Songbird 0.5rc1: Still HatchingSongbird 0.5rc1: Still Hatching
A while back I <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2007/12/songbird_mozill.html" target="_blank">looked at</a> an earlier release of the Mozilla-derived open-source music player <a href="http://www.songbirdnest.com/" target="_blank">Songbird</a>, and while I liked what I saw it was still undeniably rough. Now I've looked at the first release candidate of the new version 0.5 of the program, and while it's still promising, there's a few too many places where the prom
March 12, 2008
A while back I looked at an earlier release of the Mozilla-derived open-source music player Songbird, and while I liked what I saw it was still undeniably rough. Now I've looked at the first release candidate of the new version 0.5 of the program, and while it's still promising, there's a few too many places where the promise just isn't completely fulfilled yet. But hey, welcome to beta software.
The first and biggest problem I've seen consistently with Songbird is that it doesn't do the greatest job of handling very large music libraries. If you try to open or scan through a very large library, the program's interface seizes up and goes unresponsive for seconds at a time. My music library has more than 15,000 tracks in it, and I know at least a couple of other people who have collections that dwarf mine. Music lovers have big libraries, and if Songbird can't at least work elegantly with a large library then it's going to be a real barrier to adoption (and, in my case at least, even testing it casually).
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Other omissions at this stage are minor but striking. In version 0.4, the only way to get a Now Playing list -- something that's standard issue on most music players -- was to install a third-party plugin. Not too much of a hassle, since the mechanism for installing plugins is integrated directly into the program a la Firefox itself. In 0.5, this is still the only way to get a Now Playing list, and the plugin in question doesn't work with 0.5. At least, not yet.
Some things that I knew I wanted to see are already here. A third-party extension lets you access the eMusic DRM-free online service (a favorite of mine), and there's talk of adding support for Amazon's MP3 download service as well. Both of these fit perfectly into the "social" aspect of the player, where finding music and connecting with other music lovers is as important as savoring what you have. Those are all great, but I'm still hoping the core components of the player -- the library, the UI -- are what they need to be by the time there's a 1 to the left of the decimal point.
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