[ubuntu-studio-devel] Feature Spec Discussion: Workflow Categorization

Len Ovens len at ovenwerks.net
Wed Jun 25 23:22:33 UTC 2014

On Wed, 25 Jun 2014, Ross Gammon wrote:

> Okay - no takers so far. So here goes for an attempt at defining categories
> for Sound/Audio applications (the easiest one to start on):
> Debtags
> Freedesktop
> Description
> Notes
> Facet
> Tag
> Main Category
> Additional Category
> sound
> recorder
> Audio
> Recorder
> Application to record audio (single or multi-track).
> Do we need to differentiate between single & multi-track?

Daw is multitrack. One of the things I am seeing is that a lot of 
applications fit more than one place, but really have one main thing that 
distinguishes. Audacity,  records (multi track too), edits and processes 
audio. However it's main use is as an editor not a recorder (others may 
disagree :) ). So an audio recorder is something that does a great job of 
recording but not much else. At least so far as desktop files. Tags are 
different and should reflect all the uses of an application.

> sound
> mixer
> Audio
> Mixer
> Setting levels and using signal processing on individual tracks.
> Should we have a separate tag for signal processing?

Yes. A mixer may include processing, but many processors do not "mix" 
anything. There are really two kinds of mixers that should be separate. 
There are audio interface controlers like alsamixer, mudita24, Echomixer, 
etc. and I would add pavucontrol as well BTW. Then there are performance 
mixers like non-mixer, jackmixer, idjc, etc. (most DAWS include such a 
mixer too).

> sound
> midi
> Audio
> Midi
> This is a big category that includes anything that has midi functionality
> (or an app relating to midi).

It is ok that it is a big catagory because there are other catagories that 
narrow things down. (or should be)

> sound
> instrument
> Audio
> Instrument
> A virtual or software instrument (synthesiser).
> An application or plugin that outputs audio when receiving data control
> messages (midi).
> Neither Debtags nor Freedesktop have this category.
> Should we have a separate tag for plugins?

Plugins don't count as they are not started on their own. For example 
Hexter the plugin does not need a tag or category because it needs a 
container to run. Hexter as an application is an instrument (actually, 
hexter the instrument is a container with the plugin as an arguement, but 
becasue it has a desktop file to open it as an instrument, it needs a 
category and tags)

> sound
> compression
> Utility?; Archiving?
> Compression
> This debtag is not explained. I suppose it could be intended for file
> compression (e.g. wav > mp3). The Freedesktop category is for compressing
> data (but not normally in the Audio category). Do we need this category?

compression is audio processing. The dynamic range is changed. There is 
also an expander which normally shows up as a noise gate. wav to mp3 would 
be encoding. Archiving normally involves multiple files. So three totally 
different things. Compression as a tag is ok, but not really needed as a 
category in my opinion.

> sound
> player
> Audio
> Player
> Application to play audio files.

> sound
> sequencer
> Audio
> Sequencer
> Application that can record, edit, or play back audio using note and
> performance information (typically midi but also audio in the case of a
> DAW).
> Do we need to differentiate between DAWs & midi sequencers?

A sequencer only (like a looper or drum tracker) might use this. A daw 
might include this with it's tags though.

> sound
> speech
> Speech Synthesis
> Freedesktop do not have this category. Do we need it?

This would normally be a utility that runs at session start as an 
accessability feature. For audio use it would be an instrument of sorts. 
So tag yes, category no.
> Audio
> AudioVideoEditing
> Application to edit audio/video files.
> No debtag exists for this. Does "sequencer" cover it?

No, a sequencer, in most peoples mind is not an editor. For debtags I 
would add two AudioEditor and videoEditor even though most video editors 
have some audio editing abilities. Again, some one looking for a video 
editor has no interest in audio editors and vise vesa.

> hardware
> storage:cd-writer
> AudioVideo
> DiscBurning
> Application to burn a disc.
> Debtag not in "sound" facet (video also?). Request a new facet, or use the
> "hardware" one?

I think HW is just fine... though most application authors for cdburning 
sw seem to disagree with me  :)  but that is fine, they just add the extra 
tags/categories as they like and it still works. Some cd burners with 
a main function of writing an audio/video collection already end up in the 
multi-media menus already.

> Other missing categories?:
> - effects/signal processing
> - mastering?

Mastering is another type of signal processing. I would call it audio 
processing to differentiate from video processing even though there are 
almost no video processing programs (1 or 2 I know of) there are likely to 
be more showing up now that computer hardware is getting fast enough to 
actually do this stuff in real time.

> - plugins

plugins don't run on their own. The host and plugin API are responsible 
for catagorizing this stuff unless plugins can have a host started around 
them by selecting them to open... but they would not need a plugin tag, 
just the tag/category for what they did (processor/instrument/etc.).

> - plugin hosts?

not sure on this one.

> - radio (e.g. recording/streaming podcasts, running radio station)

This is a huge area of seeming unrelated sw :)  A studio setup would be 
the same as for DJing. A performance mixer. Streaming is really a server 
side thing that never comes with a GUI anyway. Anyone setting up a radio 
station will want all the needed sw to start at session startup (maybe 
some of it before then). This is really very specialized and probably 
would come grouped by the name of the sw, much like wine has it's own 
submenu. Developing a song list is more of a word processing/accounting 
function (done by a clerk). Inserting ads again is an office job rather 
performance, as is keeping track of advertizing accounts. A radio setup 
will only use one application set... a menu of different radio sw would 
get someone in trouble fast. radio is a custom setup.

> - notation/scores (in publishing category?)

Ya, I think a mix of already in use categories would work. A tag would be 
nice though.

> - Coding/Programming (e.g. Pure Data/Supercollider/CSound)

Development, plus sequencer/midi/audio, etc.

> - Looping (is this under sequencing?)


> - Sampling (under recording?)

Instrument. Most samplers are sample players first... a carry over from 
the hardware side naming. Often the samples are recorded using a daw/audio 
recorder and imported to the "sampler"... even more often the samples are 
downloaded or ripped from CD/DVD.

> - DJ

I am not sure. Does it include VJing as well? It is almost like we need 
multimedia to be split between playback/consumer and 
performance/creation/development. (also see comments at radio)

> - Soundfont (or is this under instrument?)


> - Patching (or is this too specific)

Two kinds of patching:
  - routing
  - synth patch creation/storage

These are audio utilities, but one would be covered in audio control 
(what we call mixers  :P  ) and the other by midi/instrument.

> Which of the "other missing categories" are important? Anything else
> missing? Suggestions on terminology? Please note that Debtags are to help

I would add DAW to cover song creation sw. Many multitrack recorders have 
become recorder/editor/sequencer/mixer/plugin-host and just as many 
"squencers" now record and edit audio. Because of the variation in the way 
they do these things and the variation in UI, it may be normal to have a 
number of applications that seem to do the same thing... in fact more than 
one might be used at the same time in sync. Just like qt has an IDE for sw 
creation, the daw is like a song IDE.

The really hard thing to do is separate consuming from creating. 
Ubuntustudio is for the content developer/creator where most Ubuntu 
flavours are for the content consumer... at least from a multimedia POV.

> search for packages that match a search-term and therefore the more
> descriptive tags we have the better. On the other hand, the freedesktop
> categories define where the application appears in the menu. Therefore the
> categories are restricted/reserved (although we can add new ones prefixed
> with an "X-" indicating an extension).

Makes sense.

Len Ovens

More information about the ubuntu-studio-devel mailing list