(EDITS: I made a couple of quick additions to this post. Turns out there is at least one person who cares whether I try out this plugin again, and it’s the developer. One nice thing I can definitely say about the plugin is that the developer has always been pretty engaged with the plugin’s users. I vaguely recall having some communication with him online half-a-decade ago when I first started looking into the plugin. See the comments on the post…)

I actually installed the “Blubrry Powerpress” plugin on here way back at the beginning when I noticed it had some (at the time) rudimentary .ogg [vorbis] audio support. I played with it a little and then never did much with it. (EDIT for clarity: this was almost half-a-decade ago – back in August 2010. If you go all the way back to that first audio post [the “TuberculosisBurgers” episode of “Stir-Fried Stochasticity”], that one was posted via the “Blubrry PowerPress” plugin. Quite a bit of development has gone on with the plugin since them but I’ve not gotten around to trying to use it again since…yet.)

Since I’m switching to .opus for everything anyway, I’d been thinking about just removing the plugin (after I go back and find the one or two posts I made using it, to fix them to not require it), but I just noticed that the new 6.0 version has finally added support for .opus, according to a line buried in the changelog.

Still not sure if I’ll keep it and try it out some more or just purge it. The homepage for blubrry.com has adopted a style that looks like a child produced by Windows 8 and an iPod advertisement after a drug-fuelled orgy. Ick. Big flat ugly blocks of text and bland graphics, and almost “mystery-meat navigation”. If that’s indicative of where the plugin is heading, I should probably just purge it (I get the impression that the plugin is more focussed on iTunes™ and “Search Engine Optimization” than any other features, but I’m not really concerned about Apple’s mandates on this blog) (EDIT:What I’m getting at here is that it’s not clear how much of the plugin I’ll actually get any use from if I’m not on iTunes, essentially. Is it going to be like having Microsoft Excel installed when I only need to do some basic math?).

(Another post-posting edit for clarity: the “dumbed-down-to-an-iTunes-ad” interface that Windows 8 went all in for is the second-worst trend in the name of “mobile-friendliness” in my personal opinion – second only to websites that now pop up as a giant background graphic filling the screen, which you then have to scroll down past to actually see the “content” you clicked on the link to get to in the first place…and keep scrolling because it’s giant “easy-reader” text, I assume so it’s legible on tiny phone screens. Yes, I’m looking at YOU, medium.com, among others. The only concern related to the plugin is that it suggests a doubling-down on iTunes-and-other-proprietary-services-related features and a moving away from the simple self-hosting I’m interested in as development goes on.)

Since the closest thing to a formal “New Year’s Resolution” is to do a lot more web audio production, I could probably use the plugin, but I certainly don’t NEED it. I’ll consider it while I work on getting some audio produced.

Does anybody still reading this have an opinion either way?

This content is published under the Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

14 Comments

  1. Angelo Mandato says:

    Using Google Chrome Google Chrome 39.0.2171.95 Windows Windows NT

    I am the plugin developer. Why don’t you email me and tell me what you want. I’m listening.

    We supported ogg/oga/ogv and webm years ago. In September thebugcast requested we add Opus audio so we added it.

    Keep in mind that the version of the getid3 library we use to detect the duration of the audio from my tests was not detecting the duration information of the test opus file I have. If you have new opus files I can test with, please contact me, I would like permission to test with them.

    I will pass on your comments about the design of the blubrry.com site to our creative director.

  2. epicanis says:

    Using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 36.0 Linux Linux

    Hello, thanks for stopping by and commenting! The fact that you obviously read the post means that my traffic is at least 50% higher than usual today. :-)

    (Okay, I’m not sure if that’s true, I actually haven’t checked to see how many people actually read my posts here, but I’ve been assuming that it’s just a few.)

    I may email later (PowerPress might make a good topic for a Hacker Public Radio episode, come to think of it, so I could use some more information), but just in case the two or so other people who might eventually read this are also interested, I’ll comment here some, too.

    Bear in mind that it was about half a decade ago or more that I started playing with PowerPress. I vaguely recall that I tried it specifically because of the very few podcasting plugins that supported “legally-free” media (ogg vorbis files, at the time), Blubrry Powerpress looked like the most well-developed one, and I’m pretty sure it was definitely the most-well-developed one that was actually released under a legally-free license (which seems not to be mentioned anywhere that I noticed except in the plugin’s .php source itself, but it is important to me). The other main appeal at the time was that PowerPress could handle automatic fallback to a “flash” browser plugin for non-HTML5 browsers, though this is not nearly as necessary these days, thankfully.

    My also-vague recollection of the support for .ogg was that it felt back then like it was little more than “one more media format we support” rather than something Blubrry was really “interested” in. I don’t know if it’ll still feel like that to me now, nearly 5 years and I think 3 or so major version upgrades to the plugin later since I last made a post with it. Even then it wouldn’t matter, except I’d worry that support for self-hosting “legally-free” media might languish at the level of minimal support while development ends up focussing on integration with iTunes or perhaps Google Play or other proprietary services. Some other plugin might then end up with a more attractive feature set for me, but migrating to this hypothetical new plugin from PowerPress seems like it probably wouldn’t be simple. (tl;dr: I worry a little that I could get invested in PowerPress and later find its development priorities aren’t optimal for me, making a bunch of hassle for me to eventually migrate to something else).

    That’s obviously speculative given that I haven’t actively tried using recent versions yet, of course.

    getid3 has definitely been an issue – owncloud’s “music” add-on uses it as well and hasn’t supported .opus for the same reason. The good news is that a couple of weeks ago (Just AFTER Powerpress 6.0 went into Beta, I think) getid3 version 1.99 was released, and .opus (“OggOpus”) support is the very first “major new feature” listed in the changelog, which I just discovered today! Assuming it’s not buggy, I’m guessing just updating the getid3 components should fix everything.

    I can still gladly provide .opus files for you to test with if you’d like. A good one to test with might be the one linked from here, which includes a substantially-more-comprehensive-than-typical set of valid metadata (if there are any serious metadata handling bugs, I’d expect this file to reveal them…).

    Aside from my general personal dislike of the “McDonalds Cash Register” look, the main reason for bringing up the blubrry.com site design is just that having an iTunes-heavy emphasis with a Windows Phone 8 website makes me question whether I’m REALLY the target audience for this plugin… :-)

  3. Angelo Mandato says:

    Using Google Chrome Google Chrome 39.0.2171.95 Windows Windows NT

    BTW your blog is setup to send pingbacks, that’s how I found out about your blog post.

    PowerPress 6.0.1 will be shipped with 1.99, I need to update it because 1.98 does not support PHP 5.2. Can you believe there are still folks running PHP 5.2? But that’s how it goes, it’s not easy trying to make everyone happy, but we try.

    If you can email me a opus file to test with, when I update getid3 this weekend I can test with it and hopefully report good news.

    I should point out though that you can technically enter anything into the media URL field, but if WordPress (then PowerPress) cannot figure out the content type then it doesn’t know what the content type to use in the feed. opus is not even listed in WordPress’s wp_get_mime_types() function, you may want to open a trac ticket with WordPress to let them know they need to add opus with content type “audio/ogg”. opus is now in PowerPress (not the first time we got a format before WordPress), but if you want support for opus without PowerPress then you will want to get WordPress on board as well.

  4. Angelo Mandato says:

    Using Google Chrome Google Chrome 39.0.2171.95 Windows Windows NT

    BTW if you’re ok with me using http://hpr.dogphilosophy.net/audio/hpr1393.opus then I’ll use is. Thanks!

  5. epicanis says:

    Using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 36.0 Linux Linux

    You’re welcome to use any .opus file I’ve posted here or at hpr.dogphilosophy.net (including that one), let me know how it works (and if you have any problems with any of them)! I also have one or two uploaded to http://opuscast.com. Everything should be CC-BY-SA or an even more abusable license/public domain, so help yourself!

    I honestly hadn’t noticed whether wordpress itself supported .opus – I’ve been just sticking them in an /audio directory on my server and sticking links and <audio><source src="(whatever)" type="audio/ogg;codecs=opus"></audio> into my posts by hand (really easy, which is one reason I hadn’t gotten around to trying PowerPress again – doing it by hand wasn’t enough of a hassle yet :-) )

  6. Angelo Mandato says:

    Using Google Chrome Google Chrome 39.0.2171.95 Windows Windows NT

    Adding by hand bypasses the need for a tool to check the content type and duration information!

    I am curious to know if any Linux based podcatchers use the itunes tags. Specifically the itunes:duration tag. This tells the podcatcher how long in hh:mm:ss the recording is. Hopefully they are but I know some developers will not read those tags assuming they are for iTunes only. It is useful meta data that otherwise is not available without downloading the media file first.

  7. Angelo Mandato says:

    Using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 34.0 Windows Windows NT

    Didn’t forget about this, been slammed. Will be testing getid3 1.99 with PowerPress and your opus file sometime this week.

  8. epicanis says:

    Using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 35.0 Linux Linux

    No problem – I’m juggling a lot of things here, too. I’m wondering what it would take to fix MediaGoblin to handle flac and opus files for a sound-effects library or if I’d be better off just writing my own in PHP now that getID3 should support every format I need, and needing to do some testing on my new microphone…

    I don’t know of any non-iTunes feed-readers that use itunes tags, but I’ve admittedly got a pretty utilitarian approach to such things. (On my laptops, I’m just using Akregator. On my phone, Antennapod.) Some quick searching doesn’t seem to turn up anything, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
    I did spot a reference to a more standard proposal for such things in RSS and Atom feeds, though I have no idea if anybody is using it (“Yahoo!” might be, at least, as some portion of that proposal appears to be from “Yahoo Media”).

    What would an itunes duration tag accomplish that simply printing a human-readable duration in text in the feed wouldn’t? (An embedded feed-reader shouldn’t have any use for the information until it starts downloading the media to play anyway, at which point the duration should be right in the first packet or two of data with the rest of the metadata for most formats, shouldn’t it [except maybe Matroska?])?

  9. Angelo Mandato says:

    Using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 35.0 Windows Windows NT

    The situations that warrant the duration are dwindling, but a year ago I determined which podcasts to download while boarding an airport based on how long they were, I used the information to determine which to download first. That was the last time though I looked at the info before downloading a podcast, but a good example never the less.

    The episode you shared with me has a VBR. I crafted special code in PowerPress to get the duration information simply by downloading the headers of the file and then calculating the duration based on the remaining file size. Do you happen to have a constant bit rate version I can test with?

    It may be that a VBR is perfectly fine for opus, but it means with the logic that is in getid3 library now, the entire file needs to be downloaded to properly calculate the duration. Not a big deal for 5-10MB files, but when they get into the 100MB+ size PowerPress may still not be able to detect these durations as quick as it can detect duration from constant bit rate audio file.

  10. epicanis says:

    Using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 35.0 Linux Linux

    I don’t CURRENTLY have a CBR file, but I can make one pretty quickly – opusenc does have a “hard-cbr” mode. I’ll whip one up and post it where you can get it (watch this space…should just be a little while).

    I was under the impression that VBR was generally always preferred these days (even for MP3) – are there still a lot of people using CBR-encoded audio?

    (Obviously there are a lot of use-cases outside of my own e.g. for people who have actual audiences… I’ve been sitting here wondering why you care about getting the file while I assume people are uploading the media files to the server anyway, and finally realizing that some people are probably putting the media files on some OTHER server besides the one they’re running powerpress on. One of these days maybe I’ll have thousands of people rushing to download every audio release from me as soon as it’s posted as if I was a real podcaster, and I’ll be wanting to do that too…Sometimes I’m a little slow.)

  11. epicanis says:

    Using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 35.0 Linux Linux

    Okay, I’ve got a 64kbps CBR opus of the same file at http://dogphilosophy.net/hpr1393CBR.opus – It SHOULD be correct with all the same metadata. Let me know if it gives you any trouble!

  12. Angelo Mandato says:

    Using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 35.0 Windows Windows NT

    Thanks for the CBR file!

    It appears opus file needs to be completely downloaded in order to calculate the duration with the getid3 library currently. I’m working with the latest version of getid3 library to trace the source to figure out why this is, as the other formats all you need is the header information and the knowledge that it’s a CBR then it’s just a formula to calculate duration based on the file size. Sorry this is not a faster process, but I’m getting there slowly.

  13. epicanis says:

    Using Android Browser Android Browser

    No problem, I figured you were still busy with stuff there.

    I wouldn’t worry to much about it myself, since I doubt anybody is actually going to be using CBR opus “in the wild”, especially for non-“live-streaming” applications. I gather CBR outside of mp3 is really only for some specialized use-cases (and for MP3, purely for compatibility with really ancient playback hardware and software, or possibly to avoid trespassing on still-active variable-bit-rate-encoding patents), as far as I can tell.

  14. Angelo Mandato says:

    Using Google Chrome Google Chrome 42.0.2311.90 Windows Windows NT

    The good news is that opus is supported in PowerPress, both verifying the URLs and also with the player, the only snag still is with detecting the duration.

Leave a Reply