008-06-02 23:03 UTC using Firefox on Linux:

    Hey great stuff with the iplayer_dl i downloaded it a few days back for ruby it absolutly rocks i was getting fed up of getting rubish quality becuase im a linux user and after all i along with 60 million others own the tv shows anyway! Bugger im ranting. Anyway i always thought you could use ruby in windows?? maybe not but great job dude much appreciated i hope you keep it up you are the hero of the UK linux population!
  4. Sean

    Wrote at 2008-06-03 11:45 UTC using Firefox 2.0 on Windows Vista:

    As soon as I open the exe I get an error message saying;

    ipdl.exe has stopped working

    Windows is checking for a solution to the problem…
  5. James Darling

    Wrote at 2008-06-03 17:35 UTC using Unknown browser on Mac OS X:

    You should be hung as a traitor :-)
  6. Random Guy

    Wrote at 2008-06-03 17:55 UTC using Firefox on Windows XP:

    Excellent program, thank you!
  7. sam

    Wrote at 2008-06-04 07:48 UTC using Firefox 3.0 on Windows XP:

    hi, how can i find the programmeID for the shows that i want? I’ve tried looking in the source code for the page in firefox but cant find it.

    The video i want is on here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cultureshow/videos/2008/06/s5_e1_pilkington_extra/index.shtml

    hope someone can paste me the programmeid that i need for it.

    Many thanks!
  8. Paul Battley

    Wrote at 2008-06-05 06:46 UTC using Firefox 3.0b5 on Linux:

    Sam, that page isn’t the regular iPlayer, so it’s not possible to download it via this method.
  9. Tom

    Wrote at 2008-06-05 17:31 UTC using Firefox 3.0 on Windows XP:

    Thanks for writing this – just what I’ve been looking for!

    Unfortunately, upon trying it out (on this week’s PMQs) the .MOV that downloaded wouldn’t play via Quicktime or even VLC. iTunes refuses to import it, so I can’t test it on my Touch.

    Any ideas?
  10. Anon

    Wrote at 2008-06-05 19:05 UTC using Firefox 3.0 on Linux:

    Yep, looks like it no longer works under Linux too. Tried downloading any file, download completes, then any attempt to play the .mov results in an error (corrupted stream etc.).

    I’m using version 0.1.2 of iplayer-dl
  11. Paul Battley

    Wrote at 2008-06-05 19:18 UTC using Firefox 3.0b5 on Linux:

    I can confirm the problem, and reproduce it. I’ll try to work out what’s going on.
  12. Andrew Gee

    Wrote at 2008-06-06 20:24 UTC using Firefox 3.0b5 on Linux:

    Same issue here. It seems to be all of the files since yesterday on the BBC’s servers.
  13. Richar

    Wrote at 2008-06-06 21:56 UTC using Firefox on Windows XP:

    Yeah, proxy support would be brilliant, allowing simple use of tor for non-UKers.
  14. adapa

    Wrote at 2008-06-06 22:39 UTC using Firefox on Windows XP 64 or Server 2003:


    I’m in the process of creating a PHP frontend for iplayer-dl.

    Since refactoring, I think iplayer-dl is going to be a lot easier to code around.

    By having a PHP frontend, you can run it on a server and then fetch it over your local network when you want it and a much higher speed.
  15. wei

    Wrote at 2008-06-08 22:06 UTC using Firefox on Windows XP:

    File was found, but download failed.
  16. Paul Battley

    Wrote at 2008-06-12 13:34 UTC using Firefox 3.0 on Mac OS X:

    Comments are now closed: please visit the new project page