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fre:ac development status update 02/2020 Print
Written by Robert   
Thursday, 05 March 2020 00:42

Hi all, here is the fre:ac development status update for January and February 2020. It's been two really busy months which is why I skipped posting an update for January. This leaves two beta updates, a 1.0.x service release and some interesting changes for the upcoming 1.1 release candidate to cover in this issue.

fre:ac 1.1 beta 2

fre:ac 1.1 beta 2 was released mid January and I already covered the most important changes in the December status update - fixes for SuperFast LAME encoding and support for accent colors on Windows 10.

The remaining changes for beta 2 are:

  • Logs now contain total duration and speed of conversions
  • Logs now list names of active DSP components
  • Fixed inability to update ID3v2 and APEv2 tags in the tag editor
  • Fixed inability to interact with topmost windows when a modal window is active
  • Fixed random crashes at program launch and exit on Haiku

fre:ac 1.1 beta 3

The third beta release followed in mid February and brought some usability improvements and bug fixes. The most visible change likely is support for dark mode on Windows 10. fre:ac now adjusts its color scheme when the preferred application mode is set to dark in Windows 10's theme settings.

Other changes for Windows users include the installer now being code signed, meaning no more red warning screens when running it and no more "Unknown developer" warnings when requesting installation privileges. Also, the uninstaller is now reachable via the "Add/Remove Programs" feature, placing it where most users would expect to find it.

The update also introduced a DSP information field in the status area, stating whether DSP processing is enabled and if so, which filters are selected. This makes it immediately visible when e.g. speech processing filters like noise reduction are still active even though they should be off for music conversion.

Besides those, the beta 3 release fixed several issues:

  • Fixed inability to decode FLAC files on macOS
  • Fixed inability to open Opus files with an .ogg extension
  • Fixed compatibility with Windows 10 UTF-8 codepage setting
  • Fixed crash on some Linux distributions when clicking on edit fields
  • Fixed drag and drop of Unicode file names on Haiku

freaccmd fixes and improvements

After some issues had been reported by users of the beta, I had a closer look at freaccmd again, resulting in some improvements and several fixes:

  • Gracefully handle Ctrl+C to remove unfinished output files upon abort
  • Chapters are now preserved when converting (and there's a new option to turn this off)
  • Improved cover art handling (and added a new option to completely ignore cover images)
  • Fixed support for output folders specified relative to the current directory
  • More configuration settings are now set to default values when running freaccmd

These changes will be included with the upcoming 1.1 release candidate update.

Other improvements and fixes

In addition to the above, several other things have been improved or fixed since the beta 3 release:

  • LAME encoder 32 bit float support
    When using the LAME MP3 encoder, fre:ac will now pass 32 bit float samples directly to it instead of first converting to 16 bit integer samples if the original data is 24 or 32 bit.
  • Logs now list CDDB information
    When ripping CDs, the CDDB information acquired from freedb is now listed in the ripping log.
  • Fixed drag & drop of long path names on Windows
    It's surprisingly difficult to correctly implement drag & drop of path names with more than 260 characters on Windows. fre:ac will finally be able to accept such paths via drag & drop starting with the next update.
  • Improved color scheme on Windows Vista, 7 and 8
    fre:ac now uses the configured accent color for captions and highlights on older versions of Windows too, in addition to Windows 10.
  • Improved HiDPI detection on Linux/FreeBSD
    High DPI screen detection on Linux and FreeBSD has been improved to make it work automatically in most cases, without requiring the GDK_SCALE environment variable or the --scale:n.n argument.
  • Fixed fre:ac icon not showing up for the Snap version
    When using the Snap version of fre:ac on Linux, the icon did not show up in the launcher in most cases. This is now fixed in the edge channel and will be fixed for all users with the 1.1 RC update.

Build system improvements

Some changes have been made to improve the build system to make it easier to compile fre:ac on your own.

The improvements fix a longstanding issue that prevented building on Windows from a build directory with a too long path and allow using build paths that contain spaces on all systems.

Also, there are now packaging scripts for macOS in the packaging/macosx folder, making it easier for users to build their own fre:ac app bundles and DMG images.

fre:ac 1.0.33

Among all the beta updates, I also published a service release for the fre:ac 1.0.x branch in mid February. fre:ac 1.0.33 will be the final update in this series, as the 1.1 release is expected to be ready later this month.

The 1.0.33 version comes with codec updates, bug fixes and - like the 1.1 beta 3 update - a code signed installer.

freedb shutting down

The freedb database used by fre:ac to query CD information for ripping will be shut down on March 31st. Magix, who took over the project in 2006 and guaranteed continuation of the service, sadly made this annoucement without stating any reasons for the shutdown and unfortunately were unresponsive to inquiries and offers from the community to continue the service.

fre:ac is already prepared to continue working after the shutdown. The latest updates now point to freedb.freac.org which will be directed to an alternative freedb service after March 31st.

This will be temporary solution implemented until support for the alternative and very capable MusicBrainz service will be available in fre:ac.

That's it for this status update. We have an exciting month ahead, expecting a release candidate very soon and the final fre:ac 1.1 release at the end of the month. Be sure not to miss it!