Spotlight on a Banshee Feature

Tonight I popped a new CD into Banshee, hoping it would fetch the metadata from MusicBrainz. Unfortunately, there’s no entry for this album yet in MusicBrainz, so I was left with a track listing of “Unknown.” I was a little put off by the prospect of having to manually enter the metadata myself, but set to it anyway. Once the editor was open however, I was reminded again of why I spent so much time designing this dialog. There are still some minor things I’d like to improve, but for the most part I think it’s one of my favorite features, though it is somewhat of a shame when it becomes necessary to use.

Album Metadata Editing in Banshee
Watch the screencast! (Ogg/Theora video, 7.4MB)

Why is editing an album by hand so fast?

  • Enter the common information first
  • Synchronize the common fields across all the tracks
  • Enter the track names without having to use the mouse, click any buttons, lose focus, clear a field, etc. Enter the track name, press enter to move on to the next track and begin typing.
  • Save the edit

Also, I recently added undo support for each text entry field. If you make a mistake, just undo it. Key bindings are like they are everywhere – CTRL+Z for undo, CTRL+Y or CTRL+SHIFT+Z for redo.

So what’s missing? Just some obvious things:

  • Album art support – this actually mostly done in code, and has been for a long time. If someone wants to complete it, they have some free beers coming. I’m not entirely sure what’s missing, but I think it’s mostly UI related.
  • Submit to MusicBrainz – this would be slick. More beer for patch!

For anyone itching to know when the new model/view stuff is coming, I should point out that I have been taking a 2 week break to work on a couple of minor features/fixes releases. I will resume my work on the new stuff I wrote about a month ago in the coming week or so. Stay tuned.

Also, because I started merging the new work into trunk, I have been doing 0.13.x work on a totally non-obvious “branch” (that for some reason ended up under /tags, but I don’t feel concerned enough to move it). If trunk has seemed quiet lately, it’s because it has been! I would strongly recommend anyone who usually follows trunk to update their checkout to /banshee/tags/banshee/banshee-pre-ng-merge. Once I get back into working on trunk it will be messy and broken for a while. You have been warned! (But good times are ahead – and sooner than can be imagined!)

16 Replies to “Spotlight on a Banshee Feature”

  1. Enter the common information first

    Hmmm. Wouldn’t “genre”, “track count” and “year” be common too? From the looks of the dialogue flow they’re being counted as per-track.

    There’s also the issue of using iconography to indicate common fields when grouping them would eliminate the need.

    – Chris

  2. Have you thought about hooking into amazon web services? Freevo uses it to get metadata and cover art and I haven’t found a disc yet that wasn’t in there.

  3. @Chris: No, those fields are all common. Any field with the copy icon next to it is a common field. That is part of the design I struggled with – the flow of the fields make sense in one context (single track) but perhaps not in another. I would like to tweak the layout a bit when I have some time. What do you mean about “anti-leech”?

    @Karl: Yeah, I have an internal metadata service implementation that uses Amazon (and one for Rhapsody as well), but currently the CD stuff is not tied to that metadata stack as it goes through MB directly. Given that this CD is on Amazon, it would have helped :-).

  4. If I’m allowed to make a slight complaint, one thing I sort of miss from the dialog is some form of visual feedback when syncing fields across multiple files. Though I can’t really think of a good way to show it.

  5. Thanks for taking the time to work on these features. For some reason, there was an error recently with tags showing up with unprintable characters. I had about 200+ songs that were affected by the problem and banshee made it SO easy to quickly fix all fields in the songs.

    Here’s a screenshot of Banshee 0.11 (I think; Whatever is in Ubuntu Feisty)? The problem was actually fixed a little when I upgraded to svn trunk. Most of the unprintable characters were removed and all that was left was the unprintable stuff before and actual tag data.

    I’m still not sure if this is a banshee problem so I haven’t submitted a bug report.

  6. It would be nice to have an option to select the fields we like to apply over the tracks.

    use case:
    Lets say we have few albums from the same artist, but the spelling of their name doesn’t match which process to having few folder of the same artist in the library. e.g. Nirvana, nirvana and NIRVANA.

    In order to correct it now there is a need to alter each album separately. Wouldn’t it be nicer to select all the tracks, and in the dialog be able to apply only the artist name over the selected tracks, leaving the album name and year in tact.

  7. That is part of the design I struggled with – the flow of the fields make sense in one context (single track) but perhaps not in another

    Surely it doesn’t matter which order the fields are in for a single track? You’ve got to enter it all anyway. On the other hand, for albums, it’s important to enter all the common info first. I don’t even see why there’s this concept of having to “apply common info”; the only case I can think of where the artist wouldn’t be common to the album is where it’s a compilation, and there are other ways of working that (a differently-composed “compilation” window which has a different order).

    What do you mean about “anti-leech”?

    Trying to retrieve the file using GetRight on Windows yesterday (yeah, I know) resulted in GetRight grabbing an INDEX.HTM file with “this file is protected by Anti-Leech” in the title. Who knows. It’s working fine through wget on Solaris right now.

    – Chris

  8. does it possible for Banshee to change the folder/file name after I changed ID3 tag ?
    just like iTunes does.


  9. Also, just revisiting this to post it on a bug report (this seems to scratch an oft-encountered itch, Aaron!) and I’m hoping you subsequently added this release to MusicBrainz? ;)

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