Apple Surrenders

I am pleased see that the just released QuickTime 7.2 enables full-screen playback for all users, not just those who’ve paid extra for QuickTime Pro.

As some of you may remember, I started the Amateur Project mostly because I was pissed off that Apple wanted to charge me again to play movies in full screen mode, even though I’d already paid for QuickTime Pro once. Amateur is written in Java on top of Swing and QuickTime for Java.

Amateur became capable of playing movies in fullscreen mode fairly quickly, and it even has a few useful features Apple’s own player does not. I’ve used it for most of my media playback needs ever since. It never achieved full parity with QuickTime Pro in other features though because:

A. Apple has more or less abandoned QuickTime for Java, and many new features of QuickTime 7 and even 6 simply aren’t available from Java.

B. I’ve had limited time to work on it for the last year or so.

C. Nobody else competent ever stepped forward to contribute. A couple of dozen people did fill out a generic java.net form requesting developer privileges without contacting me first, or giving me any indication of who they were or what they wanted to do. All I got was an opaque username and a request for commit privileges. Sorry that’s not enough. I did not get a single patch or even a usable bug report from anyone.

I may yet hack on Amateur as time and interest permits. I did get some good ideas for improving the user interface at JavaOne this year. However, I don’t plan to spend a lot of time on it. Even if I or someone else were to put some serious time into Amateur, it’s ultimately too crippled by QuickTime’s poor API and worse documentation. (Even the Objective C QuickTime API should be a case study in how not to design an API.)

I suspect it would be a more effective use of my or (or anyone else’s) limited time to learn Objective C and Cocoa and start from there. Better yet, it might be worth forking VLC to skin it with a half decent interface, improve its robustness, and add the features it’s missing.

It’s also worth noting that the Perian folks have done great work supporting media CODECs even QuickTime Pro can’t handle. That’s definitely worth a look. But $30 for QuickTime Pro and $20 more for MPEG-2 support is still a ripoff.

7 Responses to “Apple Surrenders”

  1. Dave Ross Says:

    I can’t win. After months of hem-ing and haw-ing, I finally broke down and bought QuickTime Pro the Friday before 7.2 was released, JUST so I could watch videos full-screen.

  2. Asd Says:

    This illustrates the advantage of using of operating system with much more software available. Media Player Classic has been able to do that for years.

  3. Jerome Lacoste Says:

    What about VLC for Mac ?

  4. Semi Anonymous Says:

    Perhaps you should switch to JVLC (VLC for Java: http://trac.videolan.org/jvlc/ )?

    BTW: There’s an HTML bug at https://amateur.dev.java.net/ (at least in IE7). When the mouse hovers over the text after the “QuickTime for Java” link, the rest of the text on the page is highlighted.

  5. - Says:

    Any thoughts on QTKit?

  6. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    Which QTKit do you mean? There are two. Answer’s the same for both though. I haven;t really looked at either one in depth, so I don’t have any real opinion about them.

  7. Ian Phillips Says:

    Errrm, I’m pretty sure that I submitted a patch (albeit a fairly trivial one).

    But I agree that Obj-C is a better way to go forward with this.

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