The MusicBrainz server devs (Lukáš, Murdos, Acid2 and myself) have been busy hacking on new features and fixing bugs for the next server release. While we’re not quite ready for the next release, we are starting to narrow down what will be in the next release and could use your help in testing these new features.
In particular we have the new folksonomy tagging feature (tag your favorite artists, releases, label and tracks like last.fm) ready to go and would like to get your feedback on how to integrate the new feature better into our web pages.
Also, please help us test various bug fixes that we’ve made.
But, like I said, we’re not ready for the next release. I personally still have a lot of open bugs I intend to tackle, and Lukáš is working on merging another feature or two from other SVN branches. But we are far enough along that we could use your feedback. Also, since some features are still in flux, we’ve also not set a firm date for when we’re going to push this release onto the main servers — at this point we’re shooting for some time in September.
For more details on what we’ve done and where to test, please see our preliminary release notes.
I just updated the main server with the information that allows everyone to add cover art links to Jamendo. One such cover art link can be seen in JT Bruce’s release “The Dreamer’s Paradox“.
You can also look at the Jamendo blog post that gives us permission to do so.
The StructuredXHTML branch is a branch of the core mb_server behind MusicBrainz and intends to improve the website by making sure the html is as structurally correct as possible and making the layout driven predominantly by CSS. This has numerous advantages including faster rendering, better support for screen readers, and layout flexibility for users with visual impairments.
We’ve been working quietly in the background on this, but have finally got the bulk of the work down (transforming the main layout). We’re going to be gradually rolling these changes in, and as such some pages will not be immediately updated, and it’s important to make sure that they all work and display reasonably correctly.
What we need you to do is head over to our test server, which is running the StructuredXHTML branch. Browse the website just as you would usually use the normal website: viewing artist entries, looking at releases, searching for data, entering new data, moderating data – just about anything you can think of! If one of the pages looks a bit too odd, please let Oliver know by filing a bug appropriatly in our bug tracker – http://bugs.musicbrainz.org (we now have a section just for bugs on StructuredXHTML).
Here’s a list of the changes we’ve made in this first version, that will be rolled out into the next version of mb_server:
- Layout driven entirely by CSS: We’ve got rid of the tables we used to use and have made a very flexible layout that will accommodate custom text sizes better than before. It also introduces minor amounts of whitespace in certain places, with the intention to improve readability.
- A new search option in the sidebar: The current set of search fields has caused some confusion to people on there first visit. Some people have tried to combine search fields, which does not work. A new compact dropdown box search has been added to hopefully elevate this confusion. We’d love to know what you think on this – should it be the new default search option? We plan to make both search options available through user preferences.
- Search portals have been updated: The search pages (not the results yet though) have been recoded as a prototype for the way that forms are going to be handled (again, no tables).
- Browse pages: The browse by artist/label/release pages have also been updated.
Please have a thorough look through the page when you have chance. It’s key that you raise any issues you have, because this will be being merged in the future, and we’d rather keep everyone as happy as possible :-)
After users reported a number of problems (lack of enough disk space, data import problems) Rod Begbie created a new MB Server VMWare image of the 2007-04-01 release for us. To download and play with the new image, read our VirtualMusicBrainzServer wiki page.
Derek from CD Baby and I have been discussing if/how we should add CD Baby data to MusicBrainz. Given that question, I’ve taken a closer look at the CD Baby data to see what the corresponding releases in MusicBrainz look like. While there are many great looking releases that match perfectly, there are lots of cases where the data CD Baby has differs a bit from the data we have. Read the full blog entry to see some examples.
We have a few ideas on what to do and I would like to get feedback from the community at large on these ideas:
- Automatically import all of the CD Baby releases that MusicBrainz doesn’t have. Assume that CD Baby data is always correct. Channel none of these adds through the edit system.
- Provide a means to import CD Baby releases into MusicBrainz through some import system that could work like FreeDB import does now. Perhaps we could even make it a little smarter than the current FreeDB import.
- Something else. We’re open to suggestions.
What do you think? (See below for the promised examples)