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fre:ac Developer Blog

Welcome to the fre:ac developer blog. I will post status updates and other information about fre:ac development here.

fre:ac development status update 06/2014 Print
Written by Robert   
Monday, 30 June 2014 19:05

Last month saw the release of a new snapshot and I'm now figuring out what to put into the next.

Plans include using the common menu bar on OS X, sorting the joblist by clicking on column headers and replacing the Windows Wave File output component with a more versatile one based on libsndfile, that will be able to output other basic formats like Apple AIFF in addition to Wave. libsndfile is already used to read such formats in current snapshots.

One thing I already implemented is an improved algorithm for the "Add files by pattern" functionality. Starting with the next snapshot, you will be able to apply the search pattern to subfolders of the selected folder by checking the corresponding option. Additionally, the search pattern itself can now include folders, so with a pattern like "Linkin Park*/*.flac" you could add all FLAC files belonging to Linkin Park albums.

I also worked on improving stability on Linux and FreeBSD in the past weeks and made some attempts to improve performance on OS X. I'll probably be able go into detail about these in next month's update.

If you read last month's status report, you will have noticed there's no fre:ac 1.0.22 release, yet. I found some problems with the compiler I planned to use for that release, so this is holding it back for a while. I expect to be able to release it in July.

fre:ac development status update 05/2014 Print
Written by Robert   
Saturday, 31 May 2014 12:34

A last minute status update again this month - here's what happened in fre:ac development in May.

The designated main feature of the upcoming snapshot, chapter support for ID3v2 tags, has been implemented and tested and it's working fine already. ID3v2 chapters allow storing much more information than just chapter titles. You can add any information supported by ID3v2 on a per chapter basis. Artists and original albums for compilations, chapter comments and even cover art.

By the way, while at it, I also implemented WMA chapter support to enable chapters in all formats that are able to store them.

I'm now working on implementing cdparanoia III 10.2 cache modelling support in GNU libcdio, the CD ripping library used by fre:ac on Linux and OS X. This will allow detection of drives with faulty cache management (which might result in bad rips) and issue a warning in that case. The new snapshot will also make use of this feature when using the original cdparanoia libary.

The OS X snapshots will be digitally signed starting with the next one. That way they can be used on Mountain Lion and Mavericks without having to change the Gatekeeper settings.

If everything goes as planned during the next week, the snapshot will be released on June 8th. When it's out, I will concentrate on a service release for the 1.0.x series. fre:ac 1.0.22 should be ready around mid June.

I wrote about building a new website for the fre:ac project a few months ago and some of you might wonder what's the status of it. Well, I decided it's more important to get the software ready for a 1.1 beta release first, so the website overhaul will be delayed a few months.

fre:ac development status update 04/2014 Print
Written by Robert   
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 23:22

Just in time for the end of the month, here's the development status update for April.

Editing Japanese text in fre:ac on Ubuntu Linux.I implemented some of the things announced in the previous status update during the past few weeks. Namely, international text input is now supported on X11 based systems and CD spin-up is supported on all platforms.

International text input was tested on Linux using the Anthy Japanese IME (Input Method Editor) with the IBus and SCIM backends. It should work with other IMEs and on other operating systems as well as long as IBus or SCIM are used as backends.

CD spin-up support allows you to specify a number of seconds to wait for your drive to spin up before ripping. If configured, fre:ac will wait the set time before starting to rip a disc.

fre:ac in Windows 8.1 high DPI mode comparison.While working on those features, I found some issues with font management and high DPI scaling which will be fixed in the next snapshot. The changes will fix the blurry interface that users with high DPI displays may experience on Windows 8 and will make GUI text more readable by using the correct default font. Besides those, I also found and fixed some other graphical glitches on Windows. Tooltip shadows staying on the screen after the tooltip closed and button highlight frames appearing randomly will soon be a thing of the past.

I am now working on implementing chapter support in the id3lib version used by fre:ac. Because chapter frames can include any other ID3 frames as additional information, this requires some code restructuring in id3lib to avoid duplications. I am making good progress on this and expect to be able to test chapter support during the next week.

Unfortunately, common menu bar support on OS X will not make it into the upcoming snapshot and be delayed until the following one.

The next snapshot should be ready for release around late May / early June.

fre:ac development status update 03/2014 Print
Written by Robert   
Monday, 17 March 2014 13:27

After the release of the 20140223 snapshot I made plans for what to get into the next one. So here's what's planned for the next snapshot.

Of course, ID3v2 chapter support will be one of the new features as it was originally scheduled for the previous snapshot already. In addition, there will also be support for chapters in Vorbis Comment tags (used by the Vorbis, Opus and Speex encoders) as well as some improvements to cover art handling with those tags. Regarding CD ripping, the next snapshot will introduce an option to spin up the disc before actually starting to rip and will add support for reading ISRC fields on systems using the CDIO library as a ripper backend. If I’m getting it done in time, I will also include IME (Input Method Editor for complex alphabets) support on Linux and switch to using the common menu bar on OS X.

Unfortunately, except for the Vorbis Comment improvements, I didn’t implement much of this yet as there were quite a few reports of problems with the 20140323 release. I was busy fixing those issues for the greater part of the past three weeks. The problems fixed include memory management issues when adding and converting large numbers of tracks on OS X and problems with fre:ac hanging on Linux when adding tracks with cover art.

I will probably be able to predict a release date for the upcoming snapshot in next month’s status update.

fre:ac development status update 02/2014 Print
Written by Robert   
Sunday, 16 February 2014 14:22

I made a lot of progress with fre:ac in the past three weeks as several things turned out to be simpler to fix or implement than expected. Here’s an update on the development status.

I had another look at CD ripping on OS X and implemented runtime disc detection, i.e. fre:ac will dynamically show or hide the “Add audio CD tracks” button as you insert or remove discs. In addition, autoloading tracks to the joblist and 0-click-ripping work on OS X and Linux now.

The Core Audio encoder now works perfectly on Windows and OS X, performace improvements have been implemented for the Opus and Speex encoders and drag & drop is functional on Linux now. I also managed to significantly improve stability on OS X and Linux and fix several bugs and glitches on all systems. Stability of the Linux version should now be on par with the Windows snapshots while the OS X version is still lacking a little bit in that regard. I hope to bring stbility on OS X up to par with one of the following snapshots.

Unfortunately, ID3v2 chapters are not supported yet and I decided to delay them until after the February snapshot. I think it’s a good time to release a snapshot now and give you early access to the already implemented things instead of further delaying it to get additional features in.

I need a few more days for consolidating everything, i.e. looking for and fixing remaining bugs and wrapping the packages. The next snapshot should be available within one week from now.

In parallel, I’m also working on a new website for the fre:ac project. Besides a new look and responsive design, it will feature a comment function for news and blog articles. I expect to be able to launch the new site in April, but please don’t pin me down to that date.

fre:ac development status update 01/2014 Print
Written by Robert   
Saturday, 25 January 2014 16:27

OS X version of fre:ac ripping the hidden track from Fall Out Boy - Folie à Deux.In the past three weeks I implemented the Core Audio encoder component. I'm already testing AAC and ALAC encoding and most of it is working really well. The new component will replace the FAAC encoder on systems where Core Audio is available. Unfortunately on Windows, Core Audio will only be supported in the 32 bit version of fre:ac as Apple does not provide 64 bit versions of the required Application Support DLLs yet. The 32 bit version will be able to make use of the new encoder if either iTunes or QuickTime is installed on your system.

Core Audio aside, I worked on some other areas as well. The OS X version of fre:ac now supports drag & drop, so you can drop files or folders on the main window to add them to the joblist. I'm still working to implement the same for the Linux version and expect it to be ready for the next snapshot.

I also added support for ripping audio hidden before the first track of some audio CDs. This is known as hidden track one audio or HTOA. fre:ac will show such hidden tracks when adding respective discs to the joblist. However, whether you can actually rip them depends on the capabilities of your drive. Some drives return only empty (silent) sectors when trying to rip such hidden tracks.

Furthermore, I made CD ripping work on OS X so you can finally rip if you are using fre:ac on a Mac. At this point, however, CD drives are detected only if a disc is inserted when starting fre:ac. This will probably change in the future.

The problems with the V8 JavaScript engine on OS X Leopard have been resolved as well. Turned out I simply had to compile it using GCC 4.2 instead of 4.0 for it to work. This means that the video downloader will be available on Intel Macs running Leopard starting with the next snapshot. PowerMac users will have to wait a little longer as baseline V8 does not support the PPC architecture yet. There is an IBM funded project to port it to these processors though. Their version just doesn't support OS X yet.

All of the changes I talked about are available in CVS now and I expect to be able to release a new snapshot in February or March.

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