A couple of ideas for contributing to Banshee

Published on Monday, November 17, 2008

Jono's blog post about Banshee Kickin' it has some interesting comments that I'd like to address, specifically regarding the new track editor and Internet Radio in the recently released Banshee 1.4.

The Track Editor

The new track editor is fully extensible. This means you can add your own pages to the dialog and get full first class editing support. All of the current pages are implemented in the exact same way you would need to write an extension page.

What I would like to see are a few pages contributed at least initially by the community:

  • Creative Commons metadata/license support
    A lot of work on this in the past had been done in the past, but never to a quality or completeness I was comfortable with for including in core. This support could either be an extension page to the editor, or an extension that interacts with existing pages/fields, like the copyright field. Additionally, the extension could make a track column and query field available, so you could easily search for and view Creative Commons music. This was a pain to do in legacy Banshee, but it's a few lines of code in 1.x.
  • Music Brainz
    A page that allows for figuring out missing metadata, and also submitting track information back to MusicBrainz. Maybe it could also generate PUIDs. We have a complete C# implementation of the MusicBrainz web API (no native library needed) thanks to Scott Peterson, and it's used in other areas in Banshee. This really should not be that complicated to do.

I wrote a quick example today on how to extend the track editor. The example implements a History Page which allows you to change the play count, skip count, and last played date to arbitrary values. More could be done here, and in fact I'd like to make this a core page anyway.

Banshee History Extension to the Track Editor

  • Download the example
  • Extract, change directories, and make run
  • Play with the code!
  • You need Banshee 1.4 and Mono 1.9 or better (I opted to use C# 3.0 in the example)

Internet Radio

We made a decision early on in the 1.x series to provide very strong Last.FM support. We're fairly resource constrained, so this meant making traditional Internet Radio something of a second class citizen. In fact, I made a choice to not ship any default radio stations because really I should not be the one picking stations, and so many of them fall offline in the life cycle of a distribution iteration that supporting this is silly.

However, I made sure all the underlying pieces for good Internet Radio support were in place. We have a station editor, stream metadata is reflected in the UI so when playing a stream you can see "track changes" which in turn can trigger cover art, and the RadioTrackInfo object even handles fetching and parsing of remote station playlsits. We support M3U, PLS, ASX, and XSPF formats, and possibly some others I am forgetting.

The Radio source that ships by default is a bit bare in terms of UI, but this was intentional. You can add new stations and manage them, but we really need something like StreamTuner or Shoutcast, like Jono says, that builds on the Internet Radio core features. Implementing new sources is fairly straightforward. You can even extend the existing Radio source to build on it.

Implementing this would be a great standalone extension that I would love to ultimately roll back into core, maybe for 1.6 if an enthusiastic contributor steps up to the plate.

So what are you waiting for?

Join the community of enthusiastic Banshee contributors and write something great today. We have a large and functional API, lots of features to build on, and everything is designed around extensibility.

Such a large API can be daunting to learn, yes, but Banshee is also organized very well. We also have API documentation for Monodoc, and probably the best way to learn about Banshee's internals is to just read the source to the extensions we ship in core. All the great features in Banshee are just extensions!

Lastly, don't hesitate to stop by on the IRC channel asking for help!