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fre:ac development status update 11/2019 Print
Written by Robert   
Sunday, 01 December 2019 16:51

Hi all, unusually punctual, here is the November 2019 status update on fre:ac development. It has been an exciting month with lots of improvements and an important decision.

fre:ac 1.1 beta is coming

Feature development for fre:ac 1.1 has been completed. Yay! I currently plan a beta release for mid December (probably the 15th) and I'm currently preparing everything for that release.

Translators needed

Part of the preparations is to contact translators and ask for updates to existing translations. While many are already working on updating their translations for the beta, some were not reachable due to outdated mail adresses or are not available for doing translations any more.

This is where you can help! If you speak any of the languages marked as needing a new translator on this GitHub page or would like to contribute a completely new translation, please post a comment there or contact translations@freac.org to get involved with translating fre:ac. Any help is greatly appreciated!

I also set up a project on Crowdin, a community platform for collaboratively working on translations. Everybody can contribute translation updates or even just suggestions for improving individual translated strings there. So have a look at the fre:ac project page on Crowdin to see where you can help.

Logging support

Support for creating log files was the last feature planned but still missing for fre:ac 1.1. It has been completed and pushed to the code repository in mid November, paving the way for the upcoming beta release.

New versions of fre:ac will now create log files of conversions in a dedicated logging folder, keeping them for 30 days by default. You can also choose to have conversion logs stored with the resulting audio files and there is an option to do this only for CD ripping jobs.

The log files contain a header with some general system information like the operating system, processor and CD drive used, followed by a detailed log of all file actions during the conversion process as well as verification results if applicable.

Keyboard input fixes

Two issues with keyboard input have been fixed in the past weeks, affecting mostly users of non-English keyboard layouts. The first one being an issue writing accented characters (using a dead accent key followed by a character key) on Linux after switching the keyboard layout. In some cases it could happen that fre:ac omitted the accent in this situation and recorded only the plain character (so ´ + a would not result in á, but print just a).

The second issue affected keyboard layouts that use AltGr+A,C,V,X,Y or Z to write diacritic characters. A notable example is the Polish layout which uses AltGr+A for the ą character and AltGr+Z for ż. These key combinations led to executing the Select all and Undo commands respecively before writing the character on all systems except macOS (which uses an extra command key for performing clipboard actions).

Both issues have been fixed now.

Smaller changes and improvements

There have been some smaller changes and improvements last month as well:

  • SuperFast mode enabled by default
    The SuperFast mode discussed in several posts here earlier now got enough testing to be enabled by default for the upcoming beta. This can speed up conversions to MP3, AAC, Opus and Speex significantly, especially when doing output to a single file or converting less files than your system has CPU cores.
  • Support for 32 bit content in Monkey's Audio files
    The Monkey's Audio (APE) codec recently got updated to support 32 bit content (it was limited to 24 bit sample resolution before). fre:ac now recognizes this and allows encoding Monkey's Audio files with 32 bit resolution.

Bug fixes

Apart from the mentioned improvements, some bugs have been fixed too:

  • Fixed drag & drop on macOS
    Drag & drop support on macOS has always been a bit unreliable with fre:ac. Fortunately, I now identified the reason and was able to fix it quickly. Unlike other OS', macOS does not send mouse position updates when in drag & drop mode. Because of this, fre:ac often had the wrong position for the drop action which in many cases lead to the action being ignored.
  • Fixed conversion of long files with external decoders
    There was a bug with converting long running files that need an external decoder, such as AC-3. As soon as the internal decoded representation of such a file exceeded 4 GB, fre:ac would no longer show the file's duration nor any progress during conversion and pop up an error message at the end of the conversion process even though the file had been converted properly. This is all fixed now.
  • Stability fixes for Haiku
    The Haiku operating system, unlike most other OS', has a multi-threaded UI system. This led to some instabilities when running fre:ac on Haiku due to missing synchronization between UI threads in a few places. The next release should fix this and run much more stable on Haiku.

The upcoming fre:ac 1.1 beta will ship with all these fixes.

Other notes

Two features already discussed in the August and May updates respectively have been committed to the code base now:

  • Dark mode support for macOS
    This has taken escpecially long to finish as it required a total overhaul of fre:ac's macOS UI code as well as a new synchronization mechanism to avoid lock ups. The latter should improve stability on non-Apple systems too. Everything is done now, so you will be able to enjoy the upcoming fre:ac 1.1 beta in dark mode on macOS.
  • Support for using the iTunes store app's AAC encoder
    This was already announced in May, but only pushed to the code base in November as finalizing dark mode support had a higher priority, but this feature needed some compatibility improvements in order to work on all computers.

That's it for this month's issue. Be sure to come back mid December for the fre:ac 1.1 beta and in January for the next development update.