Open Projects in URL Playlists

This document is a listing of useful things that hackers interested in URL playlists could take on. If you don't know what a URL playlist is, see this introduction. The date of this writing is October 30, 2003.

  1. A web service to convert back and forth between formats: Input: any standard playlist format. Output: any standard playlist format.

  2. Link checker web service: Given a playlist, generate a new playlist in the same format with dead links stripped. (Jim Nachlin has created beta software to do this).

  3. Maintain a directory: Do something like the Drudge Report -- a list of new playlists and links to blogged playlists like the one at hublog. (Brett Singer has begun something like this.)

  4. A caching client: This would take the URL of a playlist in any of the common formats, download all the remote resources to a cache directory, and adjust the paths in the original playlist to reflect the new local location.

    This is needed because the abysmal caching of current playlist renderers causes excessive load on servers and stuttering during playback. It is also needed because multimedia URLs tend to go stale fairly quickly. It is also needed because users may want to listen offline.

    It would be nice for this to be able to run in the background as an overnight job, so that users on slow lines would also be able to listen. It would be nice for this to be able to delete all the cached files in a playlist. It would be nice for this to manage the cache size by deleting older files automatically when the size gets beyond a certain limit. It would be nice if this managed a list of subscriptions to regularly updated playlists.

  5. Extend Facil-o-SMIL: Repackage this as a Blosxom plugin. Make a Blogger interface. Make a nice installer. Make a CVS repository and mailing list for hacking it. Or, just starting using it and contribute patches as the need arises.

  6. Documentation: Where to find MP3s. How to do fancy things in SMIL. How to play a playlist in iTunes by importing it.

  7. Solve SMIL problems: Figure out how to have more than one image per song. Look for tricks that will enable Real to deal with missing URLs, if this is at all possible.

  8. Figure out HTML+Time: It is inevitable that playlists will be renderable as SMIL, M3U or HTML+Time, but nobody's figured out the HTML+Time bits yet.

  9. A server-side aggregator: This would spider a list of URLs that are known to be more or less playlists and generate RSS-like output. The output might even be RSS, though my first look at using RSS itself for this wasn't encouraging.

  10. Write a wishlist: Look deep in your soul and ask what features you need.

  11. Do user testing: Get a nontechnical friend to try to play existing playlists and take notes on problems they encounter. In our geek ghetto we don't have a clear picture of the problems.

  12. Map playlist space: Write a vizualizer connecting playlists with shared elements.

  13. Browser based playlist editor: The one, the only, the legendary. User testing and big budgets are good, but ultimately the One True Way is to throw mud at the wall and see what sticks.

  14. Add to this list: Having cleanly defined bugs and features helps people who find themselves with a bit of time on their hands to get straight to work.

I'd be happy to host any of these implemented as a web service.