[theora-dev] It's quiet. TOO quiet.

emaillist+ot at dogphilosophy.net emaillist+ot at dogphilosophy.net
Wed Jan 29 18:28:52 PST 2003

On Tuesday 28 January 2003 08:10 am, Dan Miller wrote:
> [...]there's been very little update on the www.theora.org page, or relevant
> info at xiph.org.
> One decision I am aware of that should have been broadcast but hasn't been
> yet for some reason, is that Alpha 2 is going to be merged into the initial
> Beta release, still scheduled for late March.  The feeling was that there
> simply weren't enough important changes to provide another release.

My main complaint is that Xiph doesn't appear to feel that Theora is
worth attention.  (Emphasis on APPEAR).  Evidently, we've gone from a 
press release 4 months ago saying "we have Big Plans for Alpha 2" to "not
enough important changes to bother with another release"...with total silence
on what the plans are or were or will be...

Again, I want to emphasize that I've got no misgivings at all that Xiph in 
general and Monty in particular is capable of producing top-quality results
at some point - Vorbis 1.0 and Theora Alpha 1 are proof of capability.  My
complaint is entirely around the "feel" I get that Xiph either doesn't seem
to think anyone cares or, possibly, that they don't want anyone to know what
they've got planned.  (The latter isn't necessarily "sinister" - I could 
imagine that they might want to avoid attracting a whole bunch of people who
want to tell them that their plans are all wrong and they should do it THIS
way instead and so on...)

There have been a number of questions, both specific and general, posted over
the last few months asking about the direction of Theora, features planned, 
release schedules if any, etc. but the only ones that seem to get any response
are the ones regarding Windows Media Player...

> I know Monty is working hard on the changes necessary to get libogg+theora
> to work nicely (perhaps even really well).  I am working on the bitstream
> specification for the video compression stream ('Theora' proper, ie the
> video codec).  Until this work is done, we feel there is little to be
> gained by encouraging large-scale adoption of what is necessarily a work in
> progress.

I don't see that a bit of occasional news about current development would
encourage large-scale adoption.

I'm pretty sure that most people still watching the project feel that Ogg
Theora is Xiph's project, and are not planning on jumping in to try to hijack
development before Alpha 2/Beta 1 comes out, nor even after, for that matter. 
On the other hand, development news might keep potential contributors
interested until the code appears at a stage where they can effectively, as
the Theora.org website suggests, "grab the codebase, and hack away!".

Even vague semi-regular news of the project would keep its visibility up
substantially (and might, for example, prompt a few companies working on 
standalone players at least plan on adding support for Ogg Theora when
it's available, rather than ignoring it entirely and having to be pestered
into considering support years later when they redesign (which I get the
impression [possibly false] has been a big problem getting momentum
towards Ogg Vorbis on music players...).

Of course, when someone complains that an open-source project doesn't
have such-and-such a feature that the developers aren't interested in or
don't have time to work on, the usual response is "The code's open, add it
yourself".  In my case, the "feature" I'm looking for is news...and as I
posted months ago, I AM willing to "do it myself"...either as updates to
the mailing list, or to a web page, or a 1-900-OGTHEORA ($3.00 for first
minute, $1.00 for each minute thereafter...) number, or whatever.  Certainly,
if Monty has 2 hours to work on Ogg Theora, I'd much rather he do coding and
specification documentation rather than writing a page of news that says "Here
 are the cool things I want to do that'd probably be done by now if I wasn't
sitting here writing this stupid news thing instead."  On the other hand,
unless anyone wants Ogg Theora information obtained from the same sources that
Weekly World News and Miss Cleo use ("The Three of Stooges card indicates that
Monty's work has been delayed because the Loch Ness Monster ate Monty's
laptop...") there's not really much I can accomplish without some official
news, or at least official gossip and offhand comments.

While I'm writing here - I DO have a question for you, then, as the one
working on the Theora bitstream specification.  Will the Theora codec 
be directly usable in other container formats?  Or, the question I am
more specifically getting at, how difficult would it likely be if, say, 
the FFMpeg or MPlayer/Mencoder projects wanted to go ahead and add 
Theora encoding support into the existing container format(s) that they
use?  (Mencoder currently only produces .avi, as far as I know.)  From what
I can tell (which, admittedly, isn't all that much) there's not much of
anything that really needs to be done to the codec (other than, e.g. basic
optimization) at all, and all of the difficulty involved is simply getting
the specification and implementation off Theora in the Ogg file format
worked out, is this true?

Thanks for the reply...

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