Overall impression of stability and usability

Discuss the development and future direction of Play.
Paul Gotch
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Post by Paul Gotch » Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:53 pm

Maurits wrote:
sbooth wrote: Regarding gapless AAC, I'm not sure this is likely with the CoreAudio AAC decoder. Perhaps if I wrote my own AAC decoder (using faad?) this would be an option. Currently Play supports gapless for LAME MP3, Vorbis, FLAC, PCM formats, and Apple Lossless.
FAAD is actually a pretty decent decoder, when talking about features. It support more than just the AAC-LC profile that CoreAudio supports at the time. I believe there is some license controversy about it though. When the time comes to think about implementing it, I think we should have a separate topic on FAAD to discuss this.
I've just noticed that Foobar2000 0.9.4.3 (which uses FAAD2) can now handle iTunes encoded AAC gaplessly. However foobar is mostly closed source so I don't know if it's in the mainline FAAD2 code or if it's something that they have added to it.

Unfortunately Foobar using FAAD2 not under the GPL but by special agreement with Ahead Software under a different license which they don't disclose the terms of.

The problem with FAAD2 is that the copyright is owned by Ahead. They originally published it under the GPL then at some point in 2005 they modified the license such that it was a modified GPL that was incompatible with the GPL.

The problem is they added

** Software using this code must display the following message visibly in or
** on each copy of the software:
** "FAAD2 AAC/HE-AAC/HE-AACv2/DRM decoder (c) Nero AG, http://www.nero.com"
** in, for example, the about-box or help/startup screen.

to most of their files which represents an additional restriction over and above the GPL. So you could use it but you'd then have to license Play under a modified form of the GPL rather than the GPL itself.

At this point all the opensource projects using it forked using the prelicense change version which unfortunately has serious bugs in it.

There is also the slight point that apple foot the bill for patent licenses for AAC for the CoreAudio decoder.

(There is a whole side issue of if it's against the license to distribute GPL licensed software which requires a patent license to actually compile and use which makes my brain hurt.)

However I would recommend you don't touch FAAD2 with a bargepole.

I'll just have to convert all my FLAC to lame encoded MP3 for my laptop which sounds almost as good as AAC anyway.

Maurits
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Post by Maurits » Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:39 pm

Because the whole FAAD discussion is way too big and off-topic for this occasion I opened this topic on the possible use of FAAD.

As it is, I don't see the FAAD question play a role for releasing 0.1. I think first priority now is to get a reasonable working player out. As much as I'd like to have gapless AAC, there are bigger things to fix right now. Introducing gapless AAC is a feature, not a bug or usability issue.

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sbooth
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Post by sbooth » Tue May 01, 2007 12:35 am

Maurits wrote:As it is, I don't see the FAAD question play a role for releasing 0.1. I think first priority now is to get a reasonable working player out. As much as I'd like to have gapless AAC, there are bigger things to fix right now. Introducing gapless AAC is a feature, not a bug or usability issue.
Well said!

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krmathis
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Post by krmathis » Tue May 01, 2007 9:35 am

I feel that Play is ready for its 0.1 release now.
It have all the basic features and seems very stable. Ok, I have experienced lots of crashes when going from one revision to another. But deleting the Library.sqlite3 have taken care of those.

There are still features to add (volume control, play web streams, etc.), and I am sure some nicks here and there. But after all we are talking about version 0.1 and not 1.0! :wink:

RonaldPR
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Post by RonaldPR » Tue May 01, 2007 11:45 am

krmathis wrote:I am sure some nicks here and there. But after all we are talking about version 0.1 and not 1.0! :wink:
You are right. For a 0.1 release only a few remaining evident problems need to be solved:
- Enable the OK button in Add Watch Folder panel
- Replace "stream" with "track"
- Configure Sparkle, so auto-update does not announce an update that does not exist.
- Maybe set a lower priority for the Watch Folder scan.
- And please use popular/familiar descriptions in the format column. I am sure that 90% of ordinary users have no idea what "Layer 3" means, while almost anybody using digitized music is familiar with "MP3".

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sbooth
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Post by sbooth » Wed May 02, 2007 3:34 am

I've just posted r722 which changes a few things:

I've added preliminary replay gain support. It is preliminary because while the gains are read from files and implemented in the player, they are not settable. At some point in the future they will be but I just wanted to add the fields to the database now.

The word "stream" has been changed to "track", for simplified understanding.

While working on watch folders, I kept encountering freezes related to multithreading. After many hours of failed debugging, watch folders are now back in the main thread. I also changed their behavior a bit- folders are no longer dynamically scanned for changes. They are scanned when Play starts, and updates are processed. Also, they are now editable and the OK button works as expected.

Maurits
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Post by Maurits » Wed May 02, 2007 9:13 am

sbooth wrote:I've just posted r722 which changes a few things:

I've added preliminary replay gain support. It is preliminary because while the gains are read from files and implemented in the player, they are not settable. At some point in the future they will be but I just wanted to add the fields to the database now.
Great!
OK, my response to this got a bit out of hand so I've split it off to this topic, "ReplayGain in Play". :)
The word "stream" has been changed to "track", for simplified understanding.
Nice.
While working on watch folders, I kept encountering freezes related to multithreading. After many hours of failed debugging, watch folders are now back in the main thread. I also changed their behavior a bit- folders are no longer dynamically scanned for changes. They are scanned when Play starts, and updates are processed. Also, they are now editable and the OK button works as expected.
I'll test it, thanks for looking at it! Most important thing for 0.1 is that it doesn't hang or crash on scanning. Optimising can be done later.

Edit: after using this version for over an hour I must say it feels really smooth and responsive. I believe much more than it did before but I may be fooling myself.
Last edited by Maurits on Wed May 02, 2007 12:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Maurits
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Post by Maurits » Wed May 02, 2007 11:34 am

Some small remarks, not all essential for 0.1 but maybe worth considering:

* In the "track information" window, display when a file has VBR. A bitrate of 288,000 gives it away a bit but the use of VBR should usually be easily detectable from the Xing/Lame tag. Something like "288 kbps (VBR)" would be nice.

* Maybe display the bitrates as kbps and not as bps. Displaying 288kbps is a lot more common than 288,000bps. It's unnecessary precision and half the world uses the comma as a decimal separator so this looks a bit weird to them.

* Displaying a 'track # separator' by default is maybe a bit odd. I now have files displaying "/" or "4/"

* In the browser pane, right clicking on "Watch Folders" main entry should give the option to add a Watch Folder. The same for "Playlists" and "Smart Playlists".

* Maybe make the format searchable as well. That way you can select all your Ogg or MP3 files and *only* those files for future mass metadata editing or ReplayGain scanning for instance. I'm no too sure about this one for now but think about it.

* The technically correct term for MP2 and MP3 is MPEG 1, Layer 2 or 3. Not just "MPEG Audio, Layer x" like in the "Track Information" window under "File Format". MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 Audio exist as well but are commonly called AAC.

I must say, I feel a bit uncomfortable giving these whole lists. :roll: You should know I am in no way demanding all this. They are just hints and it is up to you what to do with it, it's your player. :)

Paul Gotch
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Post by Paul Gotch » Wed May 02, 2007 10:03 pm

Maurits wrote:Some small remarks, not all essential for 0.1 but maybe worth considering:

* Maybe make the format searchable as well. That way you can select all your Ogg or MP3 files and *only* those files for future mass metadata editing or ReplayGain scanning for instance. I'm no too sure about this one for now but think about it.
Actually it is already but only if you explicitly search on the format field it doesn't seem to be anded into the search if you select all fields.

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sbooth
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Post by sbooth » Wed May 02, 2007 10:34 pm

r733 is posted, with some of the changes suggested by Maurits.

Short format descriptions, i.e. MP3, in the tables.

Better formatting of track and disc numbers, for example "1", "1/10", "/10".

Watch folder support improved.

RVA2 tags handled in MP3 files.

RonaldPR
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Post by RonaldPR » Thu May 03, 2007 8:39 am

Automatic search for updates still refers to a new version 2.0 being available and to an url that does not exist.

When the automatic update is configured correctly, I think Play 0.1 can be released.

etien
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Re: Overall impression of stability and usability

Post by etien » Mon Aug 13, 2007 3:54 pm

Hi all

first of all congratulations to sbooth! When i first found out about Play I thought all my prayers had been answered: A SIMPLE AND VERSATILE PLAYER. I have been using it for a couple of days, and reading the various threads here, especially the thread about the Queue which confused me a lot at first. So here's my feedback:

A.
I mostly use the Library to browse and trigger play. I enabled the "always play track when double-clicked" to bypass the automated Queue function. The problem now is that double clicking a track plays it alright, but defaults the Library view to the top of said-Library, which makes browsing difficult.

B.
Another immediate issue somehow related to the first point is the search functionalities. When browsing a large library you need to be able to jump quickly between files. The search functionalities in iTunes/OS X are in my opinion best in class: select a file in the Library window, type a letter/string to jump to the first available result. This depends on which column is selected (ie which sorting option you are currently using). The search field helps somewhat, but again it searches all info instead of the selected column therefore you can't use it to jump to, say, the first artist beginning with "c".

C.
A possible solution would be using the side drawer (Browser) and its lists of Artists and all, but I see 2 problems:
1. when double-clicking on a track after selecting for instance an artist in the Browser, the track plays but the main window displays an "Empty Selection" message. This seems related to the point A.
2. I hate side drawers i¬/
I like apps to be just squares with nothing on either side.



To sum up, and I don't kow how this fits into your development plan, but I would recommend the following two solutions:

a. make the current track being played bold in the Library view, and the Library not default back to top
b. implement a search functionality similar to iTunes (select a row in the Library window, type a string of letters to jump to the first available resultin the column selected)

To me these are the only two aspects that would keep me from switching completely.

That's all for now!

etien
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Re: Overall impression of stability and usability

Post by etien » Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:07 am

I guess another way to put point a. above is to say:

- track being played in bold in Library (and/or with the little speaker symbol next to it, like in the Play Queue)
- by default Play Queue should play the next available track in Library if no other track available in Play Queue (ie if you've reached the end of Play Queue).

That way those who do not use the Play Queue can hide and forget about it, and those who do can still use it as before, with the only difference that it will basically autopopulate itself when it reaches the end, by playing the next track from the Library.

Let me know if that is not clear!

Cheers

etien
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Re: Overall impression of stability and usability

Post by etien » Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:49 pm

Another piece of feedback, this time regarding Watch Folders.

I have a 115+ GB Library, and scanning all this takes forever, making Play hanging for several minutes when launched.

I think an option to trigger a Library scan manually would also improve usability. Users generally know when they've added something new to their Library, so a scan would only be required then.

etien
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Re: Overall impression of stability and usability

Post by etien » Thu Aug 30, 2007 8:48 pm

Ok, the Library stopped defaulting to the beginning. I disabled the "rescan metadata before playing" option, and it looks like it fixed it (although I'm pretty sure I'd tried that before with no change).


Hey, is there anyone out there? it feels rather lonely in here :mrgreen:

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