[Vorbis-dev] Proposal: An extension to rules all others

Ian Malone ibmalone at gmail.com
Mon Jan 15 15:27:12 PST 2007

(Ah... followups to ogg-dev...)

(I've got a couple of tiny comments but they're not important,
they do however tie into my main point at the bottom.)

Ivo Emanuel Gonçalves wrote:
> Proposal: An extension to rules all others
> Copyright Notice
> None.  Public Domain.
> There isn't one problem here; there's several.  The person described
> above may be a blogger, but he has no idea what Speex is.  The person

Rather kind to ascribe technological competence simply because the
person is a blogger...

> above may have an iPod, and s/he won't care much for any audio format
> other than MP3.  S/he won't bother to look for a hardware player with
> support for other audio formats, and more importantly, s/he won't even
> bother consider nagging Apple about adding support for other formats.

There is a point of view that Apple is quite bent on preventing uptake
of other formats.

<snip explanation of the problems caused by one extension combined
with poor support for shared extensions>

> I propose that each project (Vorbis, Speex, etc.) states in its
> specification two file extensions, and those two extensions are to be
> the only ones allowed for that given format.  Implementators are
> supposed to support both extensions.  Content creators are supposed to
> choose one of them according to whatever criteria they care about.

Part of the problem you describe is in implementation, so I suspect
that you can't really rely on implementors.

> Are there arguments against this?  Of course there are.
> One might say that .avi is always .avi even though it might be MPEG 1,
> XviD, DivX, or anything else.  Yet, you forget that .avi is ALWAYS for
> video, so most software won't complain when they see an .avi file
> (except for WMP that complains for everything).  The worst that may
> happen is for the software to ask the user for the appropriate codecs.
> This doesn't happen with .ogg, though, because the Ogg container
> might be used for so many different purposes that programs don't have
> an uniform way of dealing with .ogg.
> Matroska, for instance, specifies .mkv for video/video+audio, and .mka
> for audio.  This may not be the greatest approach ever, but it works
> in real life, and that's what we should aim for.

See <http://xiph.org/minutes/2006/10/200610_meeting.txt>, there doesn't
really seem to be any resistance to doing something, the question is
really what.

<Okay, next bit is long, leaving it in for context>
> And yet, there's further opposition?  Some may say "extensions don't
> matter", but they forget this is a computer world ruled by MS Windows,
> where the average user is not smart enough to know what's wrong when
> the video or audio file s/he downloaded won't work.  Extensions are
> needed.  Anyone ever saw the UNIX "file" command trying to guess what
> type a file is?  Extensions are needed.
> Now, assuming you guys dig what I say, there's another problem.
> Choose a new extension for your project, say .vorbis for Vorbis and we
> all know what happens.  Existing software will stop playing older
> Vorbis streams using the .ogg extension.  The solution as I mentioned
> above is to allow two extensions, no more, nor less.
> Example: .ogg as default, .vorbis as secondary.
> OK, but that's for Vorbis.  Why should FLAC or Speex care?  Because of
> consistency.  If we want to move Ogg away from the misunderstanding
> that it's Vorbis only (the "OGG"), we have to allow .ogg to be used on
> FLAC and Speex files.  And because of correctness.  If we want unity
> between our projects, we have to allow .ogg to be used on FLAC and
> Speex files.
> So, this is what I suggest:
> Vorbis: .ogg & .vorbis
> Theora: .ogg & .theora (or .video as I've seen suggested several times)
> FLAC: .ogg & .flac (yes, I'm fully aware that FLAC can exist without
> Ogg, but it's about unity)
> Speex: .ogg & .spx
> OggPCM: .ogg & .oggpcm
> OggUVS: .ogg & .ogguvs
> For mixed content of other kinds, like Writ, or crazy combinations of
> the above, or external codecs (MPEG 4, whatever), one has accept the
> default .ogg only, because it's not possible to state an extension for
> every possible use of Ogg.  The idea is to allow dual extension on the
> most important projects under Xiph.
> Notice that most of the suggested extensions are outside 8.3
> limitations.  It's 2007; we do not need to worry about this anymore.
> That list is a suggestion, and this you are reading is a proposal.
> It's up for each maintainer to decide if it's viable, or not, but I
> ask you to consider it.
> This proposal isn't only philosophical.  It's about making life easier
> for end-users and to tell software that if it supports Speex, then it
> needs to look in the current directory for both .ogg and .spx files as
> source for Speex streams.
> Extensions are meaningless, and .avi sure as hell isn't just "Video
> for Windows", so let's make it clear what extensions are allowed for
> the different projects under Xiph, even if it's crazy talk.

First, there is apparently a new version of MS DOS coming out shortly,
does anyone know if it is any more sensible than it's predecessors?
It may be worth finding out.  Do Macs care?  I don't believe Linux
does, so it's Windows that's the problem (and it is a big problem,
market share and all that), but Windows is Windows Media Player, so
if that has caught up with the rest of the world there's less need to

Secondly, it's become increasingly clear that end users are less
computer literate (yes more people can type, but a decreasing
proportion understand how their computers work, maybe I should say
the quality of copmuter literacy is decreasing).  They don't care
about technologies (or people wouldn't use iPods), what they do
care about is branding.  I immediately thought about being flippant
and suggesting .mp3 for Ogg containing audio only and .avi for
Ogg containing .avi, making it the WMP's problem.  But, that would
make Xiph the bad guys...

However there's something to this idea; it recognises the recognition
that .avi and .mp3 posses (having recently had to load someone's iPod
for them I suspect there may be quite a few people using iPods
thinking that mp3 is aac).  So what about:
.music (Vorbis)
.video (Theora + audio)
.voice (Speex)
.music-perfect + .voice-perfect (FLAC & PCM)
.video-perfect (Lossless video codecs + audio)?

I really am serious.  They're unused (AFAIK), they tell you about
content.  If people start trying to call other things .music (or
similar), then they'll run into any extension problems, and if
MS suddenly find people whose mp3, wma etc. isn't working
complaining they are more likely to try and do something about that
than they have been to act on Ogg.

The downside is losing the Ogg/codec branding, though I think this
is more important for content publishers than consumers.


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