Songbird – Play the web! February 15, 2008
Posted by oktyabr in audio, cross platform, listen to this, musik links, open source, other cool stuff, software, web.
Songbird is a cross-platform web browser based on mozilla… that also finds music for you on the web… that also plays music, both from the web and your local drives… and acts as a music organizer letting you categorize, sort, search, and re-discover your tunes and playlists! Did I mention that it’s a web browser?!?!
The official blurb:
Songbird is developed by a band of experienced, dedicated software developers and designers called the Pioneers of the Inevitable. Our previous hatchlings include Winamp and the Yahoo! Music Engine.
Seriously, even if Songbird was OS dependent I still can’t think of another application on any operating system that does everything Songbird does… or even comes close! And even though it’s still a “developer’s beta” it easily finds a place on my short list of “the best open source cross-platform software EVER”!
So here is how it works… you start the application (assuming you didn’t hesitate in downloading and installing it already!) and it looks like a… hmmm… a web browser with some interesting looking extra buttons on it.
This is the default view of the default skin and with the exception of some bookmarks I’ve added for such things as shoutcast.com and pandora this is the way it comes “out of the box”. Note that I’ve entered a search for “Eddie Money” just as an example…
And this is what you get:
As you can see, the included search engine, skreemr.com, briskly scans it’s directory for music files matching your search request. By default your search terms can appear in whole or partially in any field in it’s results including artist, album, song name or even file name, which can be quite different from the song name. Advanced search does what you would expect. The bottom pane in the shot above displays the search results that are available to download or stream!
“Yeah, but isn’t that illegal?” Searching for music files? Nope. The rest is somewhat open to interpretation in these regards and I won’t go into a long diatribe here about my personal opinion on the matter, at least not at this time. Direct from Songbird’s homepage:
We don’t steal music and you shouldn’t either. We support DigitalConsumer.org‘s Bill of Rights as the best means to a burgeoning, diverse and lawful digital media market.
Hey, I did say it was a web browser too! That means you can check your email, read a good blog or two, whatever you would do in your regular browser from within Songbird:
Of course that includes listening to net’ radio broadcasts which in most cases will play in Songbird just like it would in your usual media player or in the case of websites with integrated playback, like www.pandora.com, the music will play in the browser frame itself just as if you were using your regular web browser:
Like any good music management software Songbird is capable of scanning, sorting and playing most any music format found on a local hard drive as well. In my example Songbird dealt nicely with over 5000 files in my personal collection, both of downloaded mp3s and oggs as well as my preferred format for CD ripping, FLAC:
How about support for skins? Forgot to fill in all the blanks on your ID3 tag maker during that last late night rip?
No, Songbird isn’t a complete, stable piece of software yet, but it is still very usable! Some features are sure to stand out as lacking such as support for portable mp3 players and other storage devices (sync with ipods for example) and it certainly has a bug or two (it can be difficult to get the edit box to end up in the frame you want it in, as an example) but that’s why they released it as a “developer’s release” in the first place! Like squishing bugs? Got some solid programming experience and would like to contribute? This current version is for people like you!
All in all I find Songbird to be a very impressive piece of technology. Software based on an open source web browser that takes music and the internet together where no other piece of software has as of yet, and on multiple platforms to boot!
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