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Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Banshee GSoC-2014 projects under Gnome umbrella
This time, Google has given plenty of slots to the GNOME project, so we could accept many participants, including 3 brilliant students to work on the Banshee project. In case they haven't blogged about it, or didn't give much detail, I'll elaborate a bit about what they will be aiming to do these months:
- Nicholas Little will be working on creating a new extension for Bluetooth synchronization, and if time permits, refactoring our MTP support. In regards to the latter, if you have an Android phone you might have experienced some bugs getting it to work with Banshee lately (our MassStorage synchronization support is great, but the latest versions of Android have been deprecating this mode in favour of MTP, which we never supported very well); we have been working hard on fixing them, but Nicholas is going to try to give it that extra push at the end of the summer, which I'm confident he will do very well (he was the developer who brought Symbian support for the masses -or rather, for his Nokia N95 ;) -, on Banshee 2.9.0). And you may be wondering, why do we need Bluetooth sync? Well, we understand that it's much slower than USB or Wifi, but:
- USB can work for the first sync, but whenever you update your library, I never remember to connect my phone again with my cable, or I'm too lazy to do it. Now imagine that whenever your phone is near your computer (and of course if you have Banshee running), they could negotiate together to update the sync without the need of moving a finger!
- Wifi could work also for the use case I just explained, but getting Wifi to work, compared to Bluetooth, would involve creating an app for the phone that could talk with Banshee. And we all know what are the problems associated with that: we would need to be cross-platform for at least the 3 main mobile platforms out there (well, iOS wouldn't even work neither with this nor with Bluetooth, because there are no public APIs to integrate with the music database of the OS, sigh iTunes...), and that means a lot of maintenance burden (even if we choose a same-language native platform like Xamarin), and a user experience that is not so seamless (as it would require the user to install an app first).
- Marcin Kolny, which has convinced us that he will do a great job given his great patches and the fact that he's already very involved in opensource (maintainer of C++ bindings to GStreamer if I recall correctly), will be working on integration with AcoustID. To summarize it very bluntly, AcoustID is the open-source alternative to Shazam, so thanks to this, if you have many tracks in your library which didn't get ripped properly with tags, or you got from some friend which is not very metadata-driven ;) then you will be able to fix this situation! We will be likely reusing the MetadataFixer extension that we already have in Banshee, to not reinvent the UI wheel.
- Dmitriy Petukhov, a very motivated Russian student, will be helping us get two extensions in shape, which were developed in the last GSoC (more details about this in my previous blog post), but were not ready for mainstream yet. The FanArt.TV extension, which retrieves artist logos and shows them next to your album icons, needs some caching (we could even violate FanArt.TV service's ToS if we don't do this) and UI polish (our ListView widget doesn't play well with differently-sized images, so we need to modify this custom GTK widget to allow rendering rows with different heights). The SongKick extension works great, but also needs caching, and it especially needs GeoLocation to maybe even work autonomously (imagine, you don't even know what SongKick is, and because you installed the banshee-community-extensions package of your distro, you suddenly get told that one of your favorite bands is soon playing a gig near your city!).
I'm very happy about starting the mentoring of these projects this year. And I'm specially jealous about my students... I became mentor of GSoC myself without being GSoC student first! (Maybe I should switch roles in the future?)
Wish them good luck! It was actually just yesterday when GSoC really started! (gotta love mondays)
UPDATE: Fixed embarrassing typo: I meant AcoustID, not OpenID!
The other feature, is to link with a player on the phone, so it can automatically continue playing what I was listening to when I get to the house.
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