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Old 4th May 2012, 23:31   #1
Kinmorie
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Will Winamp ever be ready for prime time?

To own Winamp is to reinstall Winamp. In the 60 days since paying for Winamp Pro, I've had to reinstall the fragile thing five times. Mostly as a result of adding a plug-in (accessed from the Winamp database of add-ons) which promptly borks all or part of Winamp's functionality.

Page through the tech support forum and you'll find that a huge % of responses give the link for clean install instructions.

Don't get me wrong. I love Winamp. I love its functionality, its non-Apple-ness, the community that has built around it, the dedication of its developers. But I can't be the only one pointing to the elephant in the room - it's frailer than a sick nun.

All I was looking for was a trouble-free media player, with the rare feature of being able to work with flacs which I then send to my high end audio setup. What's the "best practice" here: it is safest to just forgo any plug-ins, add-ons? The latest trip through the uninstall/reinstall/rinse/repeat cycle, and registry futzing and %AppData% scrubbing....has spurred me to look elsewhere.



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Old 4th May 2012, 23:37   #2
DrO
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out-dated 3rd party plug-ins are in most cases the causes of Winamp failing but that's one of the downsides to allowing plug-in developers to pretty much be able to do what they want to do when loaded into Winamp. and it's that which can in cases make it very easy to bring Winamp down in flames.

it really depends on what plug-ins you are trying to install as to how to answer your question though with a lot of plug-in developers only active for a short time it does end up that a lot stop being compatible with newer versions of Winamp and Windows (usually due to forced changes needed to resolve security vulnerabilities).

maybe if you can indicate which plug-ins you're having issues with either a known 'good' alternative can be suggested or something can be done to try to get it removed from the site (as in all honesty most of the plug-ins on there don't work too well once you go beyond XP).

-daz

If you have issues with Winamp or still want to get it, ensure
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Old 6th May 2012, 05:18   #3
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hey DrO,

kind of relates to the other discussion we had, but maybe a pref could be added where the user can choose to turn on a feature that would block any unverified plugin? meaning, plugins that aren't known to work with the OS or winamp ver?

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Old 6th May 2012, 08:57   #4
DJ Egg
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@Kinmorie
A "clean install" is the last resort, when everything else fails.
If a 3rd-party plugin causes crashing, just remove the plugin (easiest way is to remove the relevant DLL from the Winamp\Plugins folder).
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Old 6th May 2012, 19:35   #5
DrO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSinatra View Post
maybe a pref could be added where the user can choose to turn on a feature that would block any unverified plugin?
what determines a verified plug-in?
who verifies the plug-in?
how will Winamp know what is verified?
is this something updated out of release or only on release or via a lookup service?
does it just disable any 'unofficial' plug-ins? but then how to determine that as most things can be fooled...

i know what you mean / want but it's just not a clear cut thing and would actually be pointless if it's not maintained properly (which is pretty likely to happen).

-daz

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Old 6th May 2012, 20:23   #6
MrSinatra
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well, didn't you say foobar does this?

basically, the idea would be to put the "checking" part in the app, but the "certificate" part in the plugin. so essentially, it would be up to the plugin author to say the plugin works with all these OS's, and with winamp up to version XXX.

yes, that means they'd have to update it every time a new OS or SP comes out, or every time a new winamp comes out, but in a way thats a perverse incentive to keep the plugin updated if they want others to use it. obviously, this would only appeal to users who only want author verified plugins to load, but it would also be handy to see if a plugin is causing problems, b/c you could make it a 0/1 switch in the ini files.

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Old 6th May 2012, 20:41   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinmorie View Post
What's the "best practice" here: it is safest to just forgo any plug-ins, add-ons?
The "best practice" here is to make your best describing the thing you are looking for i think. Unfortunately there is no alot active third party developers around to support their plugins infinitely, lot of plugins are aged. No ship sail forever without crew. Likely there is alternatives to look at.

The best effort the winamp team can do is to clean up the winamp database of add-ons getting rid of obsolete and clearly broken plugins. The lizard should not be sorry about the lost tail.
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Old 6th May 2012, 20:58   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSinatra View Post
well, didn't you say foobar does this?
the fb2k approach is a value which is checked against as to whether the plug-in is compatible with the api version of the fb2k being used. Winamp can do that but it has never really used it because the plug-in versions pretty much haven't changed in 10+years as it's just there to indicate the header version for the level of the plug-in version implemented - i'm not explaining it well but as you don't do / know how Winamp plug-ins are implemented it's hard for me to explain it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSinatra View Post
basically, the idea would be to put the "checking" part in the app, but the "certificate" part in the plugin. so essentially, it would be up to the plugin author to say the plugin works with all these OS's, and with winamp up to version XXX.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSinatra View Post
yes, that means they'd have to update it every time a new OS or SP comes out, or every time a new winamp comes out, but in a way thats a perverse incentive to keep the plugin updated if they want others to use it.
if someone has one plug-in then it's not too bad i guess but in my case, i'd have to update at least 45+ plug-ins just to indicate it still works and that is just a massive pain in the bum and i know i wouldn't want to have to do it. that approach is something which firefox has been doing and it's caused more issues for a lot of users when the plug-in works fine and doesn't need an update other than to update one value in it and i can see the same happening with Winamp if that was the case which then leads to more people sticking on version x.xx due to a plug-in (again).

and really complicating the process would put people off rather than help and on a personal note i could quite happily stop plug-in development with something like that coming in.

i know there should be some sort of verification but all i see is more work on either side of the fence and generally little benefit to the user. the only thing i could see as being useful is a way to only load the 'official' plug-ins in a 'safe' mode and that's it about it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverBird775 View Post
The best effort the winamp team can do is to clean up the winamp database of add-ons getting rid of obsolete and clearly broken plugins. The lizard should not be sorry about the lost tail.
the easy option would be to just pull the whole plug-ins parts of the site down as it's not a clear cut thing in saying that plug-in does or doesn't work as there's too many factors affecting things e.g. OS version or related plug-in dependencies causing issues and so on. as i know there a large number which are fine on XP but not on Vista/Win7 even though it's simple to get them fixed as it's usually not saving settings to the Winamp settings folder and not doing unicode subclassing - all of which can be patched externally or via a wrapper plug-in.


then again, it's not my place to make such decisions so not sure why i'm worrying about it.

-daz

If you have issues with Winamp or still want to get it, ensure
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Old 6th May 2012, 22:42   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrO View Post
the easy option would be to just pull the whole plug-ins parts of the site down as it's not a clear cut thing in saying that plug-in does or doesn't work as there's too many factors affecting things e.g. OS version or related plug-in dependencies causing issues and so on. as i know there a large number which are fine on XP but not on Vista/Win7 even though it's simple to get them fixed as it's usually not saving settings to the Winamp settings folder and not doing unicode subclassing - all of which can be patched externally or via a wrapper plug-in.
Cheer up good sir! Starting clean will have a sure sanitize effect on plugins. The best "certificate" for a plugin could be the yearly winamp database free membership subscription then. If the author (publisher) cares about his creation then it does not matter whether his plugin works or 'it depends'.
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Old 6th May 2012, 23:07   #10
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the key issue is people think that if it is on the site then it should work which is a fair assumption but no one is willing to remove ones that are old / out-dated / broken with newer OSes since we'd probably just end up with a handful of crappy now-playing plug-ins which all do the same thing.

i know in the past when i broached the topic that there was a fear in removing plug-ins as it would then put people off or not think there's as much going on as there should be.

maybe my view on things is skewed since i've been so heavily focused on my time with Winamp being down to plug-ins that they just aren't as important to the larger user-base (since we only see a small proportion via the forums and most of that comes from people with broken plug-ins).


whatever happens will annoy people be it developers or users and would very likely cause some poor sod a load of work to do either in determining ones to keep or setting the level they work at, etc. if i was running things i know that i wouldn't allocate the time towards any of it and would just go with the lesser of two evils and just pull the plug-in submissions - with just skins and language packs left.


either way, talking about it isn't going to make any difference to things being done as i'm not going to put in freetime working on something i don't believe in or see any true way of allowing it to work without a load of work being put in on multiple levels and as something which is for people higher up to decide the fate off. in either case, substantial plug-in changes would be the end of me doing Winamp plug-ins and that probably is a good thing in the grand scheme of things so someone else can start over fresh if that was how it ends up going.

-daz

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Old 6th May 2012, 23:30   #11
MrSinatra
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but DrO, all i was suggesting was a pref that let the user decide to opt in to verification.

so in other words, someone like you, with your many amazing and wonderful plugins, (and i mean that!) would not have to update them UNLESS you wanted them to work for those who insisted on verification.

that would prob only be power users, and in addition, you could simply update the specs for each plugin when working on the plugin for other reasons.

plus, you'd have the benefit of a troubleshooting toggle for only loading official plugins.

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Old 6th May 2012, 23:45   #12
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but verification is just not something that can be immediately done and keep working without additional resources being done on both sides of the fence. that's my key point and without official and plug-in developers actually following and doing it properly then it's just a pointless waste of time and resources for everyone concerned. maybe to some users it would matter but the way that most of the complaints and problems seen on here and the mailing lists come from people just blindly installing something, even with checks in place they'd then bitch that it won't install / run the plug-in (which is already a problem as is).

Quote:
you'd have the benefit of a troubleshooting toggle for only loading official plugins.
that is the only beneficial thing i can see from this which could be done without too much time and effort and is probably something which should have been implemented over a decade ago.

-daz

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Old 7th May 2012, 15:32   #13
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All apps provide minimum requirements for the app to work. Plug-ins should be no different. In addition, the burden should be on the plug-in author to provide working contact links. Then a user could contact the author to find out if the plug-in should work for their situation.

Within limits, a user should expect a plug-in provided on the main WA site to work. A big disclaimer could be placed on the main website alerting users to not trust/use plug-ins from authors with non-working contact links and/or those over a certain age (5 yrs?). Plug-ins with non-working or intermittent contact links could (should?) be removed after some reasonable length of time (6 months?) or a notice placed on the plug-in's "more info" page. This contact check could be automated (no added work for anyone, except for initial setup and the occasional maintenance if done well).

The marketing ploy of listing tons of stuff to draw people in will not work over the long run if a lot of the stuff is crap or doesn't work. It's almost like stores that advertize sales for temporarily very limited (other than close-out) stock without rain checks. I hate that and stop going to stores that use that tactic frequently.

The historic problems with plug-in (skins and language packs) submission, downloading, etc. must be seriously addressed and fixed. Then great devs, like DrO, would not be adverse to using the main WA site as a distribution point for their work. I've seen old versions of stuff on the main WA site and newer versions elsewhere. Don't know who's fault that is (maybe too much trouble to update on the main WA site).

IMO, plug-ins are a large part of what makes WA great and has helped it last for over 15 years. Many ideas from plug-ins have been, and continue to be, integrated into WA proper. It would be a big mistake to remove all plug-ins from the main site.

Finally imo, users should not be 'babied' so much in the PC world. No one 'needs' to be a power user, but some burden should be on all users to 'trust but verify' what they use, if they really want the choice PCs provide. Let 'lazy' users use (and pay more for) Apple products that removes most choice and 'just work' in whatever limited fashion they do. Stop 'falling over backward' trying to help those who really don't want help, just want to have things done for them. People should be encouraged to 'think' a little bit. A mind can atrophy from non-use like any other human attribute.

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Old 8th May 2012, 05:29   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrO View Post
the fb2k approach is a value which is checked against as to whether the plug-in is compatible with the api version of the fb2k being used. Winamp can do that but it has never really used it because the plug-in versions pretty much haven't changed in 10+years as it's just there to indicate the header version for the level of the plug-in version implemented - i'm not explaining it well but as you don't do / know how Winamp plug-ins are implemented it's hard for me to explain it.
indeed, but i do appreciate the effort! i do understand what an API is, so i think i have the basic gist of it.

i was giving this some more thought, taking your feedback into consideration, and came up with a slightly different proposal...

how about a switch or pref, that when "on" would only automatically load "official" plugins, and then, would present the user a one by one series of "yes/no" choices as to whether to load the next plugin or not? a winamp "safe mode" as it were?

in addition, when presented with this choice, a gui could tell the user if the plugin has been rated by the author to work with: 1. the API or not, 2. the OS or not, and 3. the winamp ver or not. so for each of those it would say: "yes" "no" or "unknown"

that way a plugin author could, if they so desired, let it be known that their plug is good for xp, but not win7, or vice versa. if they said nothing on this, "unknown" would be reported. in the case of the winamp ver, an exact match for current release should be required to get a "yes." otherwise, it shoud say "no, #####" where the numbers list the latest version known to work. (same with the api ver)

this seems like a really useful troubleshooting pref, and something that i think would (perversely) encourage devs to keep things up to date, and at the same time, provide useful feedback to the user.

i know it may seem like something that is hard to catch on, but i really do believe it would prove its usefulness over time.

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Old 8th May 2012, 06:40   #15
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I have a similar (or may be the same) observation as the OP but from a different perspective:
  • I'm not using the pro version.
  • I'm a plugin developer (FFSoX) and have the chance to alter my plugin in case knowing how.
Each time I'm going to install a new WA version my plugin is broken.

My workaround is as follows:
  1. Before I'm going to install a new WA version I'm removing the plugin.
  2. Then I'm installing the new WA version.
  3. Finally I'm re-installing the plugin, and everything is fine.
Maybe somebody can point to what's going wrong.

Edit: I should add that this only happens on my Vista (64 bit) system, XP (32 bit) is fine.
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Old 8th May 2012, 08:41   #16
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Hi pbelkner,

All the WA plug-ins I use, both Nullsoft and 3rd party, do not require the process you described.

It sounds like your plug-in is altering (or adding to) the registry entries that WA makes during it's installation. Installing a new version of WA maybe replacing these registry entries with the default WA entries. So re-installing your plug-in puts these alterations/additions back. The Vista 64-bit registry has an additional section for dealing with 32-bit apps like WA, which XP 32-bit (or Vista 32-bit) does not have or need.

Whatever is written to WA configuration files that is specific to your plug-in (such as the WA preferences changes) should not be affected by installing a new version of WA over an existing older version. Is the FFSox Player's dll file still in the WA plugins folder after the new WA version is installed? WA should not be removing 3rd party dll files already in this folder. Where are the FFSox Player preferences stored?

Have you tried re-installing your plug-in after installing a new WA version over an existing older version, without removing your plug-in first?

When removing the plug-in, do you just remove the dll file from WA's plugins folder or is there an uninstall process? The info on the link provided does not mention removal/uninstalling.

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Old 8th May 2012, 10:03   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSinatra View Post
... in the case of the winamp ver, an exact match for current release should be required to get a "yes." otherwise, it shoud say "no, #####" where the numbers list the latest version known to work. ...
How does this prevent the plug-in authors from having to update their plug-ins just to say they are compatible with the new WA version?

This is the specific thing that DrO objected to and stated he would stop writing plug-ins rather than comply with such a requirement.

I think a mandatory working contact link would be better. Active authors could list on their contact page all the info you are taking about (and more, if they wanted). It would be in one place, easy to update, and not require the info to be put in each plug-in (and the plug-ins re-submitted) every time a new version of WA is released.

WA could provide an aggregate site for those authors not able/willing to pay for their own site. Some mechanism can be worked out to minimize abuse of the free hosting (minimum number of downloads to stay, token subscription fees, something).

If an author chooses not to kept this info page up-to-date or becomes inactive, then the users can decide whether to try the plug-in(s) or not, knowing the risk they are taking.

This would let the unsupported, non-working plug-ins for any reasonably recent version of WA or OS be removed from the main WA site and prevent their accumulation going forward. All plug-ins for reasonably obsolete versions of WA and OSes could be sorted and archived (or just deleted, they are probably already archived somewhere on the WEB).

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Old 8th May 2012, 10:08   #18
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this sounds like pbelkner's plug-in is built with a non-MSVC compiler and that it's getting corrupted during the 'optimising' stage of the install which uses BindImageEx(..) to re-map all of the virtual addresses in the Winamp plug-ins found to improve the loading time.

so it's actually a bug in the OS function and the general way to prevent it is to ensure the plug-in dll has been set as 'read-only' which won't help when you're developing unless you force the update but will save issues for users of the plug-in.

and yours is the 3rd plug-in i've known off to see such an issue as something in the internal maps of the PE header in the plug-in dll gets set to somewhere which isn't valid and that's why the plug-in then fails to load. so nothing at all to do with settings or permission issues.

-daz

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Old 8th May 2012, 10:11   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrO View Post
Quote:
you'd have the benefit of a troubleshooting toggle for only loading official plugins.
Unquote:

that is the only beneficial thing i can see from this which could be done without too much time and effort and is probably something which should have been implemented over a decade ago.

-daz
This may sound like a good idea, but how many users do you think would use it? How many users of these forums comply with the official request to supply the stated troubleshooting info currently asked for?

Is it really reasonable for a user to expect a plug-in to work without issues when it is dated years before the OS being used was released, simply because it is on the main WA site? I would think the user would be surprised if it worked at all. Nothing else lasts forever, why do users think a computer program should? Or is it that most don't read the release dates?

Are bad plug-ins truly the major issue reported on these forums? Admittedly, I've only been active a short time, but I've seen quite a few requests for what WA is not designed to do, or issues from those not understanding what WA is designed to do (and how to do it), or complaints about associated services that WA has no control over. I've made some of the first two myself.

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Old 8th May 2012, 10:17   #20
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how long is a piece of string?

no one can really answer that though if a 'safe' mode is provided then it could be used as a trouble-shooting step if instructed or if tried out manually. but the biggest issue like you point out is the user not doing or following things correctly.

-daz

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Old 8th May 2012, 10:48   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrO View Post
this sounds like pbelkner's plug-in is built with a non-MSVC compiler and that it's getting corrupted during the 'optimising' stage of the install which uses BindImageEx(..) to re-map all of the virtual addresses in the Winamp plug-ins found to improve the loading time.
Most likely this is the explanation because the plugin is build using MINGW.

Who in the world has such a crazy idea to (silently) alter (and potentially break) third party software????
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Old 8th May 2012, 10:54   #22
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it was added in a few years back and actually it helps to improve the speed of loading Winamp though is less noticeable when using more modern hardware but is still applicable.

and it's not done silently as the installer shows that it is doing it (though to avoid user confusion it's called 'optimising') and like i said, you're the 3rd plug-in to be affected by what is a Windows api bug when it comes to the handling of mingw compiled dlls. i understand the frustration but the benefit of all users vs a small number using a niche plug-in wins out in this case.

-daz

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Old 8th May 2012, 11:13   #23
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Quote:
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it was added in a few years back and actually it helps to improve the speed of loading Winamp though is less noticeable when using more modern hardware but is still applicable.
Possibly the effect is measurable but I'm convinced that there is not a single user really noticing it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrO View Post
and it's not done silently as the installer shows that it is doing it (though to avoid user confusion it's called 'optimising') and like i said, you're the 3rd plug-in to be affected by what is a Windows api bug when it comes to the handling of mingw compiled dlls. i understand the frustration but the benefit of all users vs a small number using a niche plug-in wins out in this case.
As already stated above I'm convinced that there's not a single user really profiting from a non noticeable effect, but there are indeed users effected by a useless "optimization".

To me it is typical M$ strategy to make third party software incompatible by intention.

Further, to me it is not ruled out that the problem reported by the OP is due to the same reason.
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Old 8th May 2012, 11:26   #24
DrO
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i don't know why i bother to explain things when no one else does and i just get it in the neck *shrugs*


it was a noticeable improvement when it was put in place in and yes it can potentially affect users but i've not seen anyone post about it here in our little microcosm of the forums in over 2 years until you've mentioned it.


if you're not happy then you can either bitch at the developers who implemented it or provide a way to reliably determine how a plug-in dll has been built so mingw compiles can be identified and it can then be put into the installer to resolve it. i tried to do that when the issue first was noticed and never found anything reliable which could be used.


and with that i'm just not going to bother to reply to posts about implementation details anymore as it just seems it causes more problems than it's worth and i'm just sick of getting it in the neck from people about stuff when there's more important things to be concerned about than Winamp and it's bloody plug-ins.

*logs off*

-daz

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Old 8th May 2012, 11:37   #25
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i don't know why i bother to explain things when no one else does and i just get it in the neck *shrugs*
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*logs off*
Hi daz,

of course, you are not the one my comments are addressed to because as far as I can see you are not a WA developer. Many thanks for your explanations.

Peter
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Old 8th May 2012, 16:46   #26
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How does this prevent the plug-in authors from having to update their plug-ins just to say they are compatible with the new WA version?

This is the specific thing that DrO objected to and stated he would stop writing plug-ins rather than comply with such a requirement.
please give DrO a chance to respond to my post to him before you start posting.

but honestly, i don't see whats confusing about my post? there would be a "safe mode" toggle that would be OPT IN and so for most users, of no consequence. plugins would do whatever they would do.

now, if a user opted in, winamp would ask about each plugin, meaning it would ask the user should winamp load this or not? in addition, each one would have a "status screen" showing if the author rated it or not, or said nothing (unknown).

it is useful in two ways. 1. to troubleshoot, ie. figure out which plugin is crapping out, and / or get a borked winamp to load, b/c the toggle could be affected by ini file. and 2. it would be useful if good plugin devs actually made use of it, and provided info in the plugin to the 3 questions, b/c that way at the very least, it would be known the LAST known good config for a plugin. obviously, one would hope the plugin author would be accurate in his assessment. if i am using 5.623, and it reports 5.621 as opposed to 5.3, then i at least have a frame of reference, about its age, chance to work, and so on. its useful to know.

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I think a mandatory working contact link would be better. Active authors could list on their contact page all the info you are taking about (and more, if they wanted). It would be in one place, easy to update, and not require the info to be put in each plug-in (and the plug-ins re-submitted) every time a new version of WA is released.
the contact info could be part of whats reported, but part of what i am suggesting is that if winamp were to institute my idea, i believe it gives a "perverse incentive" to devs to update their plugins, esp if people start reporting errors to them via their contact info in the status screen, asking things like "is this no longer compatible with ver ### like winamp safe mode is telling me?

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WA could provide an aggregate site for those authors not able/willing to pay for their own site. Some mechanism can be worked out to minimize abuse of the free hosting (minimum number of downloads to stay, token subscription fees, something).

If an author chooses not to kept this info page up-to-date or becomes inactive, then the users can decide whether to try the plug-in(s) or not, knowing the risk they are taking.

This would let the unsupported, non-working plug-ins for any reasonably recent version of WA or OS be removed from the main WA site and prevent their accumulation going forward. All plug-ins for reasonably obsolete versions of WA and OSes could be sorted and archived (or just deleted, they are probably already archived somewhere on the WEB).
what i would do is different...

i would institute my idea, and get some plugins to use it, like some of DrO's, and some of the other big ones that are still popular and still maintained. once the concept was proven, i would put ALL the existing plugins into an archived site, where you had to pass a big disclaimer, saying "No one gets out of here alive." actually, saying "Fear ye all who enter here, as of this date, all these plugins were archived, and while many still work, it is unknown how many do, or for what ver of winamp or OS."

i would then create a new, smallish archive of the plugins that proved the concept, and require them to have the info to "enter" the new, small, maintained site. now, once in the site, it would be up to the author to maintain them, but at least they would all have a reference point and a clean break from old to new will have been made.

DrO is usually very pessimistic about such grand, sweeping big changes, but i do think he would see the benefit in such a clean break.

i am not against plugins, i simply advocate a better process.

and i am very thankful DrO gives his feedback, i appreciate it, and if he stopped, i'd probably stop coming to this forum, b/c the other winamp devs, even egg now, so rarely post and almost never pull back the curtain the way DrO does. i learn from the big O.

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Old 8th May 2012, 17:17   #27
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This may sound like a good idea, but how many users do you think would use it? How many users of these forums comply with the official request to supply the stated troubleshooting info currently asked for?
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how long is a piece of string?

no one can really answer that though if a 'safe' mode is provided then it could be used as a trouble-shooting step if instructed or if tried out manually. but the biggest issue like you point out is the user not doing or following things correctly.

-daz
please DON'T encourage DrO's pessimism. its strong enough.

like i said, it would be useful to power users, plugin devs, and anyone experiencing an issue who comes to the forum for help.

the question isn't who reads the docs? no one does at first. the question is what tools can we provide after they start asking questions? in other words, what can be done AFTER they don't read the docs?

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Is it really reasonable for a user to expect a plug-in to work without issues when it is dated years before the OS being used was released, simply because it is on the main WA site? I would think the user would be surprised if it worked at all. Nothing else lasts forever, why do users think a computer program should? Or is it that most don't read the release dates?
this is why i think a safe mode is a good idea, esp when combined with a "clean break" of the website. once a user with a problem is told to turn it on, they will be confronted with that info, if they ignored it earlier. better yet, they will have contact info to bother the author. now granted, that can fall out of date, but at least it would be there, and returned email is in a way, its own feedback.

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Are bad plug-ins truly the major issue reported on these forums? Admittedly, I've only been active a short time, but I've seen quite a few requests for what WA is not designed to do, or issues from those not understanding what WA is designed to do (and how to do it), or complaints about associated services that WA has no control over. I've made some of the first two myself.
i think they are a big problem, esp in the following way:

people now know, that many many plugins at the site aren't going to work. once you have a bad apple, it spoils the barrel, and thats whats happened here. many users, including myself, have basically written off using plugins altogether, as the whole thing is now tainted in our minds, b/c so many are bad. its a downward spiral.

this is why i like the clean break idea. users would know that plugins on a new site, were at least rated to work with SOMETHING or some level of software, and that this could be seen and tested in a plugin safe mode. old plugins would still be available, but at an archived site with a giant disclaimer you'd see before getting to them.

the real benefit, is that users would again have confidence, in a new "safe mode compliant" plugin site.

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Old 9th May 2012, 06:15   #28
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please DON'T encourage DrO's pessimism. its strong enough.
Sorry, no can do. My viewpoint is a lot closer to DrO's than it is to yours on many things.

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the question isn't who reads the docs? no one does at first. the question is what tools can we provide after they start asking questions? in other words, what can be done AFTER they don't read the docs?
I may be part of a small minority, but I read (or skim) all the documentation provided before I use a product. I want to know what the product's dev say it is supposed to do and how it does it, before I use my intuition and try to figure it out (and maybe get it to do stuff the dev did not realize or intend).

The problems with most documentation fall in 1 of 3 areas. Incomplete, out of date, and written above or below the user's level of understanding. I know how hard it is to avoid these things, after once trying to be a tech writer.

The problem with trying to 'figure it out' (without some fore knowledge from somewhere) is that too many things in the PC world are inconsistent and/or counter-intuitive. You can wind up breaking something or thinking something is not working when it is.

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this is why i think a safe mode is a good idea, esp when combined with a "clean break" of the website.
I'm not objecting to a safe mode. If it can be added fairly easily, then let it be done. I would use it, you would, I just don't think many (most?) would. Many (most?) would be trying to figure it out on their own and seeking help as a last resort.

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people now know, that many many plugins at the site aren't going to work. once you have a bad apple, it spoils the barrel, and thats whats happened here. many users, including myself, have basically written off using plugins altogether, as the whole thing is now tainted in our minds, b/c so many are bad. its a downward spiral.
Bad apples spoil the barrel they're in. Do you stop eating all apples because of that? A lot of very good plug-ins are not even on the main WA site. I point to DrO's as the best example. Without plug-ins, I don't think I would be using WA. I know I would not be enjoying it as much.

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the real benefit, is that users would again have confidence, in a new "safe mode compliant" plugin site.
We both have the same goal. We've proposed the main points of 2 different ways to get there. There are other ways. Bottom line, something needs to be done for both power users and average users. The status quo is no longer working. Too bad too many in management, marketing, and 'bean counting' don't see that.

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Old 9th May 2012, 06:53   #29
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We both have the same goal. We've proposed the main points of 2 different ways to get there. There are other ways. Bottom line, something needs to be done for both power users and average users. The status quo is no longer working. Too bad too many in management, marketing, and 'bean counting' don't see that.
Please note again that the problem is most likely caused by the WA installer trashing third party plugins.
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Old 9th May 2012, 07:16   #30
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please give DrO a chance to respond to my post to him before you start posting.
I know you are passionate about your proposal. I realize that some don't have time, or take time, to read what they've missed in a long thread. But I hope you're not asking me to, or expecting me to, wait in line when I have something to say.

DrO posted 5 minutes after my post (I think you're referring to), which was a good 4.5 hours after yours. I don't think my post distracted or interfered with DrO responding to you in any way. I think he decided to respond to a user's technical problem, which I was 'off base' on (which lead to him and the user getting upset), rather than continue in a 'what could be, should be' discussion.

I'm not upset. I just don't think I should let that comment pass without a response. My time is valuable to me too. If I have a response to something I see and don't make it when I see it, I may not come back to it. Or I fear my later response would be too far away from what I'm responding too. Not that I think my comments are all that important, just throwing in my 2 cents.

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Old 9th May 2012, 07:34   #31
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Please note again that the problem is most likely caused by the WA installer trashing third party plugins.
Hi pbelkner,

You're upset. I can understand. DrO (a very good dev, who has helped keep WA going for several years) said he knows of only 2 other cases like yours.

The problem with 3rd party plug-ins (mostly old and unsupported ones) is much larger than installer issues. I think it's up to active 3rd party devs to keep up with documented WA plug-in API changes. If that change and others are not documented and posted in the appropriate place, then I think you have a legit 'beef'. Also I think he said the problem is more on Windows side.

But I'm just a WA user, so what do I know.

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Old 9th May 2012, 08:12   #32
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I can understand. DrO (a very good dev, who has helped keep WA going for several years) said he knows of only 2 other cases like yours.
It' not only mine, it is the problem of the OP who told us that he's gonna leaving WA because exactly of that problem.

The OP described the problem exactly as that WA is broken after an (update) installation. It's not plausible in any way that this is due to any plugin, because no plugin disturbed WA before the installation. To me it is obvious that the problem is due to the installation. That was confirmed by DrO.

The OP talked about the big elephant in the room.

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The problem with 3rd party plug-ins (mostly old and unsupported ones) is much larger than installer issues. I think it's up to 3rd party devs to keep up with documented WA plug-in API changes. If that change and others are not documented and posted in the appropriate place, then I think you have a legit 'beef'. Also I think he said the problem is more on Windows side.
As far as I understand the issue it is caused by the WA installer using a broken M$ Windows function. That's why I blamed M$ at first.

On the other hand I'm asking why the WA installer is using a broken function. As DrO was confirming, it is known to WA devs that they are using a broken function.

The easiest solution would be to alter the default setting for that questionable "optimization". Obviously that "optimization" should be switched off by default. If somebody switches that "optimization" on and has a problem afterwards, he definitely will know that it is due to that "optimization".

To clarify again, I'm not going to blame DrO. He's the only one giving qualified answers.
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Old 9th May 2012, 08:41   #33
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Hi pbelkner,

But it's not all 3rd party plug-ins that cause or have a WA based problem, even old unsupported ones. Clearly those the OP was trying to use (which he never identified) and yours cause or have problems.

But I use a number of 3rd party plug-ins and routinely installed new versions of WA over them with no WA (installer or otherwise) based problems, with them or WA.

A few are rather old. For one I was able to contact the dev to have him update it to comply with Win 7's restriction on where configuration .ini files should be placed. But even before this, I could install new versions of WA over it. I just had to run WA in administrator mode if I wanted to save configuration changes for that plug-in. I have 2 other old unsupported plug-ins that I still have to do that for. Although I now know them so well that sometimes I just copy their configuration files to an unrestricted folder, edit in the changes, and copy them back to the WA plugins folder.

One, that I'm no longer using, insisted on placing it's configuration file in the Windows folder (which Win 7 really doesn't like). But the point is that it still worked even when installing new WA versions over older ones.

What you say about the installer "optimization", I'm not qualified to speak on.

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Old 9th May 2012, 10:47   #34
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But it's not all 3rd party plug-ins that cause or have a WA based problem, even old unsupported ones. Clearly those the OP was trying to use (which he never identified) and yours cause or have problems.

But I use a number of 3rd party plug-ins and routinely installed new versions of WA over them with no WA (installer or otherwise) based problems, with them or WA.
Now knowing the reason (thanks to DrO) it's hopefully not a big issue to make the plugin resistent against the third party plugin trashing installer. Maybe I only have to link the plugin DLL using the M$ linker instead of the MINGW linker.

But that's not the point. The point is feeling dragged into M$ only world when trying to develop a WA plugin. The installer which (potentially) trashes third party plugins being developed using non M$ tools is the second observation making me feel this way. The first such observation was that the traditional WA API (just good old plain C) has been sometimes extended to become partly C++:
  • Having a plain C API allows the plugin developer to choose the compiler he prefers because each C compiler is binary compatible to each other. That's e.g. the reason why the API for developing browser plugins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPAPI) is plain C by intention.
  • On the other hand you can't expect two C++ compilers to be binary compatible. In case of a C++ API the plugin developer has been locked into the compiler used for the hosting software, in case of WA it is M$ C++ (as long as the plugin needs to access some part of the API being C++).
Because the FFSoX plugin allows playing videos and WA's video API is C++ there's no way to avoid M$ C++. In case of WA's video API I have at least to compile one module mapping the C++ API to plain C using M$ C++.
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Old 10th May 2012, 21:30   #35
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I know you are passionate about your proposal. I realize that some don't have time, or take time, to read what they've missed in a long thread. But I hope you're not asking me to, or expecting me to, wait in line when I have something to say.

DrO posted 5 minutes after my post (I think you're referring to), which was a good 4.5 hours after yours. I don't think my post distracted or interfered with DrO responding to you in any way. I think he decided to respond to a user's technical problem, which I was 'off base' on (which lead to him and the user getting upset), rather than continue in a 'what could be, should be' discussion.

I'm not upset. I just don't think I should let that comment pass without a response. My time is valuable to me too. If I have a response to something I see and don't make it when I see it, I may not come back to it. Or I fear my later response would be too far away from what I'm responding too. Not that I think my comments are all that important, just throwing in my 2 cents.
it has nothing to do with my passion, but my comment was directed at DrO, and what i mildly objected to was you basically speaking for DrO by confronting my post by regurgitating what you saw as his orig objections to my idea. i did not benefit for that, and imo, it did not speak to what i was now asking him to respond to. to put it another way, it was his response to my latest post i was interested in, not someones take on one of his earlier posts, which i had already seen and understood.

i'm not trying to silence you in any way, i am merely suggesting that was not the time for you to post that reply, nor did DrO need an assist. its one thing to seek clarification, its another to argue against to a post which is not directed at you. if he were to post his reply to me, and you expounded, agreed, whatever, afterwards, i'd have no objection. its just that restating what you see as his views does imo, end up making his reply to me afterwards, less focused. (and i'd feel that way even if DrO were to come on here now and say it didn't impact his post in any way, call it the Heisenberg principle)

and i only politely asked that you don't do it, if you insist on doing so, then thats your choice.

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Old 11th May 2012, 15:22   #36
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i'm not trying to silence you in any way, i am merely suggesting that was not the time for you to post that reply, nor did DrO need an assist. its one thing to seek clarification, its another to argue against to a post which is not directed at you. if he were to post his reply to me, and you expounded, agreed, whatever, afterwards, i'd have no objection. its just that restating what you see as his views does imo, end up making his reply to me afterwards, less focused. (and i'd feel that way even if DrO were to come on here now and say it didn't impact his post in any way, call it the Heisenberg principle)

and i only politely asked that you don't do it, if you insist on doing so, then thats your choice.
I am, and was, not arguing against your idea. Then again, in that post maybe I was. I did say I thought my idea was better.

We all response to posts that are not explicitly directed to us. Although in this case, I think I understand what you're saying.

The first 2 lines of that post, summarizing what you said and what DrO said was not intended as me speaking for him. Sorry you took it that way. That part of your revised idea had already been objected to and I was making note of it directly rather than referring back to DrO's post in which he did. I did not need to include those 2 lines at all, in order to make the comments I made in the rest of that post. And yes, I could have waited to make them, just didn't see a reason to.

When we get in these kind of discussions, it's not easy to determine what is 'appropriate' to reference and what isn't and when is a 'good' time to pitch in. After all, arguments in real live tend to be rather free flowing. But, it's not the same as trouble-shooting a technical issue and some rules of etiquette need to be followed.

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Old 13th May 2012, 10:05   #37
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The WA installer destroys DLLs

In order to verify that the ERROR reported by the OP and which I observe for some time with the FFSoX player plugin is DUE TO THE WA INSTALLER and not due to the plugin I did the following :
  1. There's was a working WA installation including the FFSoX player plugin.
  2. I've downloaded and run "winamp5623_full_emusic-7plus_en-us.exe".
  3. Each time I was starting the newly installed WA I was bothered with the following message at start-up time:
  4. I was re-installing the FFSoX player plugin. WA was working smoothly again.
  5. I was listing all FFSoX player plugin related DLLs:
    $ ls -l in_ffsox.dll in_ffsox/*.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 170563 May 13 08:47 in_ffsox.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 7144448 May 13 08:47 in_ffsox/avcodec-54.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 1079808 May 13 08:47 in_ffsox/avformat-54.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 139776 May 13 08:47 in_ffsox/avutil-51.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 130013 May 13 08:47 in_ffsox/liba52.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 225944 May 13 08:47 in_ffsox/libmad.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 4967668 May 13 08:47 in_ffsox/libsox.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 36172 May 13 08:47 in_ffsox/setdlgitemurl.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 306176 May 13 08:47 in_ffsox/swscale-2.dll
  6. I was re-installing WA again. After re-installation I was bothered again with the above message each time I was starting WA.
  7. I was listing all FFSoX player plugin related DLLs again:
    $ ls -l in_ffsox.dll in_ffsox/*.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 170563 May 13 08:49 in_ffsox.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 7144448 May 13 08:49 in_ffsox/avcodec-54.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 1079808 May 13 08:49 in_ffsox/avformat-54.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 139776 May 13 08:49 in_ffsox/avutil-51.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 130013 May 13 08:49 in_ffsox/liba52.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 225944 May 13 08:49 in_ffsox/libmad.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 4967668 May 13 08:49 in_ffsox/libsox.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 36684 May 13 08:49 in_ffsox/setdlgitemurl.dll
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 peter Administratoren 306176 May 13 08:49 in_ffsox/swscale-2.dll
  8. I made the following observations:
    • Each of the DLLs are touched by the WA installer which is proven by the altered time stamp reflecting WA installation time.
    • To make the point clear: Not only the plugin DLL "in_ffsox.dll" is touched but also all DLLs from the sub-folder "in_ffsox" which are NOT loaded by WA but by the plugin DLL "in_ffsox.dll".
    • In one case even the file size of a DLL from the sub-folder has changed.
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Old 13th May 2012, 12:18   #38
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@pbelkner

I'm going to exclude all of those DLLs you listed from the Bind/Optimizing stage for the next release.

Does anyone else know what other 3rd-party plugins are affected so I can also add them to the exclusion list?

(note, I need the actual dll filenames)
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Old 13th May 2012, 12:42   #39
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@pbelkner

I'm going to exclude all of those DLLs you listed from the Bind/Optimizing stage for the next release.

Does anyone else know what other 3rd-party plugins are affected so I can also add them to the exclusion list?

(note, I need the actual dll filenames)
Thanks a lot.

Is it possible to remove all DLLs from sub-folders regardless of their name from the optimization stage? For the FFSoX player theses DLLs are subject to change. During the last year there where e.g. several version bumps for the FFmpeg DLLs.
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Old 13th May 2012, 12:47   #40
Koopa
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We are already aware about it, also you can put some additional files from ffmpeg to the in_ffsox folder, iicr.

The problem is, that a simple rename does not allow wildcards.

I'm trying to find a solution for that and will provide the code change to the devs then.
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