XBMC skins change a lot. They are modded by talented users with new ideas popping up all the time, crazy concepts flying out and different user needs satisfied by generous coders. State-of-the-art skinning indeed. In this context, Confluence, the default XBMC Media Center skin since XBMC Camelot 9.11, has done a great job at what one expects from a default XBMC skin. It’s functional, simple yet powerful, eye catching and easy to navigate. All good qualities but, let’s face it, it was time for a much-needed overhaul. I’m sure Jezz_X thought exactly the same and decided to retire the first version of Confluence skin from its leading role. The new Confluence skin with Aeon skin like horizontal menu is now the default skin for the upcoming XBMC Eden 11.0 and, easy as it may be to notice the new skin looks, that’s not the only change. Far from it. XBMC newcomers had some difficulty dealing with hidden menus or, sometimes, even knowing they existed. All in the past, now.
XBMC skins latest addition: Confluence Horizontal
XBMC skins are getting richer and the new Confluence skin is no exception: it’s more dynamic, has a more fluid appearance, shows the sub-menus automatically while you navigate and, most importantly, gained space so you can have context based shortcuts for your favorite addons and plugins presented on the home screen menu. As you can see in the above image, you can choose Video and Music plugins and Confluence will present them only when you navigate through the Video or Music menus. Neat, right?
Taking the most out of Confluence Horizontal
XBMC skins always need a fair bit of configuration before you can get the most out of them. Confluence is no exception. You must follow a few steps to ensure proper configuration and have addons and plugins shortcuts appearing on the home menu screen. First install your favorite plugins using the XBMC addons manager. Second, go to System >> Skin >> Skin Settings >> Add-on Shortcuts. You need to tell Confluence Horizontal skin what are the addons and plugins you want showing on the home menu screen. That’s it! You might want to take a look at the other personalization options. The result should look like the above image, except you probably prefer other XBMC plugins. At this time, XBMC Eden still lacks a lot of plugins, but that will change. XBMC Eden is nearing the end of the release cycle and addon developers/maintainers will soon catch up.
If, by any chance, you prefer the original Confluence with vertical menu, it still is available inside XBMC skins category in the addons manager. Just install it. Either way, have fun.