Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sort this!

beaTunes LogoEven though we made some significant changes, today's new Early Access release 4 is probably not very exciting from a user's point of view. A biggie for us is the complete removal of any QuickTime for Java (QTJ) dependencies. QTJ lets Java programmers easily access one of the most powerful multimedia libraries out there. Unfortunately, as part of the 64bit-Carbon-abandonment, Apple decided to drop all QTJ support in the 64bit-only Java 6 VM and as a result, we'll have to slowly migrate away from it. As of now, beaTunes 2 is still dependent on (native, Carbon-based) QuickTime and will only run in a 32bit JVM. But at least we got rid of the QTJ code as a first step.

In the Windows world, this move away from QTJ will have positive side-effects. For quite a while now, the iTunes updater tended to mess up the QTJ installation. Many users weren't even able to install beaTunes properly without technical support. With QTJ out of the way, we're looking forward to many happy Windows users and fewer support cases.

But enough with the technical whining - there are other neat little improvements contained in this release. First of all, beaTunes now finally supports iTunes-style sorting utilizing sort name, sort artist, etc. We added a corresponding info dialog pane and, probably best of all, some new inspections designed to deal with wrong or butchered sort names.

As you might know, iTunes determines sort names mostly automatically. If, for example, a song title starts with the word "an", it is assumed to be an indefinite English article and therefore dropped from the sort name. Unfortunately, languages like German also have a word "an", which happens to be a preposition, not an indefinite article and should not be dropped from the sort name. beaTunes now has the ability to detect such errors taking advantage of its language field. So for best results, run the language analysis before inspecting sort names.

We also got to improve the typo inspector - it should now do a better job with short names. Another goodie: Searchboxes now have a little popup menu that let's you specify the search mode. E.g., you can now limit a search to the artist field.

So - here's the obligatory warning: Before downloading and installing this, please make sure you understand what Early Access means:

  • Absolutely no warranty for whatever
  • Features may or may not work, appear, and disappear
  • It may not be possible to migrate data to future versions (even though we make a reasonable effort)
  • This version will cease to function 2 weeks after its release
  • You cannot buy this version

Just so that there is no doubt about it: EA4 isn't even a beta version.

And here are the download links:

Note for EA3 users

EA4 changes the database schema first introduced in EA2. During the update, beaTunes will display a dialog box. Please be patient. The update may take a while.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Windows, accelerate!

beaTunes LogoToday's Early Access release 3 almost didn't happen. First, the Security Update 2008-004/Safari 3.1.2 wrecked our Subversion server, then our hosting service had a power outage (which wouldn't have been all that bad) combined with a backup power failure (which turned out to be pretty bad). So with most of our infrastructure down the drain, things looked pretty bleak as of this morning.

Fortunately, since then, thing's have improved. Our Subversion server is back online (even our continuous integration system Continuum is running) and since you can read this blog entry, our hosting provider managed to get things going again.

But let's talk about more pleasant things. EA3 is out and it should be a blast for Windows users. Yep, that's right, we finally got to do something Big for You! The major improvement in EA3 is analysis speed. We changed our Windows decoding/decompression code to mirror what we have done a while ago on OS X using CoreAudio. This should lead to much quicker analysis (BPM and color) and an overall much more responsive system during analysis. And we'd love to get feedback about this! Let us know, whether the speedup is as great as we think it is... Also, let us know, if any files bomb, i.e. lead to crashes. Changing the decoder is always a tricky thing and in the past we have run into a number of issues with people's audio files. There is definitely some obscure stuff out there...

The other thing we got to improve is the typo inspector. Simply put: Expect fewer false positives.

So - here's the obligatory warning: Before downloading and installing this, please make sure you understand what Early Access means:

  • Absolutely no warranty for whatever
  • Features may or may not work, appear, and disappear
  • It may not be possible to migrate data to future versions
  • This version will cease to function 2 weeks after its release
  • You cannot buy this version

Just so that there is no doubt about it: EA3 isn't even a beta version.

And here are the download links:

Note for EA2 users

EA3 does not change the database schema introduced in EA2. So if you had EA2 running successfully, EA3 will not try to migrate any data. If you never got EA2 to work, because of database issues, you are probably best of simply renaming or deleting the database folder (see EA2 post for exact names) and the file beaTunes2 Music Library.xml before running EA3. This will recreate the database and import old color/BPM etc. data.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

beaTunes 2.0 Early Access 2

beaTunes LogoThanks to all the brave people who downloaded EA1 and took it for a ride. Your feedback was very valuable for EA2, which is available as of today.

Changes include a workaround for a memory leak in Java 6 on Windows, lowered memory consumption while importing beaTunes 1 data, more responsive UI for big libraries, a new Duplicates Inspector, a new play/skip-ratio column etc. We have not changed the BPM algorithm or, for that matter, anything that has to do with analysis. Again, we are looking for feedback - please let us know what's great and what just doesn't work.

And here's the mandatory warning: Before downloading and installing this, please make sure you understand what Early Access means:

  • Absolutely no warranty for whatever
  • Features may or may not work, appear, and disappear
  • It may not be possible to migrate data to future versions
  • This version will cease to function 2 weeks after its release
  • You cannot buy this version

To make this perfectly clear: EA2 isn't even a beta version.

And here are the download links:

Important Note for EA1 users

EA2 contains code that migrates the EA1 database to the new EA2 format. beaTunes will start iTunes (if it is not started already), then convert your database. Depending on the size of your database, this may take a long time, we've seen up to 30min, but it may be longer. You will not get any visual feedback until the conversion is completed, so please be patient, get a coffee and call a friend you haven't talked to in a while.

The conversion is a one-time process. If for some reason you have worked a lot with EA1 and need to be sure that the data is imported correctly, we recommend that you back up your database files before starting EA2. To do so, copy ~/Library/Application Support/beaTunes/Database or c:\Documents and Settings\<username>\.beaTunes\database to a safe location.

One of the reasons why the conversion takes so long, is the fact that we changed the datatype of the primary keys in the biggest tables to achieve better overall performance.

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