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fre:ac Developer Blog

Welcome to the fre:ac developer blog. I will post status updates and other information about fre:ac development here.

fre:ac development status update 01/2014 Print
Written by Robert   
Saturday, 25 January 2014 16:27

OS X version of fre:ac ripping the hidden track from Fall Out Boy - Folie à Deux.In the past three weeks I implemented the Core Audio encoder component. I'm already testing AAC and ALAC encoding and most of it is working really well. The new component will replace the FAAC encoder on systems where Core Audio is available. Unfortunately on Windows, Core Audio will only be supported in the 32 bit version of fre:ac as Apple does not provide 64 bit versions of the required Application Support DLLs yet. The 32 bit version will be able to make use of the new encoder if either iTunes or QuickTime is installed on your system.

Core Audio aside, I worked on some other areas as well. The OS X version of fre:ac now supports drag & drop, so you can drop files or folders on the main window to add them to the joblist. I'm still working to implement the same for the Linux version and expect it to be ready for the next snapshot.

I also added support for ripping audio hidden before the first track of some audio CDs. This is known as hidden track one audio or HTOA. fre:ac will show such hidden tracks when adding respective discs to the joblist. However, whether you can actually rip them depends on the capabilities of your drive. Some drives return only empty (silent) sectors when trying to rip such hidden tracks.

Furthermore, I made CD ripping work on OS X so you can finally rip if you are using fre:ac on a Mac. At this point, however, CD drives are detected only if a disc is inserted when starting fre:ac. This will probably change in the future.

The problems with the V8 JavaScript engine on OS X Leopard have been resolved as well. Turned out I simply had to compile it using GCC 4.2 instead of 4.0 for it to work. This means that the video downloader will be available on Intel Macs running Leopard starting with the next snapshot. PowerMac users will have to wait a little longer as baseline V8 does not support the PPC architecture yet. There is an IBM funded project to port it to these processors though. Their version just doesn't support OS X yet.

All of the changes I talked about are available in CVS now and I expect to be able to release a new snapshot in February or March.

fre:ac development status update 12/2013 Print
Written by Robert   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 19:59

After the 20131217 snapshot release I started making plans for the next snapshot, so here's what's planned for the next one.

The main new feature will be support for the Core Audio AAC and ALAC encoders on Windows and OS X. This will provide much higher quality AAC encoding compared to the currently used FAAC encoder. On Windows, however, you will need to have iTunes or QuickTime installed to enable Core Audio support in fre:ac. On OS X, Core Audio is part of the operating system, so the new encoders will always be available in fre:ac.

Some minor improvements on my list are support for ID3v2 chapters, drag & drop support on Linux and OS X and some more things that I will talk about later. All of these are optional for the next snapshot though, so I'm not sure if they will be implemented there or in a later one. I'll give you a status update on these in the next blog entry.

Power to the people! Print
Written by Robert   
Saturday, 21 December 2013 19:12

fre:ac running on a G4 PowerMac.Er, PowerPC that is. This summer I bought two G4 PowerBooks to try and port fre:ac to it. I ported it to OS X Leopard, tested for and eliminated any byte order dependencies, allowing fre:ac to run on the PowerPC's big endian architecture, and finally polished some rough edges.

So dust off your old PowerMac and try the latest fre:ac snapshot for OS X. It's a universal binary working on Intel and PowerPC Macs alike. You'll need OS X Leopard on your PowerMac for it to work. No video downloader on PowerPC (and Leopard in general) though, sorry. It will probably be available in a future snapshot.

fre:ac development status update 11/2013 Print
Written by Robert   
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 19:59

I just finished implementing all features planned for the next fre:ac snapshot. The next two or three weeks will be used for stability testing and packaging so the release is expected to happen around mid November early December. Here's what you can expect from the next snapshot:

  • Support for OS X Leopard and running without XQuartz on OS X.
  • Support for opening virtual CD track AIFF files on OS X.
  • A slider for seeking and to indicate position during playback.
  • Support for querying the MusicBrainz database using their freedb gateway.
  • Support for the VisualOn and Fraunhofer AAC encoders.
  • Support for running on Linux on ARM processors.
  • Fixed CD ripping issues on Linux.
  • Improved stability and reliability on all platforms.
  • Dozens of fixes and minor improvements.

Several problems have been identified and fixed thanks to Coverity Scan. That's an online service offering free static source code analysis for Open Source projects. Coverity Scan originally found 123 issues in fre:ac's code. About one third of them were false positives, but 84 potential bugs that are fixed in the upcoming snapshot. A handful of those defects had a high possibility of crashing fre:ac during normal use. I'd definitely recommend Coverity Scan to every Open Source project. It's free and a great help in improving a project's code quality.

Getting rid of the X Print
Written by Robert   
Saturday, 14 September 2013 19:12

fre:ac running on OS X without XQuartzIt's been a while since the 20130430 snapshot release and even more since my last post here, so here's an update on fre:ac development.

I have been working several weeks to try and make fre:ac run on OS X without an X server. The screenshot to the right shows fre:ac running on Snow Leopard without XQuartz.

Making this work meant implementing the smooth Class Library window and graphics backends on top of Cocoa. This was a lot more work than porting the original Win32 code to Xlib and Cairo back then. The Cocoa API is just so much different from any other user interface API I've come across before. Because of that it sometimes was difficult to map smooth calls to Cocoa and vice versa.

However, I'm making good progress on this now and think about 75% of the work is done at this point. It seems save to say that native Cocoa support will be available in the next fre:ac snapshot.

fre:ac video tutorial at Print
Written by Robert   
Friday, 02 March 2012 01:12

The folks at notified me that they made a Quick Look Video of fre:ac. The first part of it shows the menus while the second is actually a quick tutorial on how to rip and convert using fre:ac. I had a look and really liked it; the video is here. Scroll down a bit to get to the actual review with the video embedded at the right.

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