We have a new developer build up at http://mediaplayer.yahoo.com/latest . These release notes are late in coming and I don't have a lot of time, so this won't be expansive. Any dev team members who want to flesh out these points, go for it. I haven't documented one aspect of the release because I don't have all the information I need yet.
First off, the smaller stuff.
Bug fix: clicking metadata song title link with quotes in it used to take user to an empty search page.
Bug fix: when the album title is blank in IE (IE6 & 7, winXP and Vista) a blank tooltip was displayed.
Added "Get this player" link to give the user a path back to the player home page.
Opera and Linux are now X-grade (player might work) instead of C-grade (player won't even load). There will be bugs, but it's better to open up and find them than stay closed and not know.
Second, the big goodie for this release: we can now render media using the Windows Media Player and Quicktime plugins. Previously we could only use Flash. As before, the engine we're using isn't visible. Whatever the media type and player plugin we're using, the UI is the same.
WMP and Quicktime support a lot of media types that Flash doesn't. We can now make these types play back in the browser just as easily as MP3. This enables publishers who prefer those types to use them without any additional work. It's a big project to debug this kind of code, so on a practical level this functionality was inaccessible for most publishers.
WMP and Quicktime are both pluggable, unlike Flash. We can now play back media types supported via an add-on system codec (on Windows) or a Quicktime plugin. For example, there are Ogg Vorbis and Ogg FLAC plugins for both WMP and Quicktime. It is possible for a publisher to write code that takes advantage of these plugins, but on a practical level it is too much work to make sense, so publishers avoid it.
Lastly, WMP, Quicktime, and Flash are interchangeable when they support the same media types. This allows us to use whatever plugin is best for the job, or to skip a media item if there is absolutely no way to get it to play back.
When you put these three features together, you get some radical but subtle new abilities.
- We can play back free formats like the Oggs if the user's system can support them, but without users who don't have the plugin getting a nasty error message.
- We can play back MIDI and WAV on both Windows and Mac with the same user-friendliness as MP3. MIDI is an enduring media type that will probably stick around for a while, and there are a huge number of WAV files up on the net from the 90s.
- We can combine different plugins within a single playlist to do things that are physically impossible otherwise. For example, we can mix MIDI and FLV in a single playlist.
- We can play back Windows Media on Mac using the Flip4Mac plugin in Quicktime. (Though there is a noticeable pause while Flip4Mac starts up).
CAVEAT EMPTOR: this functionality was a seriously difficult piece of engineering, and we are already finding serious bugs. Keep your expectations low until the code matures a bit, and don't even think of using this build on a production site.
One more new feature to note is the "find in page" button. In the player next to the song title, you'll see a circle with crosshairs. Clicking on this icon will scroll the page to the location of that song in the page. If you're listening to a page with a long list of songs and lose track of where you are, simply click this icon and we'll show you exactly where on the page that song lives.