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Wednesday, February 22, 2006


iPodDrop v1.3

Well, it has been quite a while since I posted about iPodDrop. I toyed around a bit with getting Explorer context menus working, but I've got a lot of other projects going, so I haven't really been in the mood to hack on it.

What I'm thinking of doing is just rolling the current build of v1.3 into a release. It's been so long since the last release that I might as well just release what I have now. The changelog is short, but the impact on the user interface is enormous. Here's the changelog:

- Hide ffmpeg output while encoding
- While encoding, show text-based progress bar, percentage, realtime multiplier, and estimated time until completion
- Tweaked aspect ratio detection to produce better guesses (This is purely cosmetic anyhow)

Short, yes. But the second change there is huge from a usability standpoint. ffmpeg doesn't show any sort of estimate, or even a percentage. The only progress indicator it provides is the number of seconds of content encoded. But since iPodDrop knows how long the video file is, it can compare the known length and the amount encoded to generate a percentage. And iPodDrop can also use that percentage to figure out roughly how long it will take to finish encoding. This is the coolest thing about it, I think, seeing the estimate.

So, yes, this is just a cosmetic change, and it isn't really super special. But it makes such a huge difference.

Here's a screenshot of v1.3 in action:

Hosted by SuprFile.com
Image being hosted by my new website, suprfile.com ;)

As a comparison, here is a screenshot of v1.2 (click to zoom):

Hosted by SuprFile.com

Yeah, all that ffmpeg output is interesting, but not very useful to the average user who just wants to know when their damned file is going to be done.

Anyhow, you'll notice that the ascii art used is a bit primitive. This is because .NET 1.1 only provides the most basic console functionality. No colours, no moving the cursor, none of that. However, you can use \r to move back to the beginning of the current line. Which is how I provide the status on the same line.

I'd like to have closed the bottom of that text dialog, and used some colours. Those sorts of features, unfortunately, require .NET 2.0. That's rare enough that I don't think it is a fair requirement for now. As for the reason why I'm using pipes and dashes instead of proper line chars, that has to do with how .NET doesn't use straight ASCII (Like most languages it has moved to 2-byte encoding), and how I didn't really want to research the proper way to output the line characters from the extended ascii set. I think the current method works well enough anyhow.

I'll probably release the source with v1.3 when I put it out. Which will probably be in a few days when I get around to it. I'll likely us the existing Creative Commons license I mentioned a while ago. The code really needs to be cleaned up and commented before I release it, but I'm not going to bother. The fact that people know that I was being lazy while coding it should help spare me from too much embarrassment ;)

iPodDrop is amazing. Thanks!
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