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  1. #1
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    The end of third party development ?

    Could someone from Logitech management tell me why I should continue to do third party development for the Squeezebox platform ?

    Lately it has felt like a struggle, there are basically no communication whatsoever with third party developers and enhancements that would encourage and ease third party development isn't prioritized or postponed to future releases. It feels like the support for third party development has gotten worse during the last 1-2 years and today I just saw that enhancement 14194 was postponed to a future release and other bugs that ease third party development has given low priority which probably means they will also soon be postponed to future releases. I'm not saying that this is incorrect priority from a business point of view, there are probably more critical bugs than these enhancements. Actually, there are ALWAYS going to be more important bugs than supporting third party developers if you don't really see any benefit having us here.

    I understand that most of the developers at Logitech probably want third party developers to write plugins and applets, so this isn't your fault. I realize that you are probably just forced to work towards release dates that doesn't allow you to waste time doing things that encourage third party development. I also understand that it's not easy to prioritize because on one side you have requirements which needs to be implemented to beat the competition and on the other side you have third party developers that can develop killer features almost for free.

    I'm seriously starting to think that it's not worth the frustration anymore, if Logitech doesn't wan't third party development why should I spend my spare time trying to force you to waste time on developers like me ?

    I'm just mentioning bug 14194 as it was the last disappointment, this feeling is something that has grown during the last year or so.

    I'm going to think this through for a week or so before I make a decision, but at the moment I'm starting to feel that this is the end of the road for me personally. I'm starting to think it might be the best solution both for me (who gets more spare time) and for Logitech (who can solely focus on their own functionality). The main reason this is a hard decision is that I know end users will be affected when they can't use my plugins and applets anymore. However, I'm sure Logitech eventually will take care of this and implement the necessary functionality required to satisfy most users who use my plugins today.

    Yes, I realize I'm probably not going to get any response from Logitech management on this post but I felt it was a good idea to post this to at least let anyone that's interested know how I feel.

    All my plugins and applets is available on Google Code, so if anyone is interested in taking over the maintanence, let me know and I'll consider giving you commit access.

    Just to end this in a positive way. The Touch and Radio are the most exciting streaming devices I've seen, so really good work on these devices. If I decide to stop developing third party applets and plugins I still plan to continue being a happy Squeezebox user, as far as I know the new devices are better than anything else on the market.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    Lead platform developer of ickStream Music Platform - A world of music at your fingertips

    (Also developer of many plugins/applets)

  2. #2
    Senior Member Philip Meyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    The end of third party development ?

    Are there many third-party developers left?

    I have felt the same over the last couple of years. Okay, so I'm not a prolific plugin developer like you, but I have made a few and supported them over the years, but with each new SS/SC/SbS release there's been a gradual decline in development support. Each new release generally breaks a load of plugins without warning, and the original authors are not around to support them.

    I tried to get my PlaylistMan plugin to work on SBC/SqueezePlay, which I believe is a simple thing to do. I wasn't personally bothered that my plugin didn't work on SBC at the time, because I didn't own one, but I frequently got emails from users who desperately wanted a way to do some simple playlist management directly on such players. There have been several enhancement requests raised for this, and one of them got assigned to me by a developer to modify my plugin. I asked a few questions (probably simple things, I just couldn't find any documentation or know where to look in the code) several times over the last couple of years, but never got a response.

    Unfortunately, I don't think the current trend will reverse; there are less full-time developers with spare time to read the forums, due to pressures to get core software functionality out the door. In fact, there was the recent post about restricting bug reports, so it seems even more like us and them. Even in beta testing, there seem to be a lot of questions and problems mentioned, without any feedback.

    With regards to Erlands plugins: I raised an enhancement request for a basic form of automatic playlists way back in 2004 (https://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=380). 8 CC's and 26 votes. 5 years on, and there's been no official work on this at all; it must be the single most missing piece of functionality. Even Random Play is pretty much useless due to the handling of genre filtering options. This was met by Erland's excellent work on his plugins, which are so essential for many users that if this functionality was lost, I would expect users would not upgrade to newer releases, which ultimately means potentially not buying new kit. Maybe this will not be seen as an issue for Logitech initially, but in the long run it can't be good.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bluegaspode's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Berlin, Germany
    I started to write a screensafer plugin just 4 month ago or so ... but all the enthusiasm for the platform vanished as well.

    My personal frustration started with bug http://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=14528
    A simple oneliner - a simple bug where I even provided the line to fix ... was put on a bug_meeting and never since I heard of it
    Even after asking there was just silence ...

    I think if you want an open community and commiters a company needs to share a bit ... a bit of openness and care at least.
    Currently you have bugs in sort of 3 releases 8.0, 7.5, 7.4.x.
    You don't even now what the rough timelines of these releases are ... so you don't even know if its a good thing if a bug is moved from 7.5 to 7.4.x ?
    Good - because the current bugfix-release has priority ?
    Bad - because 7.5 for the touch is the current priority ?

    If not even such simple information is spread ... where do you want to put your trust on ?

    I also stopped all the applet development I had fun with ...
    Did you know: SqueezePlayer will stream all your music to your Android device. Take your music everywhere!
    Remote Control + Streaming to your iPad? Squeezebox + iPad = SqueezePad
    Want to see a Weather Forecast on your Radio/Touch/Controller ? => why not try my Weather Forecast Applet
    Want to use the Headphones with your Controller ? => why not try my Headphone Switcher Applet

  4. #4
    Senior Member pippin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Hm, while I do share your feelings (how often did I complain about this in the past?) I have to say I do have a bit of a different perspective:

    1. This isn't new. OK, I'm rather new to the party, I only started with the Squeezebox a bit more than two years ago, but since then, it's always been this way. Developers here always have been VERY, VERY supportive, but that was always just covering up the lack of strategic commitment.

    2. Why do I say this? Simple: Because there never has been a clear model on how to involve 3rd parties.
    There are no APIs other than the CLI, which is becoming more and more outdated. Any other interfaces are frequently changing and there is no formalized way to support 3rd party developers.
    This may sound formalistic, but it's really the root reason for all the annoyance because it's what causes all these changes that require all the reworking with every major or minor release. If this were more stable, 3rd parties would find it more simple to contribute and extensions would last longer.
    If Logitech saw real value in 3rd party contributions they would have changed this long ago.

    3. What we probably have NOW is the situation that former Slimdevices seems to have undergone a restructuring - not really a surprise after the founders left, these things happen.
    Plus, there's a release date, I don't assume it was meant to be after Christmas and the Touch also is probably the most important product going forward. I have full sympathy for there being other priorities right now.

    4. From what I saw in Richards post about the changed bug tracking, I smell a chance for change to the better. Don't get me wrong, I don't say that things WILL get better, but there's a chance:
    There was a claim that things are going to be more formalized.
    Hey, this is bad for us 3rd party developers, isn't it? We are not part of the formal process so this is gonna hurt us first!
    Maybe. But on the other hand, a more formal process requires things like specifications, schedules, test cases, UI schemes, maybe even licenses. All that stuff that we are currently lacking to be able to do good development.

    5. From what I see in this system, that change HAS to come or the product is doomed anyway. That fudged-up crammed together, legacy system that SBS is right now (sorry, that's my honest opinion) doesn't stand a chance given the size of a market it is in and the complexity it has developed if it doesn't get more engineering under the hood.
    Don't get me wrong. I believe Logitech have really, really good developers, they are much better than what you usually meet at such a venture. And the product also probably has the greatest potential on the market, that's why I'm here, I love this product.
    But while all of this was a cool approach for a startup phase there's a time to get professional.
    And this "get professional" involves a decision about how to proceed with 3rd party devs. I don't know any tendencies so I call it a 50/50 chance. But that's better than letting it rot.
    learn more about iPeng, the iPhone and iPad remote for the Squeezebox and
    Logitech UE Smart Radio as well as iPeng Party, the free Party-App,
    at penguinlovesmusic.com
    New: iPeng 9, the Universal App for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch

  5. #5
    Senior Member GeeJay's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Ft Worth, Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by Philip Meyer View Post

    This was met by Erland's excellent work on his plugins, which are so essential for many users that if this functionality was lost, I would expect users would not upgrade to newer releases, which ultimately means potentially not buying new kit.
    This is EXACTLY my position. As much as I'd like a Touch when it comes out, Erland's plugins are so essential to what I love about my SBs (I own 4 now), that I would not even think of upgrading if this functionality was not available.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Aesculus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Logitech needs to start with some decent developer documentation. Asking people to look at the source or former plugins should be a backup, not the primary mode of information.

    Take some time, document what you want to carry forward, and give your developers a fighting chance.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    For me the most important question about 3rd party development:

    Where is the main difference to systems from Sono & Co without 3rd party development?

    If i heard about squeezeboxes in the past i always combined it with 3rd party development. Without this "feature" i would be much more open minded when choosing an audio streaming solution from the market.


  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    I was planning on getting the a Touch when it comes out, but I'll probably also look for another transport solution if CumstomScan/CustomBrowse is not available.

  9. #9
    Former Squeezebox Guy andyg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Rest assured we (the developers) feel strongly that the licensing needs changing ASAP and we are pushing management to make the right decision. We've been through a few management changes in the past few months and that is what has led to the delay.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    I think you are onto something here.

    I was about to write a post (rant) about how logitech needs to slow down the rate of getting new products out the door. The product is really very good. But there is a ton of minor stuff(errors as well as enhancements) that needs to be ironed out. If the developers don't get a few months to do that, I really think the sales and thus product life is going to go downhill fast within a year.

    More on topic: The company needs to decide what the brand is and what makes it stand out from the crowd. As I see it the are three (four) major differences to SONOS: The negative first: 1: It needs a more powerfull server than just a cheap NAS. (Touch will change this)
    (2): It is harder to get a stable setup. There are many reasons for this. Commercial WIFI, rate of development etc.
    Then the good stuff:
    3: It is cheaper.
    4: It is immensely more versatile and flexible. A LOT of this flexibility comes from 3rd party plugins.
    So Logitech needs to decide if they just want to be the cheap brand or the cheap AND versatile brand.
    I may still write that rant even though writing this post served some steam-letting for me

    Btw I'm all into the products. My latest purchase was just a week ago.
    Last edited by Muele; 2009-11-24 at 13:19.
    BR Mogens

    2 Radios (1 battery), 2 Controllers, 2 Receivers, SqueezeCommander, OrangeSqueeze and SqueezePlayer on Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

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