beaTunes News

Thursday, August 22, 2019

New Snapshot for Catalina

If you're already using Catalina/macOS 10.15, please update to the latest snapshot. It addresses a couple of issues.

Currently there are no known issues. But keep in mind that you cannot simply go back to v5.1.x, because the internal database will be changed the first time you run v5.2.x. So, if your database is valuable to you, please keep a backup!

Here are the two links:

Please report feedback in the forum.

Thank you!

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

New beaTunes Snapshot for Catalina

Good news! Notarization turned out not to be as difficult as previously thought. But it required more internal changes to beaTunes than anticipated. Obviously, that's a good reason to post another snapshot that contains these changes. And because they are not just about packaging, but the bundled Java runtime, the Windows version is affected as well. In essence, I had to move from Java 8 to Java 11. One of the consequences is that using macOS 10.11 or later is now recommended.

Please give this new snapshot a shot (ha! please excuse the pun), if you're on macOS 10.15/Catalina or Windows and feel adventurous.

Currently there are no known issues. But keep in mind that you cannot simply go back to v5.1.x, because the internal database will be changed the first time you run v5.2.x. So, if your database is valuable to you, please keep a backup!

Here are the two links:

Please report feedback in the forum.

Thank you!

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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Notarization and Java Apps

Catalina will be upon us this Fall, which means that iTunes will be no more (R.I.P.). But that's not the only thing that will change. According to Apple:

Mac apps, installer packages, and kernel extensions that are signed with Developer ID must also be notarized by Apple in order to run on macOS Catalina.

This has a number of consequences.

First of all, this may increase security for users. A notarized app may be less able to carry out an attack. And users will be able to distinguish between notarized and unnotarized apps. If I am not mistaken, it might also give Apple a kill switch on any such app, at least when you first try to run it. Because as it turns out, macOS 10.14 and later phone home when first running a notarized app. Additionally, this gives Apple unique data about which software was installed on which IP address at what time. So for the user there are some privacy concerns and maybe some security benefits.

What does it mean for developers?

Frank Reiff recently wrote a lengthy post about all the trouble he faced when trying to notarize an app. It took him 5 days to get it all to work. In the end he concludes:

As a long time Mac developer (since 1994), however, I can’t help thinking though that the security people at Apple would have done better ironing out the bugs and limitations of the sandbox to get it work properly and be less of a nuisance, rather than adding yet another security approach.

If early reports about Catalina are to be believed, it looks like there are so many people working on Mac security that they have to roll out new security features at each release, whether they are a net benefit to users or not. Perhaps, these people could be tasked with making macOS great again instead?

AFAIK, Frank is using XCode and ships native apps. For beaTunes things are a little different, as it uses Java as runtime. So far Oracle (or anybody else I know of) has not shipped a Java runtime that has been compiled against macOS SDK 10.9 or later and the hardened macOS runtime. Additionally, Oracle's Java executables are not signed with suitable signature algorithms (see Bug JDK-8223671 for a detailed list of notarization failures). All these are requirements for notarization. There is no way for me to ship a notarized version of beaTunes before they are addressed and unless I want to roll my own version of Java (I don't!!), I simply have to wait and hope that someone at Oracle will take pity on Mac devs.

Not a pleasant situation to be in.

Update 8/6/2019

It turns out that notarizing a Java app that bundles Java 11 is a bit painful, but absolutely possible.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

beaTunes Dev Version for Apple's new Music App

As you have probably heard by now, Apple has decided to split up iTunes for macOS 10.15 into separate apps for music, TV, podcasts etc. What you might not have heard is that Apple apparently decided to remove the XML library dump, known as iTunes Library.xml. Both changes require some adjustments to how beaTunes works.

I believe that I have addressed most, if not all, apparent issues and would like to offer a development snapshot to all the brave souls who took the plunge and already upgraded to macOS 10.15/Catalina. Since there are some substantial changes under the hood, the new version will get a new minor version number, i.e., the final version will be called v5.2. As per the long-standing beaTunes update pricing policy, minor version updates are always free. Catalina compatibility is not the only thing addressed in v5.2, there are also some database layout changes and the capability to drop all fingerprints from the database to free some disk space.

Always Backup!

Because 5.2 changes the internal database, you cannot simply downgrade back to 5.1.x. So if you want to take 5.2 for a spin, please backup your database before you do.

Here's the macOS download link: beaTunes-5-2-0-SNAPSHOT.dmg

Please let me know via the support forum, how well this snapshot works for you.

Thank you!

PS: Should you encounter application crashes, please upload your crash logs upon application restart. You should be prompted for this.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Update: beaTunes 5.1.14

This update fixes a couple of issues, most notably a potential stack overflow on Windows. To counter issues with the Amazon integration, some error messages have been revised to be more precise and browser-based alternatives have been enabled to view Amazon charts. I'm aware, these are certainly not ideal solutions, but for the time being the appropriate step.

On another front, Apple has apparently decided to drop the automatic export of the iTunes Library.xml file from their macOS 10.15 iTunes incarnation, dubbed Music.app. This is an issue as beaTunes still relies on the file. I'm actively working on resolving this and am confident there will be a solution before macOS 10.15 is released to end-users.

As always, you can download the new version from the download section of the website.

Changes in 5.1.14

  • Fixed potential stack overflow on Windows (MediaKind).
  • Provided browser-based fallback for failing Amazon charts.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

Avoiding Amazon Integration Failures

As already mentioned in Dec 2018, Amazon has decided to cut off access to its advertising API for associates who do not drive enough revenue. This has now happened for the German Amazon integration in beaTunes, which is why charts, Amazon info and Amazon recommendations currently aren't shown anymore (the error message is misleading, it's indicating a network problem).

If you are interested in a working Amazon integration in beaTunes, you can help fix this: The next time you want to buy something on the German Amazon website, click on this link and then continue shopping. Any sale within 24h of clicking that link will cause Amazon to allow API requests again, which in turn re-enables the Amazon integration in beaTunes. Obviously, this will also generate referral fees for me. But we are talking about cents, perhaps dollars per month—no large sums. Trust me, this won't make me rich.

The link above only works for the German integration. Please use the following links for French, English and Japanese:

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Update: beaTunes 5.1.13

Just in time for Easter: a new beaTunes update. This release features a couple of bug fixes and minor performance enhancements. Additionally, it provides initial support for DSF files—at least for folder-based libraries. Note that this is still rather new, i.e., your mileage may vary.

As always, you can download the new version from the download section of the website.

Changes in 5.1.13

  • Fixed accidental genre removal in multi-item Get Info dialog.
  • Fixed search bug in large collections.
  • Fixed matching logic in similar artist rule.
  • Improved rendering performance of tags column.
  • Prefer FFmpeg-based decoding over Windows Media Foundation.
  • Added initial support for DSF.

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