Introducing Muine, Rhythmbox in 2.8 and other things


In this mail I'd like to introduce the Muine music player[1], and touch
a few issues regarding inclusion of a (any) music player in GNOME 2.8.

First of all it is very important to understand Muine is not meant to
ever be an as powerful music manager as what Rhythmbox aspires to be.
Muine is meant to be a music player, playing music transparantly from a
well-tagged music collection. 

The reason I started to design Muine is simple. The iTunes model works
relatively well, but it has issues, the most prominent one being
queueing music not working transparantly and smoothly. With Muine I have
tried to design an interface that accomodates a music library,
transparant queueing, easy "xmms jump to-like" access to songs and
albums, and soon grouping[2] music transparantly. Whether this has
succeeded is of course debatable, but I am very interested in feedback.

Other stuff that is in the pipeline for Muine is:

- Song/album information dialogs and basic tagging support

- Burning CDs from the current playlist

There are a couple of outstanding issues too:

- CD ripping. It would be great to have a standardised place where to
store music (~/Music or something), where sound-juicer would dump its
ripped files by default and where Muine would pull its music from by

- Integration with portable players. This is planned, but no design work
has been done yet.

And there are a few things that will never appear in Muine:

- Internet radio
  Integrating internet radio support in a track-based program is bound
to end up as some hack. Radio stations have no duration, so presenting
them in a playlist-based interface would be awkward. In my opinion a
small, clean, separate internet radio application would be a lot better.
Muine, and this application (and Rhythmbox?) could talk to each other
through dbus, stopping playback from the others when it starts playing
for example. And there could be one "music" panel applet or tray icon,
countaining basic play/pause actions, and things like "play song/play
album/play station".

- Full-blown tagging
  Full-blown tagging, including Musicbrainz support, replaygain
calculation and all that in my opinion belongs in a separate app
designed for the task. Muine will support basic tag editing though, for
correcting typos, adding dates, etc.

- Visualization
  This belongs in a separate application, or xscreensaver module or
whatever. This app could read data from a sound server.

My goal with Muine is to build a player that can be used instead of
Rhythmbox for *most* people. There will always be things Rhythmbox can
do that Muine cannot do (and probably vice-versa too), for example I can
imagine Rhythmbox having Rendezvous support in the future, where this
would not work with Muine. And there will always be people prefering
Rhythmbox while others will prefer Muine.

And how does this all fit within GNOME? There are several issues:

- Including a music player in the desktop

There has been talk about proposing Rhythmbox for GNOME 2.8.  I'm not
sure it is a good idea to include *any* music player in the desktop
release.  Something that plays music files, like totem, is a must in my
opinion, but a full-blown music player is not something everybody will
use.  I mean, having a full blown music playback application in an
office workstation seems a little out of place.  In my opinion having a
well-integrated, separately available package (or packages! who says
that in this case one has to be "chosen") is a lot better.  (Something
like an "Install music playback software" checkbox in your distro's
installer)  Other than that Rhythmbox has its usage problems which are
extremely hard if not impossible to fix properly (I've been trying for
more than a year), and I'm not sure shipping an iTunes clone (not
entirely of course, but basically) in the core desktop is too good for
GNOME's image.

- Backend

Muine currently defaults to using a xine-lib backend. Using GStreamer
would be a lot nicer obviously, but there currently are a couple of
issues preventing it from being used succesfully in Muine. Details can
be found on this page:

- Mono

Muine is built using Mono. I don't think I need to say more here ..

My apologies if these things have been discussed before. I'm just giving
my take on things here, take from it what you will ..



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