Is HelixPlayer still alive? [Update]

I wonder what the state of RealPlayer, HelixPlayer in generel, is. As you might now, the HelixPlayer or the RealPlayer in its current version, 1.0.something (or RealPlayer 10.0.x) was released in its first version almost three years (!) ago. As you can see in this list there have been minor updates but none of them is really important, judging from the changelog of the 1.0.8 release.

So for three years now nothing has been released in the player area. If you search the homepage for current development plans and roadmaps, you find for example the progress map for the Player version 2.x. Looks like last time someone did something in this area was 2005. Again, one and half year ago.

However, interesting in this case is that all plans are aiming for the Cayenne engine. To explain what Cayenne is: all HelixPlayers are powered by an underlying engine, called Helix DNA client. For HelixPlayer 1.x the engine was generation 1. The next generation engine, generation 2, is called Cayenne.

The Helix DNA client is also used in other devices – and it is actively developed. Not only was the development of Cayenne finished, the project page does already list the next generation of the Helix DNA client, Atlas. According to the plans it was supposed to be finished at the end of December 2006 – and it was only delayed to that date because they wanted to include Windows Media stuff. Also, the development of the next generation, generation 4, has already begun.

On the other side, the HelixPlayer is still based on generation 1.x (which does not even has ALSA support). The only information I was able to find, hidden somewhere in the developer lists, was that in August 2006 the idea was still to release a player based on Cayenne because it is stable and Atlas “was just finished” at that time. Also there seem to be x86_64 and FreeBSD ports going on, but in the first case there is not even an official announcement about the topic.

So the picture I draw with all these information is that the development is focused on the Helix DNA Client – and that the HelixPlayer development is down to occasional fixes, some ports, and the aim to release a player “sometime” in the future. Sounds like an almost dead future to me :/

There is nothing bad about that because the Helix Community can focus as they want – if you want to change it, join there team. Nevertheless, if they are not going to release a new (as in 2.x) version of the HelixPlayer in the close future, they should make this clear, and communicate it to the people who hope (and build on this hope) that there will be a new release.

So, if its dead, just say it. Than everyone else can mark the HelixPlayer support as “legacy” and concentrate on the task to integrate something else instead of waiting.
Or, if it is not dead: please release a roadmap or some bits of information about the close future.

But before someone starts acting or ranting now (against me or the helix developers): keep in mind that I took all these listed and linked information from the homepage and the e-mail lists – I drew my conclusions from these information. It is possible that I overlooked something, or missed an important bit – or that the homepage is just outdated because everyone is preparing the next HelixPlayer release (I wish it would be like that)!

Btw., I also tried to shed some light on this topic by contacting a developer of the team by e-mail some days ago (got his e-mail address from the devel-list), but he hasn’t answered yet (too busy maybe).

If he replies I will of course post the information here.

I wrote an e-mail to the devel list. Let’s see if someone has time to answer it.

7 thoughts on “Is HelixPlayer still alive? [Update]”

  1. You are right. Novell and Real were suppose to make a new version by the end of 2006 but nothing happened. They were suppose to add Microsoft Windows Media formats to Real Player and they even announced it officially.
    I was always wondering why didn’t they do so ? is there any body out there who can give us some inside information ? Thanks

  2. @Inhibit: I agree that we do not need the GUI – but I would like to have the backend, and afaik we need the helixplayer for that.

    The other possibility would be to take just the Helix DNA client which seems to grow prosper – but I never heard of anyone building it so it could be used as a backend.

    @Figo: Well, as I said, I wrote that e-mail. I hope a bit that some people with more inside knowledge read this. Or I will try to get on the e-mail lists to raise my concerns.

  3. Note that realplayer for Windows is apparently just as dead. It has also remained at version 10-something for a considerable number of years. My suspicion is that real has simply lost the Media Player Wars ™ on Windows and is thus sliding into obsolescence.

    Apart from that, since I discovered that mplayer, xine, amarok, totem, gxine and others have almost complete real media support, when they know where to find the real libraries, my need for an updates realplayer with proper alsa + dmix support has greatly declined.

  4. They shifted their main focus: the core part of the player is still under heavy development and is improved almost daily. It was released in several new generations since the first version which was shipped with RealPlayer 10.
    However, the focus is not on the PC anymore, not at all, but on mobile phones. 125 million installed players are quite large number.

  5. It’s still alive, RealPlayer 11 for Linux is available on the community site, look under current nightly builds.

    Features i’ve noticed:

    * Playlist
    * Bandwidth testing
    * Better technology for viewing streams

    It’s as alive as ever just not stable enough yet for an 11 release? Look at Solaris 10 how old is that? 😛

  6. Martyn, please be aware that this post is very old – there have been numerous newer posts about Helix Player, bug reports, my experiences with the nightly builds and so on.

    However, looking back now: when I raised the issue more than a year ago it was said that there will be a new release soon. Since nothing really happened in this regard I consider the Helix Player for Linux (!) as being almost irrelevant and possibly technically dead.

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