Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A tale of ogg

Oh Ogg. The format that trapped many a user's music files on lowly Linux desktops. I know I've got some oggs somewhere that I can't listen to any more in itunes. Or any device that I care about, for that matter. And I'm too anal to re-encode them into the only format that matters: mp3.

Then today I saw this nice little tear down of Ogg. I'm not going to write much here since this article has a beauty of it's own. But I will quote a bit:

More commonly, the Ogg proponents will respond with hand-waving arguments best summarised as Ogg isn't bad, it's just different. My reply to this assertion is twofold:

  • Being too different is bad. We live in a world where multimedia files come in many varieties, and a decent media player will need to handle the majority of them. Fortunately, most multimedia file formats share some basic traits, and they can easily be processed in the same general framework, the specifics being taken care of at the input stage. A format deviating too far from the standard model becomes problematic.
  • Ogg is bad. When every angle of examination reveals serious flaws, bad is the only fitting description.

The third reaction bypasses all technical analysis: Ogg is patent-free, a claim I am not qualified to directly discuss. Assuming it is true, it still does not alter the fact that Ogg is a bad format. Being free from patents does not magically make Ogg a good choice as file format. If all the standard formats are indeed covered by patents, the only proper solution is to design a new, good format which is not, this time hopefully avoiding the old mistakes.


Wow, doesn't this sound fucking familiar? Oh wait, %s/Ogg/Linux Desktop/g ... Ahhh... there we go.