Development blog up and running!

Welcome to the development blog of Codename: Väth! Väth is the next-generation of Helium related products, developed from the ground up.

In order to be competitive not only when it comes to features but also in the ever-changing field of computer platforms we need to move the existing code base to new environments.

What do we mean by all this? What does it mean for you as a user?

First of all, we plan on being entirely transparent in our work so that you as a user will know what’s going on and in what direction we are heading. We can’t give any detailed answers about exactly how the final product will look right now. What we CAN do is to assure you that we will do everything in our power to build on the foundation of the Helium products of today.

There will be significant changes in some ares, while others will be left intact. We will continue to have a strong focus on performance and the user experience. We will add new functionality but will also remove features that just don’t make sense any longer.

We will continuously post about our progress of the development of the next generation Helium product here and hope to receive early feedback from our ever-growing community of users.

Next blog post will let you in on some of the technologies we have chosen to work with for the new product line. Coming blog posts will go more into detail about what we are working on and what benefits this will give when ready.

Do you have any questions, comments, complaints or any other kind of feedback? Let us know in the comments!

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40 thoughts on “Development blog up and running!

  1. We’re glad to hear that you want to hear about this! We have enough technical details to share to fill several blog posts so stay tuned!

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  2. Hm, at the moment for me this anouncement sounds more like a threat than a promise. What will happen with Helium Music Manager? Is it abondened? Will it be substituted or suplemented? I fear the worst.

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    1. We can assure you that this was certainly not meant to be a threat, quite the opposite. We can understand your fear and confusion though and this is exactly why we have created this blog. We want to let all our existing users in on our decisions. We want to hear about which things that are most important to keep as is, but also what features that users really don’t use or care about any longer.

      To answer your questions: Helium Music Manager is not being abandoned, it’s not being substituted, it’s being rebuilt on a new technical platform. As we are doing this we will make thoughtful changes here, add new features there and yes, even remove some old obsolete features in some areas.

      We don’t plan on any BIG changes to the user interface and functionality. The new Helium is currently planned to look, feel and work like the Helium you know today. As we said in the post and on the About page, we can’t give all details at once since we don’t have them yet. Things will crystallize as time goes.

      Constructive feedback is what we need right now. Thanks for following us on this and giving us your feedback. It’s highly appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I suggest that the software and audio playing hardware should be (1) less strongly coupled to each other, amongst with additional features such as (2) (3) synchonous multiroom playing abilities over the network (like software netJACK does).

    (1) I have a Wireless HDMI device (it’s an USB stick on the computer side), that MAY get disconnected because somebody is standing in line of sight of the signal between the transmitter (PC) and the receiver (Audio set). If connection is broken, Helium playing abilities break down too because the audio playing device has gone.
    (2) Playing to a remote PC (or portable device) over the network with (for example) netJack implementation wise solution, built in into Väth?
    (3) Playing to the same music to multiple audio outputs at the same time from one source (Väth), highly preferably fully synchronous!! However setting up standalone netJack is a pain! I’d like to see this built into Väth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe this is similar functionality that I would like to see in Helium. For example I have an Onkyo amp on my network. I can bluetooth or WiFi to it from my Android phone and play stuff from PowerAmp. I would love to be able to sit in my armchair and connect to my amp through Helium and stream music to through DLNA. I think I’ve asked this question in the past only to be told that this isn’t one of Helium’s main functions.
      Apart from that rant!, I love Helium as it can suck in all my CDs onto a fileserver and I can easly tag them. I can then play them through DLNA via my amp without Helium, but theres no scope for cross mixing tracks and cutting out the silence that happens on prog rock albums while the amp loads the next track. Helium does a grand job of this when playing tracks on the PC.

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      1. It may not solve everything you are looking for but have you tried using our Android-app? You can connect it through Bluetooth to your Onkyo amplifier.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi. I think it’s a good idea to re-check about the program.

    I think the program should be running stabile and fast on all machines. No matter which machine somebody has, no matter which programs are used on the machine and no matter how big the databases are (for example databases with 1.000, 100.000 or 500.000 entries) – it has to be stabile and FAST.

    All views should be used, created and saved differently. For example once I open the playlist in album browser it shouldn’t be open in MIB. Each view should be differently and unique.

    All data that somebody enters in HMM should be put out somehow as report, PDF, Doc, Excel, HTML etc.. And I mean ALL DATA. Artist biographies, Artist discographies, reviews, Album information, who played guitar on the tracks, who is the writer. All information should be seen in reports. So then it would make sense to enter more and more detailed data, if all information is usable.

    Ok, we have the artist view but once somebody the playing guitar on some tracks or albums you cannot find the information anywhere. And not just as before in reports but for example in MIB or in Artist view or in a new “Musicians view”. If this will be done somehow, the entered information will be getting useable too.

    It should be good to enter artists manually. To enter information. And/Or to save information. Once you create a new database all information before will be lost. Or you delete one album and re-enter it into HMM all information will be gone (Biography is saved in the tags). But Helium should save this information (for example birthday, Country, relations, biographies, playing counter etc. (and NOT in the tags but in the database). Once you delete something (for re-structure or else) Helium should find this information once you enter the music files again.

    Better artist pages with more details and more and bigger pictures possible (for example a collage out of an artist folder) and full picture viewing of album artworks (Booklets, Sleeves etc…) (Not out of TAG but from an artwork-subfolder of an album but linked and viewable in Helium.

    Creating summarized artists with sub-artists. For example to create Prince is a summarized artist. It starts with sub-artists Prince, Prince and the Revolution, TAFCAP, Symbol, Prince and the NPG, NPG etc. You can do something today with “artist” and “album artist” it is only a compromise. You will not have fully discographies at all under Helium today.

    These are only some ideas about a Future Helium. It would be great if you think about it.

    Best Regards
    Astronom

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    1. Interesting ideas; some I’d agree with, but others not so much. I mean … in my non-musician usage I don’t really care who is playing guitar as long as it sounds good. Understanding such detail is important to some, it may be less important to others. Storing and retrieving this level of detail should be an optional toggle as it would undoubtedly cause more latency. Which brings us to your opening statement – speed. There is an amount of processing required for each and every bit of information retrieved from online sources and databases alike. When one asks for more information they are by default asking for more intense processing (we users translate that into less speed). There’s a “give and take” involved when we ask for more data. This pulls us full circle into the option to disable the “musician” view as it were.

      I do agree with the “collage” effect. Zune does it well; to have such interface would be pretty sweet; but also understand such may be graphically intensive thus making the application “feel” slower. (yes, I just said the application feels; bad form I know).

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    1. We haven’t investigated Sonos specifically but universal plug and play (UPnP) and digital living network alliance (DLNA) support is on the wish-list so we will need to come back to this subject later on in the development.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I would like to se HMM on OSX. There is no good alternative to HMM and iTunes is still a mess.
    So I’m running HMM in a virtual machine and its mostely working fine. But there are many many users without the knowledge to use VM’s or don’t like windows – as I do 😉

    Astronom’s post is is very interesting. That would need two different databases – one for all music available and one for informations only. When a user delete a rack or album all infos can be moved to the info database before. When adding music again, all infos are available Why not build a net database for that, similar to freedb or last.fm but in a HMM structure? Every user can decide to share or not, to use it or not.

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    1. Even though there are no immediate plans on OSX support, the new platform will give us greater flexibility regarding multi platform support. We are building entirely upon the .NET platform which gives us possibilities to target both OSX and Linux, either through the Mono project (http://www.mono-project.com/) or using the relatively recently open sourced compiler Roslyn compiler platform (https://github.com/dotnet/roslyn).

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    1. We have read your comment and will take everything into consideration during development. We plan on releasing early beta versions with very limited functionality so that users can get a feel of where we are going and so that we can get early feedback on what’s working and what’s not. We’ll post more information about this on the blog when it’s time for this.

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  6. Please ensure there is a 100% secure privacy mode.

    I have no interest in sharing my usage habits with anyone, especially if that information is to be parsed to ‘add value’ to a service or product I do not use. Nor do I have a need for a music manager that requires an internet connection for anything else than updates.

    Thank you.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. Privacy is important to us so we will always provide ways for users to be private and anonymous should they wish to.

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    1. There hasn’t been any specific decisions regarding dropped features yet. We are currently juggling with new foundations for tag editing, adding of files to the database and some other vital mandatory stuff. We are sending out a survey to current users of Helium Music Manager 11 to see which features are being used most and which aren’t receiving any love no more. This will help us in gaining a better understanding of how the application is being used today but we like to keep things open until we can send out some early prototypes to receive input before making the hard decisions.

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  7. I agree with Astronom’s comments regarding storing of information. The music file should not be a database of information. Its sole purpose is to store the musical piece. The database should be the central repository of all related information with pointers to external files (eg. music files) where required.

    – I prefer to have my own repository, i.e. folders and files, for storing my music collection – I do not want Vath to grab all the music files and store them in some other form and/or in some internal application location.

    – I also add my vote for support of privacy and anonymity.

    Looking forward to hearing more as your development plans progress and wish you success in making Vath the best music management app out there!

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  8. I need a simple way to synchronize to mobile devices (whole library AS well AS playlists) with the possibility to convert to another Format (e.g. loser bit rate) in this process.

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  9. I’d wish for something bring more modular. So that I could choose if in need of an artist browser, or the basic tagger or a playlistbrowser or any other component.
    And I really muss the ability to run multiple Browser views of same type, each of them allowing different content from each other. Perhaps eben as split screen/tree.
    Not to mention that albumversion handling needs an improovment. It’s tricky to store multiple albumversions while artist&albumtitle are the same.
    And hopefully the New program doesnt end up as Windows trying to create the loweyt common denominator for the sake to ne used on touch aswell as on desktop environments. Different usw concepts so require unique interfaces if they should offer the Best userexperience.

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  10. Actually, Stefan’s modular approach seems the most logical as it would allow users to pick and choose what gets loaded (eg: combat latency) in addition to reliving the burden of development for the IS staff (eg: releasing modules based on popularity).

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  11. I would really love to see two features added.
    1-Volume normalization in the audio stream, not via some tag that may or may not be used by different software/hardware/players.To bring the songs with low volume up.
    2-A feature to re-rip a single song or an entire album from it’s orginal CD without losing existing tags. Or queeing all the albums you want to re-rip and just stick the CD in and Helium recognize the album and update the audio stream without affecting the tags.

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  12. Like a few people here, this type of an announcement worries me. I have been using the network version of Helium a while now. Since version 7. To give a little background of me, I am a music collector. (I also work for a group of radio stations) Back in the day when I first started collecting digital music was way back when Napster was a thing. Since then my collection has grown significantly. I started out using WinAmp to organize my paltry collection. Then I moved “up” to Music Match Jukebox. But I was rapidly discovering that my collection was exceeding the limits of MMJB to be able to catalog my music. When I discovered Helium it was a god send. Something that could work with MySQL and store the information in a real database.

    Now I use the Helium Network version so that I can have multiple users (aka family) be able to access my collection and stream audio with the Helium Streamer.

    Keep in mind that I work in radio and, I know full well that there are a number of software vendors that do cataloging and scheduling. We use Gselector for our system. It is the Cadillac of music scheduling (and a price tag to match)

    I have no personal need for such a scheduler! I certainly do not need a price tag that exceeds your usual network price.

    It worries me because the same thing happened to my favorite FTP software.(different company)
    They started out with a $20 price tag… then upped it to $35. The split the versions into professional and home the home for $35 (seriously stripped of features) and $85 for the pro. Then they came out with three versions $50 for the crippled version, $125 for the not so crippled version and $500 for the uncrippled version 500!!!! they were insane!

    So Please do not follow that level of insanity.
    I love your product! Don’t force me to look elsewhere!

    Like

    1. Thanks for your comment. We understand your concern.

      I’d like to take the opportunity to mention that we have no intentions of raising the price. We want a low threshold to getting all the features in Helium and we are actually currently discussing whether we should still have three different versions when we release Väth (Free, Premium and Network).

      It’s likely that there will only be a Free and a Premium version, where the Premium version will contain similar features that are currently restricted to the Network version.

      Please note that this is not yet decided on, but at least you know what we’re aiming at.

      Like

  13. I think I’m also a user “from the beginning” of HMM. Then, starting using HMM, I posted a lot of ideas especially for Audiobook Management. I arranged my self with the existing functionality – it’s not optimal and none of the suggested features ever were implemented… If you plan a new Version… the user (me and the others) don’t really have a benefit simply of “new technology”. Either you decide to keep HMM up to date and future-save or not… You migrate HMM to new technologies… I’m happy to have a fancy, stylish up to date UI – but seriously I don’t care the “technology”! I care about: it’s running stable, it’s running fast and I get the features and use cases I need for my music library and audiobook collection! It’s up to you to decide how high the investment for a migration is. I would support you anyway and buy a new version, even if the functionality is not cut. And if you listen to an audiobook enthusiast with a very little feature wishlist… all is fine 😉

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    1. Thanks for your comment. We see where you’re coming from. Technology by itself is not the only reason that we are doing this, but it’s a large part and I definitely understand that many users are only interested in the features and not the technical details behind it. We will try to post a little bit of both in the upcoming blog posts. Feel free to post your thoughts about how we could handle audio books better!

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      1. Just digged my Outlook Archive to get an idea about “which technology” was established all around the globe when I purchased HMM v1.7 beta 2 in Feb 2001. (sorry wiped my emails when I used v1.2 might have been millenium or earlier) HMM is amongst very few software solutions I kept using for more but a decade now. And I don’t have an idea about how much code snippets (ported/adopted/whatsoever) are within the actual HMM but I assume that some of the basic concepts are still more or less based upon the possibilities the development environment did offer that time. (sections not being completely rewritten already).
        You’ll get my vote for warping the code onto an uptodate technology … since from scratch I’d assume I’m in need of HMM for another decade. And I rate the chances pretty low that someone would pop up with a real competitor. This didn’t happen throughout all the past 15 years, so it likely continues like that for the upcoming years. 😉

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  14. a) Genre structure based on four tables in relation to each other. (Please contact me for details)
    b) Floating windows.
    c) Opportunities to dock windows in various panels (As Adobe premiere pro)
    d) Opportunities to save user settings for wich activity you are performing in HMM. (Listening, party, taging, etc)
    e) Opportunities for private or public use of the software.
    f) Offer cloud service for backup of database and even music files.
    g) Separate secure channel for remote software support purposes only.
    h) Implement video playback.

    For HMM users who do not see privacy as an issue:
    (Know that these proposals will create many reactions)
    1) A common HMM database on the web where users can build up metadata in a manner consistent as wikipedia. These data should HMM users have the option to download for free to its own database if desired. (Why should 1000s of HMM lovers build their own metadata in only their own computers?)
    2) Opportunities to share their database with other HMM useres. (Connecting the users)
    3) Opportunities in HMM for other users to steam my music.
    4) Internal file sharing in HMM for music artists wich have released their licensing for free.

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  15. @HootanRoosta: .NET is very quick and adds very good stability when implemented the correct way. C++/raw is in theory quicker, but should not be used for this kind of applications. When working with optimized classes, generic database drivers and so, performance will be really good.

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  16. First I should say that my interest is in classical music, although I have a bunch in my nearly 50,000 mpg files that are not classical. I use the “title” and “subtitle” lables a great deal so, for example, the title might be Symphony No 1 and the subtitle would would be the name of the separate movements, e.g. Allegro; Moderato; Vivace, etc. or the title could be “Die Mestersinger” and the subtitles the 40 or 50 arias, ensembles, choruses etc that make up a huge opera.

    Second, I want to get ride of iTunes and use Helium exclusively. But my use of title and subtitle presents a problem if I try to sync with an iPhone or iPad since “Symphony No 1” four times tells me nothing with out the allegro etc and Die Mestersinger 50 times is even more frustrating. I CAN concatenate the title with subtitle using Actions, but I would hope that you would include an option to concatenate those fields automatically when they are being synced with the iPhones etc of this world. That way I can continue to use the wonderful abilities that you have in HMH to catalog my music as I like.

    And one thing I like to do is to structure one of the Options to include composers so I would also hope that you would find some way to give me the ability to use the Initial Capital Letter option that is available elsewhere. In fact, I’d really like to have at least three such options.

    That said, I look forward to the new edition of one of my favorite programs. . . . and when the worst thing you can do with my request it to say “no” why not make it?

    Like

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