Linked by Kroc Camen on Thu 4th Dec 2008 18:20 UTC
Editorial Songbird is a new open-source music player that has this week landed at 1.0. Songbird is described as a "web player"- a music player for this modern, connected era. It blends the web-rendering core of Firefox (Gecko), with the media capabilities of GStreamer- a cross-platform, open-source media playback engine.
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Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

iTunes already exists, and most people are using it. I compared it to iTunes, even unfairly, because that's exactly what it is up against when people download Songbird to use it.

There is no magical amnesia effect that means when you install Songbird, suddenly I no longer have any need at all for the features I was using in iTunes.

Being a 1.0 is not an excuse - when people are going to download Songbird and try it out, many having already used iTunes and Windows Media Player -- and yes, many may find that Songbird is a very good player because they never used CDs anyway &c.

If you expect fairness, because you expect me to address Songbird from the perspective of a user who has never used any other media player before, then you should write a rebuttal article. Correct me.

As it stands, Songbird is an innovate project, that doesn't do what I'm currently doing with other software.

As for OS X. It's my primary platform. It takes care and attention to detail to make a decent Mac app, and that is a good sign of quality in any new app to see that attention given. I should have added that Firefox didn't get the right sort of attention until 3.0.

If I can use a product for the first time, and spot 10-15 glaring bugs within a few hours use, there's something wrong the development process, or simply not enough eyes viewing the product during beta. (Apparently none, given I could uncover bugs within seconds).

It doesn't matter if I'm using Windows or OS X - if I'm finding bugs that quickly then I highly doubt that the product will be flawless and bug free on another platform.

As I've made clear - I'm not being kind to Songbird just because it's new, or because it's some darling of open source. It's playing in the real world, and the real world means iTunes; like it or lump it.

It's a good project, that will yield results in two to three years, but I'm not going to write a floral and superficial review like that I've seen elsewhere.


edit: PS. modded you up, all valid criticisms.

Edited 2008-12-05 10:51 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

OddFox Member since:
2005-10-05

Get a sense of perspective Kroc, you act like iTunes wasn't woefully inadequate in its 1.0 days when compared to how it is now. Here's a little bit of history for you: http://www.tuaw.com/2006/09/14/itunes-from-0-0-to-7-0/

I blasted you for being unfair to Songbird by expecting it to be a drop-in replacement for iTunes at its first 1.0 release, when iTunes has taken what, almost 8 years to get to the point it's at today. You make it seem like a 1.0 release is the only chance that an application has to flesh out what it really truly is, and you ignore that your little darling program was, in all honesty, a piece of junk when it first hit the scene, compared to what people had been using.

MacOSX and Linux users (Of which I am both a part of) are notoriously unforgiving of a program that is not completely spick-and-span, conforming entirely to whatever UI guidelines and setup they may have. We also tend to forget that development of a software project is ultimately community/user-driven through feedback to the people who have the ability to add/tweak things. "It takes care and attention to detail to make a decent Mac app, and that is a good sign of quality in any new app to see that attention given." Please, it takes care and attention to detail to make a decent app on any platform, and you are being nothing but unreasonable in expecting perfection, as you say it flawless and bug-free. Guess what, very few programs are flawless and bug-free, and they tend to be incredibly small and for a very specific purpose. Your beloved iTunes is in no way flawless and bug-free, just a few months back it was causing Blue Screen errors on Vista: http://gizmodo.com/5047721/itunes-8-causing-huge-problems-bsod-for-...

Wow, I guess that must mean Apple is some sort of amateur outfit who couldn't be bothered to test on every platform they release for as thoroughly as we would like them to test. Stop expecting the world and then some from this small group of open source developers with infinitely less resources than corporations like Apple and Microsoft. The point is that bugs happen, we provide feedback and they get squashed. It's not like Songbird formatted your data partition or something monumental, it lost focus or had shortcomings on your niche system (Yes, OSX is a NICHE market). Logic dictates one should focus a review on what the application says it sets out to do, and you do it in an unbiased manner. Basically what you provided here in this article is a review of Songbird for OSX as if OSX was a primary development target, which is ludicrous when you yourself are aware that Firefox even up until 3.0 was not entirely up to snuff visually for a lot of OSX users.

Kinda boils down to you expecting far more from this music player than it said it had. One look at the features page mentions absolutely nothing about anything you complain about being missing, with the exception of them stating video support and cd ripping are coming down the tube. And you use the fact that they have "Coming Soon" features at the bottom of the feature page as some sort of How Dare They, like they're trying to hide something by merely putting it where it makes sense. Their website isn't some DVD where Coming Attractions makes sense to put at the beginning, their website is there to convey information in the order which it should be conveyed. Here's what we have, here's what we are close to having, and here's what we want to have.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Okay, I'll just get into my time machine and hop back to 2001 and review Songbird 1.0 there.

Just playing music, Songbird was buggy and unpolished compared to iTunes. Now, I can choose to either live with those problems because my ideals lie with open music formats, or the web features, or I can continue to use the tool that already works for me.

If Songbird can provide a smooth playback experience in future versions, It'll get a much more glowing review from me.

I have many criticisms of iTunes. It was good at 4.9 when they added Podcasting. The problem with iTunes is that you get what you're lumped with and any flaws and bloat can't be fixed by a wider community.

Kinda boils down to you expecting far more from this music player than it said it had


I expected it to play music, and didn't do that all that smoothly.

I expected it to not import my videos, or somehow alert me clearly that video was not supported, but it didn't - instead giving a subpar experience that could have easily been cleaned up by simply not including video files in the library.

I didn't expect it to have an online store. I didn't even mention that in the article.

*When* Songbird is a better player, I'll give it better reception. But right now, I gave it a task to do and it didn't do too well. Potential, resources, community or not - I can't go recommend Songbird to my grandma based on the principle that it's a small project written by a small group of people and it doesn't work very well at the moment -- but it will later.

*When* 2.0, 3.0 &c. is a good player, I'll recommend it then.

We, the technical community understand audio formats, and are willing to contribute and put up with shortcomings -- the public are not. If Songbird doesn't work right, they go back to Windows Media Player or iTunes because Songbird "didn't seem to work".

addendum: Firefox 0.93 did everything better than IE for me.

Edited 2008-12-05 11:33 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Being a 1.0 is not an excuse - when people are going to download Songbird and try it out, many having already used iTunes and Windows Media Player -- and yes, many may find that Songbird is a very good player because they never used CDs anyway &c.

Um... you're comparing a relatively new 1.0 piece of software, to a much older and mature 8.0 piece of software. Do you really not see a problem there? The higher version (especially with such a difference in number) is obviously going to be more feature-rich and most well-tested version in most cases. It even has the added bonus of being pre-installed on every Mac, so surely they've hammered any major (and most minor) bugs.

I would be a bit curious (and not in a good way... skeptical would probably be a better word) if a new 1.0 product was every bit as fully-featured as iTunes. I would expect to see lots of major bugs, possibly instability, a weak GUI, and a poorly-designed program overall. Think Microsoft, or all the other crap that corporations like to shove in our face at a high price... over, and over, and over. [Unfortunately, not even open source is innocent of this.]

And why the hell do so many people think that and audio player should for whatever reason also be able to play video files? That's one thing that really pissed me off about Winamp (plus many, many more things after that happened).

Reply Parent Score: 2