Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Songbird v0.3: API for media mashups

Category: Firefox, JavaScript

Brian Dillard has a great write-up about the newest release of Songbird, the Mozilla-based platform for building Web media mash-ups:

If you’ve yet to experience Songbird, a little background is in order. The project is run by Pioneers of the Inevitable, a Bay Area company founded by veterans of Winamp and the Yahoo! Music Engine. Building on Mozilla’s XULRunner platform and the VLC media player, Songbird aims to unite a web browser, a media jukebox and an online media player into a skinnable, extensible, open-source application. At this stage, the app is a long way from challenging the likes of Windows Media Player, let alone iTunes. But as it grows, it promises to cultivate the same kind of fervent user and developer communities as Firefox, Thunderbird and other Mozilla projects.

While Songbird has a desktop media player aspect to it, I think the biggest attraction to developers will be the rich JavaScript API which will allow you to build media mashups. Brian provided an interesting view of how he might leverage it:

As an Ajax developer and huge music nerd, I’m looking forward to playing with the JavaScript API. It promises seamless integration between webapps running in the Songbird browser and the media player itself. Imagine iTunes, but instead of a built-in browser that only supports the iTunes store, you’ve got a Firefox clone that plays well with music vendors, P2P networks, MP3 blogs and any other internet music resource

This looks to have huge potential and well worth investigating further. Brian said it best, “Why aren’t Ajax folks more geeked about “the Firefox of media players”?

Posted by Rey Bango at 12:49 pm

3.9 rating from 29 votes


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Thanks for posting this. More people definitely need to know about this project.

Comment by Michael — November 1, 2007

It’s a great project. The only reason, IMO, why it’s not more popular is the low version number and the slow (perceived) pace of development. It took forever to go from 0.2 to 0.3. By the time it hits 1.0 maybe the whole portable music craze will die out and be replaced by something even better.

Comment by Leo Lipelis — November 1, 2007

I have been looking forward to new versions of songbird, but it’s memory footprint keeps me away. Running it on windows, it uses over 80MB doing nothing at all. Much more than even itunes.

Comment by KenLin — November 1, 2007

Hi all,

Thanks for the coverage Ajaxian and Pathfinder!

Regarding Songbird development pace, the Songbird team is now 20+ full-time devs and and 1,800 registered community devs and testers so pace has ramped up considerably and will be much more evident now. Look for another release in December. =)

Regarding low version number, please don’t read too much into it. Most of the work remaining for the core team is feature parity and polish vis-a-vis modern players (e.g., iTunes, Winamp, etc.). We’re targeting a mid-2008 release for Songbird 1.0.

That is to say, the Songbird platform, specifically the Webpage API, is ready for Ajax-driven innovation now. The most compelling user utility and experiences will undoubtedly come from the Ajax community’s digital media services and player-Web mash-ups.

One ‘bird dev here @ Pioneers of the Inevitable ported Greasemonkey to Songbird in a few a hours. Another ‘bird dev then wrote a GM script that added an Amazon MP3 store buy button to the Web Playlist of any music blog. Indie MP3 music store and music blog aggregator The Hype Machine have already built simple, integrated player-Web user experiences using Songbird’s Webpage API.

See the Songbird Developer Center for Getting Started guides, example code and tech specs. We’d *Webpage API. Play the Web!

Rob Lord

Comment by Rob Lord — November 1, 2007

I’ve been using songbird for some time now and I quite like it.

This pre-release, however, seems much more unstable on my system than previous releases. I know it’s a pre-release, and I hope the release will be back to previous levels of stability. right now it’s just crashing (on Windows XP) whenever I try to access the library (and in some other various circumstances too).

Comment by Gonzalo — November 2, 2007

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