The future of Panflute development

Written for Panflute by Paul Kuliniewicz on 2011-03-11

As probably surprises nobody paying attention to my (lack of) recent activity with it, I don’t have any plans to continue actively developing Panflute.

For starters, I’m doubtful whether there’s going to be much of a need for Panflute or something like it in the future. Panflute basically serves two functions: abstracting various music players’ RPC interfaces behind a common MPRIS-based front-end, and allowing said player to be controlled within a GNOME panel via an applet.

For the first, a lot of the music players out there in the Linux world today use MPRIS as their RPC interface, so there’s little need to stick another process in front of it with little to do other than serve as a pass-through proxy. Furthermore, recent versions of Rhythmbox and Banshee, two of the players with the largest user bases, have added MPRIS v2 interfaces in addition to (and eventually replacing, presumably) their original custom RPC interface. Today, a developer can support most of the players out there by writing a client that speaks MPRIS and MPRIS v2, which isn’t an unreasonable amount of work. Yes, there are a few players that still use a custom RPC interface, but development efforts would probably be better spent adding MPRIS support to them instead of using a separate application like Panflute as a translation layer.

For the second, the GNOME panel will no longer exist once GNOME 3.0 is released, which uses a different graphical shell, pretty much eliminating the use case for Panflute’s panel applet entirely. Similarly, upcoming versions of Ubuntu replace the primary GNOME interface with Unity, also eliminating the panel where applets would live. Even using the GNOME 2 interface instead of Unity, Ubuntu provides a notification area icon that basically acts as an MPRIS client itself, so there’s not much need to use Panflute in addition to that.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’d simply prefer to spend my copious free time on things other than Panflute development. My motivation for working on Panflute has been rather low for a while, and after considering the (lack of) continuing need for it, it’s sunk even lower, to the point where I really don’t see myself doing much else with it.

That’s not to say the project is necessarily dead, per se, if someone were to step up and effectively take over maintenance and development. There’s no candidates for that at the moment, though; Panflute has for the most part been a one-man show. If someone were to volunteer, I’d need to see some contributions made through patches and bug management before I felt comfortable handing control over. That’s assuming someone didn’t just decide to fork the project and go off on their own, which I’d also be OK with, not that my permission would be needed for that anyway.

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