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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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:

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:

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:

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

OddFox Member since:

I'm just going to address your post paragraph by paragraph.

You miss the point entirely with your snide remark, my point was that iTunes development has taken course over a period of nearly 8 years, and you are expecting a fresh 1.0 release of this relatively new music player to stack up to its feature set. Do not pretend that you were reviewing it purely on the basis of "Hmmm, seems to play back the audio, we're done here!"

I'm curious, what music formats did you have problems with in Songbird? It supports far more than your preferred iTunes. This is relevant because of this: "With the QuickTime Playback and Window Media Playback add-ons installed, Songbird can play all the popular music formats including MPEG Audio (mpga), MPEG Layer 3 (mp3), MPEG4 family including FairPlay (m4a, m4v, mp4, m4p, m4b), Ogg Vorbis, Speex, AAC, WMA, WMADRM, FLAC, and less important: LPCM, ADPCM, AMR. If you're a developer, teach Songbird how to play your favorite format!" source: Again, which format are you having difficulty playing back? If your gripe is with the program itself having shortcomings, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for you to even mention ideals lying with open formats, the point is irrelevant to the discussion because those are not the only ones Songbird supports.


Criticisms of iTunes are not relevant to this discussion, the only reason I bring up how far along iTunes has come since 1.0 is to illustrate the point to you that development takes time and energy and community interest.

You did not expect it to play music, you expected it to do things that it never said it was meant to do, most notably video playback.

I have no idea how your Songbird both imported a video file and then proceeded to actually display it in your library listing. For one, there are no tags that I'm aware of to attach to a video file to display Artist, Album, Title. How did you find the video file in your playlist? I tried importing a folder full of avi/mpg videos and Songbird quietly did nothing because Import Media was never meant to process video files. You're not that hung up on their usage of the word "Media" instead of "Music" are you?

I don't remember ever mentioning anything about a store, and I personally couldn't care less for an integrated store in a jukebox app, though I guess some people might find that to be a nice feature if they purchase music so regularly.

You are being intellectually dishonest by proclaiming Songbird is not ready for widespread usage because it didn't work perfectly for you on your Mac. I'll say it again, you are a niche market, there are many more people than you who are using a platform where Songbird has gotten more TLC. You know how you can make it better on your platform? By becoming involved. But if you'd rather keep using iTunes, that's fine too, just don't expect the world when developers only have so much time and so many systems to test on.

I find it amazing you continue to fly the flag of "Songbird is not functioning correctly!" when the fact of the matter is, for well over 90% of the potential market it has, it is functioning just fine. Stop pretending your Mac problems are indicative of the software on the whole.

Reply Parent Score: 2