so it is that christian, a gstreamer developer, thinks that kde should bet on a single media engine again as we did with aRts. this would require that we first forget the lessons we've learned and ignore the real-world test cases of amaroK, juk, kaffeine and others.
specifically, the day that gstreamer or any other media engine provides:
- a believable API/ABI stability guarantee that covers kde4's lifespan
- an API that is easy enough to use for casual development (bonus points for fitting in nicely with KDE's API)
- availbility on every platform that KDE supports (that's more than linux; it's even more than open source platforms for that matter)
- a solid user experience
then we can think about ditching somethign like phonon.
we learned with aRts that one size does not fit all and that over time media engine trends change. the ltsp people right now are struggling to find a media engine that does really solid network media, particularly video. i've discovered that gstreamer isn't able to give me a good sound experience for amarok (to state it kindly). and i wonder what the people on macos or windows think?
reality is that different people will pick different things. it's not our job, as a desktop environment and not a systems integrator, to try and dictate the usage of a media engine particularly when it comes at the expense of user experience. we can and should certainly push for standardization by supporting and even spearheading those efforts (ever notice who the main developers in the portland project are?), but reality meets wishful thinking when it comes to multimedia right now.
christian is probably right that the high end of media apps such as studio-quality media creation apps will need more power than what phonon can offer. but for 99%+ of desktop applications out there, that power is meaningless. they don't need something that powerful when it's also sporting a complex, foreign API and only works or is available on 1/N support platforms. this is why most open source desktop apps that could or should have media support tend not to (think: video clips in presentation apps; or audio recordings in note takers).
phonon is providing things like access to basic recording, effects and visualizations; it is more than "just playback" and should cover the overwhelming majority of needs quite well. so let the <1% of applications written that need ultrahorsepower multimedia framework access surf the tumultuous seas of multimedia uncertainty; the rest of the desktop deserves better and we can deliver that to them today.
but something christian obviously doesn't "get" is the benefit of writing an app that works with a "host of media frameworks". christian erected the following strawman: "The reasoning is that no framework 'does it all' so having this flexibility is a good thing." good thing that isn't what we're thinking because that would be stupid. no, the benefit to working with a "host of media frameworks" is that you gain portability both between different operating systems today as well as between the same operating system today and tomorrow. been there done that with aRts and gstreamer isn't any better on that front; then again, no media system currently is.
now ... i can understand how this might be frustrating from a media framework developer's perspective, but perhaps they could step back for a moment and try and understand how frustrating the multimedia world is for a desktop project right now.
honestly, people writing media engines should write media engines instead of trying to politic the desktop environments for their support (gstreamer isn't the only or even worst project in this category, btw). instead how about writing something so good, so solid, so portable and so easy to write applications with it that it becomes the obvious answer and then we can stop having this conversation. and when that is achieved, we'll be right there in a very good adoption position due to phonon not having wedded us to some other media framework. until then, we'll continue to make sure our users, system integration partners and 99% of our application developers are looked after thank you very much.