I do a bit of development with VLC for my work and for fun. I’m just a baby multimedia hacker, but hunting for bugs in VLC and writing new features has given me a ton of experience in wading through giant code bases, as well as tons and tons of experience searching for hard to find bugs using debugging tools like valgrind or gdb. Its also given me a good opportunity to understand how digtial multimedia works, and actually understand complex code like encoders, muxers, etc. All that aside though, I mostly deal with using VLC to stream things, and have always had reservations about the GUI that VLC used. The current stable uses a wx interface, and any of you who have used VLC know what this looks like. Its not overly obtuse, it doesn’t look bad, and its fairly intuitive, but wx isn’t widely used enough in any platform that VLC has a native look and feel. Other problems, mentioned in this blog post by the VLC developer j-b explains a bit more of why Qt is taking over WX in VLC. In case you don’t know what VLC looks like on linux/windows, heres a screenshot of the old wx interface (stripped of the window borders)
I’m happy to report though, that VLC has migrated to a Qt based gui that I have to say, is a lot nicer. The basic controls haven’t moved much, but the subtle changes here and there give it a much nicer feel than it used to have. You have to grab a nightly build in order to see the new changes, but that can easily be grabbed here. Look out though, some things might not work, remember nightlies are experimental/unstable versions! Anyway, here’s a picture of the shiny new interface VLC sports.
In addition to the new interface, there are many other new features that have been incorporated in the 0.9 release. Reworked filters provide for better A/V modifications on the fly ( I helped out a bit with the audio transcoding chain 😀 ). There’s still the same support for any codec you can imagine (almost, of course), as well as support for advanced audio streaming features like RTCP (used to sync A/V data over a network) as well as many other new backend improvements that are extremely useful if you do any serious A/V streaming work. There will probably be another blog post in the near future about all the goodies power users get with VLC 0.9 😀
Currently, the code base is in feature freeze, and all dev’s are encouraged to pin down and eliminate outstanding bugs before the alpha versions of VLC go out in a few weeks. I’m real excited about the new features coming out in the 0.9 release, so expect great improvements over the 0.8.6x releases that you’ve been seeing for the past few years. The Swiss army knife of media players is finally getting a shiny new veneer without sacrificing any of the power under the hood!