More Phonon backends: VLC, MPlayer

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Tanguy Krotoff from the VLC project announced early April that he developed a working version of a VLC backend for Phonon. This is the first backend for Phonon which is reported to work on all three major platforms.

The announcement at the list kde-multimedia was done on 2. April. The current status is that there are still bugs, but the backend itself is already working. The project page has some screenshots.
Additionally, Tanguy also plans to develop a MPlayer backend soon.

Both developments show how flexible Phonon is – and how flexible KDE/Qt became by using Phonon. All together there are now five different backends available for Phonon: Xine, GStreamer, Quicktime, DirectShow and VLC. And I’m pretty certain that there will be more.
The advantages are actually twofold: if you are a application developer who wants to have general audio/video playback capabilities on more than one platform your natural choice is Qt. On the other hand, in case you want to develop a new audio+video engine it is absolutely no problem to bring it to the masses – just develop a Phonon backend. All interested users could switch their entire (!) general audio/video playback to your new engine without any problem. So the necessary evolution and competition of the engines can continue without that any KDE user would have to care.

Anyway, the new VLC backend has another advantage for many Linux users: VLC is often described as the most compatible video playback engine available. Actually most Windows users use it to view there videos. By using VLC as the backend Linux users make sure they can watch almost all video types available without the need to use a player which they are not used to.

I wonder how well the other technologies – Solid, Decibel, Akonadi – will do in the long term. Phonon already showed what it is worth, and I’m really looking forward to see how well for example Amarok will work together with Solid.

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4 thoughts on “More Phonon backends: VLC, MPlayer

  1. I for one am looking forward to seeing Akonadi evolve.

    It has the potential for accelerating KDE adoption in the business sector. And it will rock.

  2. I know it’s weird to make a blog request, but out of all the blogs on planet (other than the Dot), you seem to cover the most varied amount of topics. But, anyways, I was wondering if you would consider doing a blog entry on the available/up-and-coming/most promising video players for KDE4?

    The backends are great and all, but I’d love to see more of an in-depth review of video players. For instance, in KDE3.5, I’ve used Kaffeine consistently, mostly due to its awesome featureset. Both big and little things that affect user experience a lot; the playlist view, keyboard controls (big factor, for things like forwarding and rewinding or for volume control), the awesome and user friendly options screen it starts up with, and just overall consistency. It also had annoying things like awful subtitle handing with almost no configuration support, and generally lacking some config options I would’ve liked to see.

    I know Kaffeine’s doing a port for KDE4, with large rewrites to include more features and better code consistency, but that won’t be complete for a while. The only other real option I’m aware of is Dragon Player (which I believe used to be named Codeine?). When I tried Codeine in its KDE3.5 incarnation, it was nice, but lacking some features that would’ve improved the experience. I don’t really know how much has changed, aside from the gruesome new name. Much preferred Codeine.

    Anyhow, a lot of people don’t understand how important user experience is in an applications; I know it sounds silly, but a lot of people will just look at feature lists and think “wow, awesome, that sounds great,” but the way the features are implemented, how accessible and responsive they are, and other things that screenshots can’t show you, are really important as well. So, if you feel like it, such a review of Dragon Player (and other options if they exist) would be great. I personally would love some opinion on how the keyboard controls and DVD playback are.

    Keyboard controls; Forwarding/Rewinding, Pause, adjust volume, slow motion playback, and Next/Previous playlist item seem like the most needed things.

    DVD Playback; how is DVD navigation during playback? Is it all in a context menu? Is it easy to navigate or would it take a bit of guessing?

    Sorry if the request is a bit ludicrous; I could very well just install it and find out, but I would only do it in a VM (can’t stand a cluttered system), and I don’t really have enough hard drive space available for a VM at the moment.

  3. Wonderland, actually I wrote about the Mplayer backend in my post – was it not clear enough?

    maniacmusician: Requests are fine, it’s not the first one I got, and some of my posts are actually due to requests (not every developer is that much of a blogging person).
    The main problem for me is, however, that I do not have that much time atm because I’m in my final thesis. Additionally, I unfortunately don’t have a working KDE 4 environment yet. Yes, I know that sounds odd but due to my exam I was forced to keep my KDE 3 system.
    However, I will get new hardware soon – very good hardware, and with that machine I will post much more about real world KDE 4 usage – just like you asked for. Your suggestions already give me a good starting point, and I will try to fit such an article in. But, as I said, first I have to take care of my exams, so I can’t give you a promise when such a review will be ready. But thanks so far for the suggestions and the check-list, that’s very helpful :)

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