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Yahoo! Media Player

History

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HistoryEdit

The player has been developed by a series of different teams and under a series of different names.

"Goose" generationEdit

The origins of the player were in Webjay, a one-man company with a playlist sharing community site. The player was a secret R&D effort by Webjay creator Lucas Gonze that had not been released when Webjay was acquired by Yahoo in 2006.

Ian Rogers at Yahoo then championed the player internally. Ian and Lucas spent about a year selling the project by giving demos based on the Webjay code. About halfway through, engineering lead Phillippe Casseareau commited a sizeable amount of time from investigative engineer Carl Sobeski. Carl then built a pyrotechnical demo which he described this way:

Not only could you manipulate the song order and delete songs in the playlist, but you could also save the playlist out to its own HTML file which, when opened in a browser, would be played back using the same player. And, if you had another page open in a browser, you could drag/drop song links from one page into the other page’s playlist, which you could also save out.

This first round of work was all internal, and used the code name "goose."

Play This PageEdit

At the same time, work to port Webjay onto the Yahoo stack was being done by William White as a separate project to develop a playlist portal under the Yahoo brand. While many portions of this work were unreleased or stillborn, the port of Webjay's "play this page" feature (named for its URL "http://webjay.org/playthispage") continues to be in active use.

Playthispage is a screen-scraper web service which can parse media links out of documents on the web. These documents can be in any playlist or quasi-playlist format, inluding M3U, XSPF, HTML, and feed formats like RSS and Atom. The web service returns results in XSPF, normalizing and standardizing media formats within a single semantic framework.


First public releaseEdit

The player was chartered as a formal product in January of 2007. At this time the player's reason for existence was to bring Yahoo's subscription music service ("Yahoo! Music Unlimited") from a dedicated client ("Yahoo! Music Jukebox") into the browser. The engineering team was in the San Diego office of Musicmatch, another Yahoo acquisition, with business and UED in the Santa Monica office. The core team was Mily Dahlke, Steve Francis, Dan Hunt, Tami Kagan-Abrams, David Warmerdam, Lucas Gonze, Frank Safranek, Randy White, Douglas Kim, and Lino Wiehen.

The first release was announced in a ymusicblog entry on July 31, 2007 titled Playlists, new samples player, web subscription playback. Playback was focused on rendering tracks from Yahoo's subscription music service in the browser. Capabilities were described this way:

Play buttons will give you full songs if you are a Yahoo! Music Unlimited subscriber, and 30-second samples otherwise. The player is now rendered in the page rather than in a pop-up window.

This release pioneered features that have since been widely adopted by other in-browser media players:

  • The player is fixed in the viewport rather than in the document flow, so that controls don't scroll out of view.
  • The player is Ajax in addition to Flash, allowing it to be more powerful than Flash alone.
  • The player expands and contracts with user interaction, unlike a Flash player, allowing it to be unobtrusive or expansive as needed.
  • The player turns links in the page into a playlist, auto-advancing from one to the next. This was the first appearance of an HTML-based playlist in mainstream software.

Second public release, renamed "Yahoo! Media Player"Edit

A parallel project to develop a pure-Flash player as an improvement to the open-source XSPF Musicplayer was done by William White. William had done the early engineering to bring Webjay into Yahoo, and had since moved on to an internal lab called the Media Innovation Group. The pure-Flash player was publically released on November 12th, 2007 on next.yahoo.net under the name EasyListener. EasyListener was distinguished by deep incorporation of Play This Page; the home page described the player as:

a Flash music player which can literally play any page on the web. Simply point it at your favorite music blog, RSS feed or playlist document and it will crawl that URL and start playing back any mp3s it finds.

The second release of the Ajax player was announced on January 8, 2008, and documented again on February 3, 2008.

This release had the same form factor but was no longer focused on subscription music, and it was no longer oriented towards use strictly within Yahoo sites. Media could come from any host on the web, sites could be any page on the web. The player was now a plugin for third party content and hosts, most prominently music bloggers.

Because this release was intended for use by the public, it could no longer get by on the "goose" code name. Yahoo corporate branding policy was to emphasize "Yahoo!" as the brand and append product information in a function-oriented way, hence the public name became "Yahoo! Media Player."

Note that this wiki was created before the branding was announced, so had the initial domain goose.wikia.com before moving to the domain yahoomediaplayer.wikia.com, and goose.wikia.com still works.

The core team for the first YMP release was established in October of 2007, after a Yahoo reorganization moved the San Diego developers onto the Mail product. The new group was Amit Behere, Clint, Dave Warmerdam, Douglas Kim, Lino Wiehen, Mike Davis, Suman Nichani, William Khoe, and Lucas Gonze, all in the Santa Monica offices.

The next incremental release on February 8, 2008 fixed a number of small issue and introduced the ability to invoke the Play This Page screen scraper to use any remote document as a playlist.

There were then a series of incremental releases through the spring of 2008. These are documented on the News page on this wiki.

Version 2.0, third release, renamed "Foxy Player"Edit

The player code had become crufty over time, not least because of the burdensome legacy code to support Yahoo's discontinued subscription service. A full rewrite was released to developers with Faster, smaller code footprint, more media formats, new features. on July 11, 2008. It moved out of beta on November 25, 2008.

Prominent features in the 2.0 release:

The next release, announced September 17, 2008, was targeted for use in Yahoo! Search. Per " an announcement on the Yahoo search blog:

  • The player was now incorporated in Yahoo search to add full-song Rhapsody playback to music search results. For example, you'll see the player in these search results for "Madonna" (but only in the US etc etc).
  • The player could now play back full tracks provisioned by Rhapsody. If you were not a Rhapsody subscriber you would get 25 listens a month free, then 30 second samples for the rest of the month.

The next major event, announced December 8 2008, was for the player to be be incorporated into Yahoo's Delicious property. See

Over the course of these releases the team became smaller, eventually consolidating as Stephen Garcia, David Warmerdam, and Amit Behere.

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