Only a few months overdue, we've finally released a new stable Banshee. This release includes a slew of important bug fixes and a handful of new features.
On the iPod side of things, there have been some pretty heavy changes since the last release. We now require PodSleuth and the latest ipod-sharp. This is the first release that drops libipoddevice, the hardware layer that was obsoleted by PodSleuth.
What users should care about is that this release supports the new Nano and Classic iPods. We currently are not supporting the iPod Touch nor the iPhone. Of course, my personal stance towards any iPod, especially the iPod Touch and the iPhone is to simply avoid the hardware and the lock-in that goes with it.
The biggest new feature users will notice is the Last.fm streaming plugin that Gabriel Burt wrote a few months ago. This plugin allows you to listen to Last.fm radio stations with all the love/ban glory expected from Last.fm clients.
We have opted to disable this plugin at runtime by default for now, but it is built by default and can easily be enabled through the plugins dialog. Gabriel has blogged in detail about this awesome new plugin.
Album Track Editing... now even easier... again
A couple of months ago I found myself in the position, yet again, of wanting to import a CD that didn't have metadata in MusicBrainz. I have blogged about the excellent track editor in Banshee before, but I continue to want to improve it. Editing an entire album's metadata can be a tedious task, but I think I have greatly simplified it yet again.
Now you can select a table or list (from a web site, for example) of track names for the album you are editing and paste the entire selection into the first "Title" field in the track editor. The selection will be parsed and applied to all of the tracks in the editor.
For example, I went to Amazon.com, found the album, selected all of the tracks, and pasted it into the first title entry in the Banshee track editor. I didn't have to type any of the titles on the CD. I created a screencast of the entire process of filling in all of the album metadata manually. Slick, though it's still of course always better if the metadata can be found in the first place via MusicBrainz.
With metadata on the mind, I should note that Banshee's metadata services stack is very versatile and allows for any number of metadata providers. We have a few, including MusicBrainz, Rhapsody, and Amazon. However, the Amazon provider does not fetch metadata, it just downloads cover art (and same applies for the Rhapsody one). It would be really nice if someone provided a full Amazon provider (or Rhapsody) that used their web services API.
The problem with this however, for Amazon, is that it requires a developer key (at least it did in years past), and this is why we have never invested time into implementing one. Instead we just rely on MusicBrainz, and perform cover art downloads from Amazon if the MusicBrainz metadata has an associated ASIN.
Ugh, this song sucks!
Another minor little feature users may notice is a new "Play next song" button that shows up in the notification area bubbles. It's quite nice when you're listening to music in the background and a song you hate starts playing. Easy to skip without switching interfaces. Of course, if you have multimedia keys set up, I suppose that's even easier.
Notification bubble allows skipping songs!
Alan McGovern has nearly completely rewritten our MTP support and we are close to enabling it by default. The next release should have solid MTP support, and we hope to roll 0.13.3 within the next two weeks. The new MTP support uses libmtp instead of libgphoto2. This decision was made for a number of reasons, though I am really not informed enough to convey them properly. Alan has blogged a bit about his changes and his reasons for switching libraries.
We encourage users to try the new MTP support in this release, but we do not want to see distributions packaging it at this time. To enable MTP support from source, pass
--enable-mtp to configure. There are a handful of known issues with many MTP devices, and these will be addressed in 0.13.3. Nevertheless, we wanted to get something out the door.
I blogged about my new Mono.Zeroconf library a few weeks ago, and this release of Banshee is the first to require it. It greatly simplifies zeroconf logic inside Banshee itself by allowing us to target only one API instead of two (Bonjour and Avahi). Only the DAAP plugin uses it, so if you do not wish to install Mono.Zeroconf, pass
--disable-daap to configure.
Great, but what about the really cool stuff?
While 0.13.2 is a solid release with some exciting new features, the real goodies are in our unstable trunk. We have done a ton of work on trunk, rewriting Banshee nearly from the ground up. Performance improvements are massive, and we expect to have some sort of preview release out within the next two months. Now that we are winding down with this stable series, 0.13.2 is out the door, and winter holidays are over, we will be heads down on trunk, making great strides.
Expect lots of blogging in the coming months about details of trunk. In the mean time we have a high level roadmap that can be tracked. Stay tuned, because a lot of really exciting stuff is happening in the Banshee universe!