Old 12th December 2011, 00:18   #1
Aminifu
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Should Winamp be re-written to fix its bugs?

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Originally Posted by DrO View Post
classic skins can and often do show part of their different buttons over each other. as classic skins just show a bitmap image and the skin does not control the position of the button, i would say this is working as desired. plus there are a number of off-by-1 issues with the classic skin which have to be kept for legacy reasons (annoying but that's how it is).

-daz
Hi DrO,

Winamp has come a long way, building on what came before. But, what will it take to schedule a rewrite of Winamp? Will this great app be allowed to ultimately die under the weight of legacy and old design issues?

If it's a matter of money, why not start a pledge drive? I would like to believe there is a critical mass of users who would contribute to this.
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Old 12th December 2011, 01:31   #2
hotwire2020
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I Agree..

Hello Forum,

I fully agree with Aminifu. As i am a Pro version subscriber I am positive that some of us would be glad for, perhaps, a version of a re-write that many of us get answers that keep us stuck on issues because of the original program structuring. I know this comes before the hand of other developers and it's not an one man solution, but some ideas should at least be put before the panel before "Forget It" it's not worth re-coding becomes the final answer.

This is similar to the issue I have about the process of the way Winamp detects duplicates in a previous thread. And I was basically stated that even though my concept may be a reasonable suggestion it is most likely something that won't be implemented due to the hassle of recoding the original code for this feature.

Although I have gotten by with workarounds and other programs, I feel Winamp Pro can be an ultimate music software if it is not confined to old tech. Of coarse you can't please all of the people all of the time, I do believe some suggestions have a good place to be at least considered for some recoding.. IMO..

Thanks for reading

Last edited by hotwire2020; 12th December 2011 at 01:40. Reason: Re-wording and corrections
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Old 12th December 2011, 06:46   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
Winamp has come a long way, building on what came before. But, what will it take to schedule a rewrite of Winamp? Will this great app be allowed to ultimately die under the weight of legacy and old design issues?
re-writing any software is generally going to be a step back in-terms of compatibility / features -anyone remember the backlash when that was last tried with Winamp3?

i think you're being melodramatic about my point about the classic skin issues which yes there are off-by-1 issues but that is what the classic skin specs now are so it's how they have to remain - unless you want to go through and manually fix all of the skins if all of the issues were fixed? as the skin authors aren't generally going to do that especially as most classic skin submissions to winamp.com get rejected due to not following the current specs (which are ~7years old).

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Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
If it's a matter of money, why not start a pledge drive? I would like to believe there is a critical mass of users who would contribute to this.
i thought the same when trying to get funding from users to be able to afford to spend a month on implementing proper cue support for Winamp just over a year ago - that never happened as no one wanted to put up even small amounts of money (as ~£250 divided by a reasonable number of the requests would have been reasonable i thought) and that's for a supposedly in-demand feature.

i doubt main Winamp development is hindered financially but no one who would be able to make such decisions i think is generally going to go with "lets throw it all away and start again" as is being implied as a wonder option which would fix everything. like what would happen with all of the plug-ins? as most cannot be re-implemented to a new system or there's no one to make new plug-ins (as why create some plug-in for free when you can go off and make something for android / iphone and get a far better chance of some sort of income from it - something Winamp plug-ins do not allow as people expect everything to be free with a free player (am ignoring the pro aspect as that doesn't seem to have helped plug-in developers).

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Originally Posted by hotwire2020 View Post
This is similar to the issue I have about the process of the way Winamp detects duplicates in a previous thread. And I was basically stated that even though my concept may be a reasonable suggestion it is most likely something that won't be implemented due to the hassle of recoding the original code for this feature.
the duplicate handling issue was stated in the thread that it is implemented via a bundled plug-in (my jtfe one) and is not officially part of Winamp's development plans i.e. the feature was implemented off my own back when Winamp development stagnated for a while. and i said that it was a fair idea but that would take a fair bit off time to implement and that is not something i really have. to put things in context i generally have a few hours on a sunday night if i'm lucky for working on my own plug-ins.

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Of coarse you can't please all of the people all of the time, I do believe some suggestions have a good place to be at least considered for some recoding.. IMO..
very true and i'm not disagreeing with it going on the stupid number of plug-ins and time i've personally spent on trying to code things which would satisfy user needs for things which would clearly never be considered as a native feature - and is the whole reason of a plug-in system so things can be added without bloating the core for most users. what's important for one is not for another as has been seen too many times (especially by the number of 2.x bases users i get contact from about why my plug-ins won't work on a 8year old version).

either way i'm not knocking your points but i'm not the person to convince on putting more resources on the desktop client. (and i'll probably split these posts out into their own thread within the next few hours)

-daz
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Old 12th December 2011, 12:51   #4
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Hi DrO,

IMO, you have done more than your fair share supporting Winamp, on your own dime. Thank you very very much.

My question about a rewrite was not only due to the stated classic skin issues. It was more about issues in general because I've read in several posts that legacy and old design issues are preventing fixes or improvements. Some parts of WA appear to still be based on stuff 14 years old.

I've been using WA since 1998 and I do remember the backlash around WA 3. I think it was more to do with splitting WA into 2 versions (with a different mix of features on top of the same basic player) than the rewrite. WA 5 was what WA 3 should have been, a rewrite to merge the old features of WA 2 with the new features of WA 3.

Even so, your response makes sense. Nowadays it is naive to think a lot of people would pay to help support a free product that they use and claim to like (too bad). If a rewrite would break most of the working plugins then it would do more harm than good. I guess the key thing is that 'smart money' says the desktop platform has 'one foot in the grave', so a major effort for this desktop client would be hard to justify.
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Old 12th December 2011, 13:09   #5
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If you start on a "redesign" all you end up doing is setting up a new set of bugs in new code while also missing features from the older product. (Then add in the comments about pluggins, skins, etc).

Just think of the man-hours that have already been dedicated to Winamp and plug-ins over the decade plus that Winamp has been around.

Often it is better to keep the legacy application in the state it is. Winamp is brilliant as it is. There are just a few little corners that some people find need a polish. Which would be a better way of spending developer time on completing those items instead of just starting again.

I find it funny that this conversation has started because a skin is one pixel out!! You would get a lot more issues than that cosmetic item if Winamp went back to a blank sheet.

(I'm an ex-developer so have a bit of an idea of the sheer time it takes to create a product like Winamp)

Meanwhile - a big thank you for the developers and Dr O for keeping going. Not many products have lived this long. And there is nothing as old as Winamp on my PC. Usually one of the first products to be installed on my new PC builds.
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Old 12th December 2011, 13:36   #6
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Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
My question about a rewrite was not only due to the stated classic skin issues. It was more about issues in general because I've read in several posts that legacy and old design issues are preventing fixes or improvements. Some parts of WA appear to still be based on stuff 14 years old.
some parts are still the original code but if that stuff works then there's no point in re-writing it just for the sake of it (i know code styles / practices have come on a lot since then - i know so just from looking at my coding style change in that time). i'm not disagreeing that some areas do need to be completely overhauled / replaced e.g. better multi-threaded handling <- that is more likely to happen especially with the push for the Android app and having a desktop+device ecosystem to use which would benefit from such things for the transcoder, etc.

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Even so, your response makes sense. Nowadays it is naive to think a lot of people would pay to help support a free product that they use and claim to like (too bad). If a rewrite would break most of the working plugins then it would do more harm than good. I guess the key thing is that 'smart money' says the desktop platform has 'one foot in the grave', so a major effort for this desktop client would be hard to justify.
at times it would be good to just break things and start fresh but considering how much people complain when some plug-ins stopped working in 5.6 due to the security fixes which had to be implemented at that time (i know what i'd prefer to have in the plug-in vs security view of things).

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If you start on a "redesign" all you end up doing is setting up a new set of bugs in new code while also missing features from the older product. (Then add in the comments about pluggins, skins, etc).
exactly, that's why a 64-bit Winamp (although worked on a while back) just isn't of much use. some people will like it if they don't use any extra plug-ins but i'd almost go as far as putting money down that there'd be a backlash that plug-in x,y and z don't work (even though it's nothing which Winamp can do about since you cannot use a 32-bit plug-in in a 64-bit process in the way that plug-ins work).

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Originally Posted by Batter Pudding View Post
Often it is better to keep the legacy application in the state it is. Winamp is brilliant as it is. There are just a few little corners that some people find need a polish. Which would be a better way of spending developer time on completing those items instead of just starting again.
aye, and that is what has been done over time, with things gradually being replaced / updated / fixed, but it all comes down to a) time b) how worth it is and c) what is viewed by those making the decisions on what needs to be implemented, etc. yes i've gone in at times and added / fixed things when other people were too busy though i never should have done that since it wasn't in their plans.

yes Winamp has it's rough edges or lack of feature x against player y but really, if Winamp isn't fitting your needs, what's the point of using it if something else better suits you? i know that would probably be hated by management but it's like with anything, if you're not happy with it, don't use it or find something which does what you require. it's only 0s and 1s on a storage device - it's not like it's real anyway

-daz
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Old 13th December 2011, 09:30   #7
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Ok, rewriting all the WA features to take advantage of current hardware and coding software is not practical or cost efficient. I can accept that even though what's practical and cost efficient today may not look the same in 6 months or a year . I just hope the changes that are made are enough to keep WA around. There is nothing like WA and its plugins and after so long I would truly miss them if they died before I do.
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Old 13th December 2011, 21:17   #8
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one would think that eventually, windows won't support 32bit apps anymore. sure not for a long time yet, but eventually.

personally, regardless of that, i think winamp should be rewritten from the ground up, taking all these known legacy issues and limitations into account. no one is saying 5.623 32bit needs to wither away and die, but eventually that in fact will be the case, when 32bit is no longer offered.

i see winamp on android, and winamp on mac now. they didn't exist before. mac is 64 bit, is it not? surely a "winamp 64" project could be started now, and it would be a stripped down, lean ver of winamp, and be developed SLOWLY over time, taking care to avoid the problems of todays winamp. skipping short tracks comes to mind.

i'm not saying todays winmp is bloated, but honestly, if a new versions couldn't support ANY of the current 3rd party plugins, but develop unencumbered by legacy concenrs, that would be fine by me. if no one is really developing plugins anymore, and a lot of them don't work as is, why worry about it?

so in other words, continue 5.623 as is now for as long as 32bit exists, but slowly develop a "perfect" 64bit version over time, taking care to eliminate bugs and limitations before adding new features.

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Old 13th December 2011, 21:49   #9
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Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
I can accept that even though what's practical and cost efficient today may not look the same in 6 months or a year . I just hope the changes that are made are enough to keep WA around. There is nothing like WA and its plugins and after so long I would truly miss them if they died before I do.
that's a fair point and personally i'd like to see more focus on Winamp proper but then again i'm unlikely to use the Android or Mac versions (which aren't related to Winamp proper) so i guess that skews my wants (so probably a good thing i'm not in charge - wouldn't envy that job anyway, heh).

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one would think that eventually, windows won't support 32bit apps anymore. sure not for a long time yet, but eventually.
if / when that happens, i don't even think Winamp as is would be around. and such a change would nullify any of the compatibility issues with not having plug-ins to support (though how much that'd cause an impact on the user-base is a great unknown).

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personally, regardless of that, i think winamp should be rewritten from the ground up, taking all these known legacy issues and limitations into account. no one is saying 5.623 32bit needs to wither away and die, but eventually that in fact will be the case, when 32bit is no longer offered.
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i see winamp on android, and winamp on mac now. they didn't exist before. mac is 64 bit, is it not? surely a "winamp 64" project could be started now, and it would be a stripped down, lean ver of winamp, and be developed SLOWLY over time, taking care to avoid the problems of todays winamp. skipping short tracks comes to mind.
you cannot compare the android or mac apps to the proper desktop client since they're working against completely different platforms / coding requirements (i.e. WfA is java from what i remember compared to C/C++/ASM with Winamp proper - no idea about the Mac one and not too bothered). as i mentioned above, there was a native Winamp 64-bit client made but with 0-plug-in compatibility and not all 64-bit issues having been resolved, it would be a dead in the water release. plus it doesn't really offer anything beneficial over a 32-bit version as things stand, just losses in functionality and would be introducing new issues.

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i'm not saying todays winmp is bloated, but honestly, if a new versions couldn't support ANY of the current 3rd party plugins, but develop unencumbered by legacy concenrs, that would be fine by me. if no one is really developing plugins anymore, and a lot of them don't work as is, why worry about it?
because a complete paradigm shift in how plug-ins are done would likely alienate those of us who are still making them and although most users don't care as long as they get everything for free, all that would happen is more people complain things don't work, go back to 2.x and then it's just been a waste of effort for everyone involved.

not having legacy constraints would be great or better plug-in api handling / specification / documentation (best example is probably foobar2000 with it's properly versioned plug-in system, etc) but between Winamp having to change at times to resolve issues, either from security or OS imposed changes for example, things will break and not much can be done without people on the other side of the fence keeping developing things. plus there have been certain legacy aspects dropped such as when Winamp went unicode in 5.3 which dropped somethings, but dropping everything won't help. unfortunately Winamp is in some areas suffering due to it's own success.

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so in other words, continue 5.623 as is now for as long as 32bit exists, but slowly develop a "perfect" 64bit version over time, taking care to eliminate bugs and limitations before adding new features.
i see where you're coming from, but developing multiple things at the same time is one of the things which can lead to more bugs and having fixes in the current product is more beneficial then something which isn't being used or started over as all new code is buggy and no one can code bug-free (if they say they can then they are lieing).


i'd love to see things be ideal and perfect with no bugs, no legacy issues or anything else like that, but it's just not realistic be it from updating things to work properly, starting over and loosing everything which has made Winamp up to this point. either way, doesn't matter what i think as it doesn't count against what may or might happen (which i don't know much off and not even sure why i'm trying to defend things when it's not my job, etc ).

-daz
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Old 14th December 2011, 09:05   #10
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one would think that eventually, windows won't support 32bit apps anymore. sure not for a long time yet, but eventually.
16-bit code came in with DOS and that rather fine Windows for Workgroups v3.11. Windows 95 and more so Windows 98 started the cross over to 32-bit code. NT4.0 was the first fully 32-bit OS. Yet these all still supported 16-bit applications.

XP (NT5.0) was a mixture of both. 16-bit applications still worked fine. A good example of 16-bit legacy code is in the initial wrapper of an installer as it did not know what OS it was on until it started to run. So had to be targeted at the lowest common denominator.

Now we are on 64-bit Vista and Windows 7 Microsoft have finally dropped support for those legacy 16-bit applications. (Even though they still work on 32-bit Vista\Win7) That is a good fifteen years after 32-bit OS's came in to "replace" 16-bit ones. So I would expect 32-bit support will be with us for a very long time yet.

Look forward 15 years and do you really think we will all still be using these huge hulking big PCs? We will more likely to have all moved over to live with smartphone\iPad\Cloud type things. Storage is now so small and cheap with processors stupidly powerful that I expect you are seeing the last of the home PC. Your mobile phone is way more powerful than the first PC I ran Winamp on.


As to re-writes - just think of the number of hours already spent in developing Winamp over the years. And now look at how many ancient plug-ins there are that people still want to use. The wonders (and headaches) of the Microsoft World is that you are able to run really ancient applications on these systems as backward compatibility is kept. Whereas over in the Apple Mac world they will force you to keep dropping your old perfectly working applications to buy new ones at the whim of an OS upgrade. (This OS X Lion update forced you to abandon all your programs from the PowerPC era)

Just look at how many posts still appear on this forum of people using really odd


Re-writing code is not as simple as flicking a switch to swap to 64-bit. Over the decades Winamp has had many different programmers, with differing styles of coding, and lack of documentation due to time pressure. The source code must be "interesting" for Winamp with all kinds of little hacks and tweaks in there to "just make it work". AOL would just never have the money available to support a clean sheet development. In many ways I am surprised they are still keeping Winamp alive - and I give them a huge THANKS for that. (And if there was a Winamp re-write, do you think AOL would miss the chance of adding a shop into the heart of it? Ouch. Better to keep the legacy app IMHO)
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Old 14th December 2011, 09:12   #11
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... not even sure why i'm trying to defend things when it's not my job, etc

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Old 14th December 2011, 09:15   #12
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It's obvious to me. You care. Live long and prosper.
This is why Winamp has out lived sooooo many other products. Volunteers like DrO and this community in general keep the love alive. Thanks DrO
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Old 22nd December 2011, 00:53   #13
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Winamp doesn't need a rewrite, its damn good as it is. Winamp 5 continued from 2x and made a huge leap in addition with some features from Winamp 3 (which failed because of a rewrite I assume). Rewriting WA5 now would only lead to so many features being gone that.. yeah, you know.

Winamp 5 is near perfect already, just continue doing what you do Winamp Devs:
- fix stuff
- add new stuff
- OPTIMIZING it and making it faster & more stable (important!)
- .. repeat ..

And yes, me again
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Old 24th December 2011, 00:08   #14
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Very interesting thread.

Well, here are my 2 Cent:

The current 64Bit systems can run 32Bit applications just fine. I guess the main problem is that 64 simply sounds better for many people than 32 does (Hence just take a look at all these MP3 32Bit playback requests, where most people simply don't understand, what this exactly means). The only real advantage of 64 Bit systems is the addressing of RAM. A 32 Bit system only can address 3,6..GB RAM. Because of that limitation, 64 Bit systems will become more and more important in future.

Nevertheless, a lot of people simply expect simply to much from 64 Bit applications. We must decide between real 64 Bit optimized applications and applications, which were only built with a 64 Bit compiler (e.g. there are some 64Bit Firefox builds, which were only built with a 64Bit compiler, but bring no real advantage).

For some applications, a a 'real' 64 Bit version would bring a lot of advantages, e.g. Video or photo authoring/manipulation software. But for most programs, especially an audio player, a Web Browser or other things, there won't be the magic power boost, which some people would expect.

Even Microsoft recommences, that you use the 32Bit version of Office, and only run the 64Bit version, if you must work with files larger than 4(?)GB (I guess I must verify, what the exact size was).

As for the Winamp rewrite, we currently even have not enough resources to address some long standing issues. (a rewrite may would fix some of them, but would introduce new ones as well). The main focus of the small dev team is related to Android stuff.

Also, even if tons of forums etc are full of the "Winamp 5 is slow and bloated" people, for me, it's still the fastest and most flexible audio player.

A lot of things got massive codes changes over the last years (Unicode and localization support required a lot of changes)

The low RAM and CPU usage allowed it to run Winamp in background, even if you run a fullscreen game, the Plugin API and all of these lovely classic skins helped the player to be still popular, even after all these years.
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