Monthly Archives: December 2003

Server Updates

Changes mainly of interest to MusicBrainz Users

Linking to MusicBrainz

(This feature by Robert Kaye)

One of the main aims of MusicBrainz has always been to provide unchanging,
globally-unique identifiers for various music-related things (artists,
albums, tracks).  Until recently these identifiers have been all too
hard to find and use. 

The official “permanent” way of linking to HTML web pages for MusicBrainz
artists, albums and tracks is now like this, using the 128-bit globally
unique identifier (GUID) values:

To make it easier to link to artists, albums and tracks as you find them,
there are now two new links next to each linkable item:

Permanent link is a link to the permanent URL, so if you
just want to get the URL without any fancy markup, then you can use your
browser to copy the URL behind these links to your clipboard.

Link to this takes you to a page where you can
choose what appearance you want your link to have, then copy the HTML
provided so you can paste it into your web page (or web log, etc).

Releases

(This feature by Dave Evans with help from Matthias Friedrich)

A Release is when a particular album (or single, etc) was made
available in a particular country on a particular date.  For example,
you could say that the single
White Flag
was released in the United Kingdom in 2003.

The date part of a release can be just a year (e.g. 1977), or a
year and a month (July 1977) or a specific day (12th July 1977).

When searching for albums, or showing a list of albums on the “show artist”
page, the first known release date is shown for each album.  On the
latter page, albums are listed (within release type) by first release date, in
forward chronological order.  Albums with no release data will have
no known first release date.  Albums with a first release date are
listed first, then the ones without.

Releases are edited using the Release Editor page, which works much
like the Album Editor.  It’s based on your session cookie, so
you can only edit one album’s releases at a time.  The main way in
which it’s different from the Album Editor is that when you’ve finished, all
the changes you make are entered as a single moderation.  Hence a
single “Edit Releases” moderation may include, say, two releases to add and
one to edit. 

“Edit Releases” moderations are auto-moderated if no releases are being
removed, and EITHER there are no releases being edited OR the user is an
automoderator.  This should make it possible to initially add a lot of
“release” data without having to vote it all through.

Log In Permanently

When you log in, there are now two extra tick box options:
“Log in permanently” and “Only from this IP address”. 

By choosing “Log in permanently” you will be sent a non-session cookie (it
expires after one year) including your user name and a hashed form of your
password.  When you close and restart your browser, instead of having
to log in to MusicBrainz again, this “permanent” cookie will be detected and
you will automatically be logged in straight away.  You will only have
to log in again if the cookie expires or is deleted, or if you click
“Logout” (which causes this cookie to be deleted), or if your password is
changed.

By choosing “Only from this IP address” you gain some little protection
against someone maliciously “stealing” your MusicBrainz cookies and trying
to use them to log in as you – your cookies will only be valid when used
from your IP address.

As part of the “Log in permanently” feature it was necessary to update the
way in which you update your password – you must now enter your old (existing)
password in order to change it to something else.  Some simple rules
now apply to passwords to ensure that the password isn’t too easy to guess:
new passwords must be at least six characters long, and must be neither all
letters nor all numbers.  Finally, password changing is now done on a
separate page, not the main “update my profile” page.

Moderation Suggestion Reports

(This feature by Matthias Friedrich and Dave Evans)

All the “moderation suggestion reports” have been completely rewritten;
the main visible change is that instead of producing a single (sometimes
VERY long) page per report, each report is now split over a series of pages,
like when you browse over moderations, artists or albums.  This
generally means that the reports are much faster and nicer to use.

There is one completely new report, called “Tracks with broken featuring
artist tags”.  This report looks for tracks which should, but don’t,
say “Foo (feat. Bar)” – for example, “Foo featuring Bar” would be in this
report.  Next to each track found is a link to edit that track’s
name.  The editing is done in a pop-up window.  If the report
thinks it knows what the track name should be, then the link says “Suggest”,
and clicking on the link opens the pop-up with the new track name pre-filled
in with what it thinks the new name should be.  All you have to do is
make sure it guessed right and submit the form.

Editing

When a moderation fails in an unusual way (e.g. failed prerequisite, internal
error) the ModBot now always adds a note describing exactly
what went wrong.  (This was partially implemented before; the gaps have
now been filled in).

The “edit track name” page now shows the warning about pending moderations,
when appropriate.

When adding [non-album tracks], it is now mandatory to
enter a moderation note – you are strongly encouraged to provide some URL
with “evidence” as to what the track is.  A “Guess Case” button has
also been added.

When changing a “Various Artists” track (particularly when first converting
an album to Various Artists), the track name is now split in the correct
place more often.  This fixes bug #854750.

When adding artists, or moving a track to a new artist, it is now possible
to create a new artist with the same name as another artist’s alias
(bugs #788282, #837930).

The “Add Artist” page now has a “Guess Case” button.  It also has a
button to copy the artist name into the artist sortname (but this should be
exactly the same as leaving the sortname blank).

Previously some users experienced a Javascript error while merging artists
or moving albums.  This bug has now been fixed.

The “Guess Case” buttons now put these words in lower case when within
parentheses: acoustic instrumental live demo skit.

Other Changes

The “top moderators” sidebar panel has been replaced by the “top voters”
panel.

When browsing moderations (e.g. when voting), closed moderations now say
“Closed”, instead of “Expires” or “Expired”.  The little red “X” that
you had to click on to delete a moderation has now been changed to a much
more obvious textual link saying “Delete mod”.

A “fix” (run on demand by the MusicBrainz server administrators)
script has been created to find and fix track names which should say “Foo
feat. Bar”, but don’t.  (by Matthias Friedrich)

There is a “fix” script
which recalculates the “modpending” count (and thus, for example, removes
the “mod pending” highlight from things which actually have no mods pending). 
This script had been out of date and useless for a while; it has now been
rewritten and is now up-to-date and useful again.

The “Tag lookup” form has been added to
the main search page,
the idea being to make it easier to do a combined artist+album+track search.

The very old, very out-of-date downloads of the MySQL and Access databases
have been removed from the downloads page.

New and Changed Documentation

Changes mainly of interest to MusicBrainz Server Programmers

Two missing foreign keys have been added: moderationnote to moderator, and
moderationnote to moderation.

At server startup, we now pre-load many Mason components, for faster
subsequent response, and for a smaller memory footprint.

A SQL interpolation bug fix in TRM->GetTRMFromTrackId
has been fixed.

Bugs and RFEs Closed

Dave Evans