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

gtgbr at gmx.net gtgbr at gmx.net
Thu Jan 30 01:15:11 PST 2003

emaillist+ot at dogphilosophy.net wrote:
> 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...

... but it's been like that since the beginning of Xiph. Things happen
in waves ... you'll see, one morning you wake up and there is <Xiph
Product> (for example Theora) and it happens to rock more than you
imagined. It was never different, there's the brooding phase and the
cheering/communication phase (and it can be damn silent in Phase 1).
Btw, you're not the first to complain - search the vorbis@ archives. ;P

Currently, Theora is Xiph's most important project. (Emphasis on IS :) )

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

That is not, and never will be Xiph's goal. It's about providing a free
alternative, to develop cool stuff. One isn't dealing with PR/marketing
experts when it comes to Xiph indeed, you get to talk to skilled
engineers, who don't talk while they're busy.

It's on to friendly fans like us who need to do the PR for them ...
subscribe to the cvs at xiph.org mailing list to see the occasional source
commit (Monty committed some stuff to an own test branch
"libogg2-zerocopy" lately, for example), check out the other lists, lurk
on vorbis.com:6667/#vorbis ... once you squeezed out some facts
(emphasis on 'facts') about Xiph and validated them, it is *you* who can
help. Xiph.org is *not* a company that got millions from a venture
capitalist and is now traded on NASDAQ. Their marketing department is
talking to sponsors and contractors so they can continue to exist.

> 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

Don't you think that they want to see some working code first, before
they spend R+D on this subject? VP3 is known to the industry, but Theora
is not only different, at this point it is (from an external point of
view) 90% vaporware. Many might be interested, but there's no point in
pushing it while there's nothing to present besides, maybe, loads of
ingenious improvements to libogg2 where everyone who understands that
stuff might say "wow, this is excellent" ... but that's not quite what
the typical homeuser or the guy with the money for R+D projects in his
company likes to hear.

It's all different when the first beta comes out, imo, and that one
seems to be coming on-schedule. Then, early adopters can go ahead and
use it, because the format will be frozen and applications/ports to
other platforms than Linux start to make sense. Maybe even upwards
compatible decoders, like what RC2 was for Vorbis, can already exist
then ... who knows.

> 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...).

Not quite, as far as I understand this, the main problem is a Vorbis
decoder's RAM requirements... the average on today's portables appears
to be pretty close to 8 kilobytes, and that just doesn't cut it. Also
note that the R+D required to implement even something free like Tremor
costs quite a lot of money. The companies must understand that
supporting Vorbis can make them rich(er), because it's a cool format and
many use it.

I honestly don't understand why, if they support Vorbis, they bury this
fact somewhere in their FAQs instead of actually trying to sell more
because they support it. (Kiss-Tech., for example) It's almost as if
they fear to scare off customers by saying "Our product supports Ogg
Vorbis!" or so ... what could possibly happen? Those who know and like
it will think that this particular company is cool, and those who don't
either don't care or become interested, check it out and come to the
conclusion that Vorbis is cool and this particular company is cool
because they support it.

> laptop...") there's not really much I can accomplish without some official
> news, or at least official gossip and offhand comments.

Well, as I've written above, the sources for gossip are mainly IRC and
the cvs@ mailing list. On IRC you can talk to the Xiph staff, other
developers and users who all might have the one or other piece of
information that you didn't know about before. OT and the occasional
look at http://www.xiph.org/ogg/vorbis/hardware.html also helps (if
Vorbis-on-Hardware interests you).

> 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 totally lack the expertise to answer this other than by guessing, but
a good guess might be "when beta1 is out and/or shortly thereafter" -
anything alpha means that 3rd parties' efforts might be in vain when the
format changes... I wouldn't get too excited until then. The speed of
adoption also highly depends on these application's developers and users
interest, I suppose. Theora requires libogg2, so once that is done,
things might start to move on really fast.

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