Tag Archives: edge

Fixing Logitech Media Server for Microsoft Edge – and playing DSD

I run Logitech Media Server (LMS) on a Synology NAS. It works very well, better than when I used a Windows VM.

There is an annoyance though. Synology has been slow to keep its LMS package up to date and the official release is still 7.7.6. There are a few issues with this release, but I lived with it, until I discovered that LMS 9.x can play DSD files, using a DSDPlayer plugin that adds DoP (DSD over PCM) support. This means you can output native DSD provided you have a DSD DAC (and some DSD files to play). DSD is the format used by SACD and some audiophiles swear it sounds better than PCM.

I then discovered that Synology is showing signs of updating LMS and has a beta release of LMS 9.0. You enable beta versions in the Package Center and it will offer to update.

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I installed, then added DSDPlayer and, hmm, I could see the DSD files but they did not play.

I found a fix for the DSD issue. A user has updated the plugin, and if you add the following plugin repository:

http://server.pinkdot.nl/dsdplayer/repo.xml

you can update DSDPlayer and it works. 

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Now I can play native DSF files through Squeezebox Touch (you also need the EDO modification) and a Teac DSD DAC. Great.

However, I then discovered that the LMS 9.0 UI does not work in Microsoft Edge, if you have the Creators Update. The links are not clickable.

There is a fix described here. I found the commit on GitHub here. However this does not update the Synology package. I logged into the Synology over SSH and made the change manually in @appstore/SqueezeCenter/HTML/Default/slimserver.css.

It works. I’m glad because I have LMS on the Edge favourites bar, and the alternative (opening LMS in IE or another browser) is less convenient.

And yes, I use Edge, in part to keep in touch with what it is like, in part because I’m resistant to a Google Chrome monoculture, and in part because it’s pretty good now (the initial Edge release was hardly usable).

There is still a problem though. The LMS Settings page does not work in Edge. I can live with that (open in Internet Explorer) but would like to find a fix.

Update: I fixed the settings issue by installing the latest LMS 9.0 with this patch. Many thanks to LMS user pinkdot on the LMS forums. However I still needed the manual fix for slimserver.css.

How Adobe turned on a pin to embrace the web (and Google)

Adobe’s Create the Web world tour – which came to London yesterday – is in the public unveiling of of Adobe’s new wave of tools, the first since it turned away from Flash and towards open web standard, hardly a year ago.

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Michael Chaize is a developer evangelist at Adobe. I asked him when it became clear to him personally that Adobe was no longer a Flash platform company.

“The main shift happened November last year [2011]” he told me. “It happened when we, for the Flash part, decided to just focus on video games and premium video, and invest in HTML tooling and specifications with a team of engineers. It was synced with the decision to stop developing Flash in mobile just to focus on apps with Adobe AIR.

“Now we are almost a year later, and Create the Web is an opportunity to showcase the work that has been done. All the product that have been launched, the Edge tools and service, just started in November of last year.”

The timing was confirmed by Adam Lehman, product manager for Edge Code, a tool built on Bracket, which is an open source project created by Adobe to provide a lightweight, code-centric editor for HTML 5 technologies. I asked him when work on Brackets started. Research started in mid-2011, he said, but “we got the team together in December 2011 and started coding.”

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Adam Lehman

The Edge tools are intended as focused, lightweight product each targeting a specific small part of web design, in contrast to typical Creative Suite products such as Dreamweaver which encompass a large area of functionality; a valid approach but one which inevitably leads to huge tools that take an age to load and a lifetime to learn. Edge is also being used as a not-to-subtle way to promote Adobe’s subscription-based Creative Cloud, since the tools are only available by that route. As a further sweetener, you can get some of the tools as part of the free subscription tier.

It is remarkable that Adobe has navigated the difficult transition from Flash to HTML, and the difficult transition from shrink-wrap to subscription, with so little pain.

That said, perhaps the transition from Flash to HTML is not as profound as it first appears. The Flash runtime was always free, while Adobe made its money from design tools, and as the web become more capable, designing for the Web looks increasingly similar to designing for Flash.

Even the community is the same. “When it deals with expressive web, motion design, we feel that the Flash community can reuse their skills,” said Chaize.  “Being a Flash developer is not just about the language, it’s a knowledge, it’s a culture. Agencies tell me, ‘When I need to hire a motion designer for HTML, I hire a Flash guy.’

That said, HTML 5 is still inferior to Flash in some respects. I watched a slightly jerky animation showing off HTML 5 capabilities and could not help thinking that it would run more smoothly in Flash (of course it was all preview software). It will get there though. This is why Adobe is working to bring specifications like CSS shaders and CSS regions to the official standards.

There is another thing I noticed at Create the Web, which is the extent to which Adobe’s new tools are built on Google’s platform. Many of the Edge tools are made with the Chrome Embedded Framework; the browser used for demonstrations is Chrome Canary, a preview build implementing the newest standards, and if you look at the code you see abundant use of the WebKit prefix which designates features currently specific to the WebKit browser engine used by Apple, Google and others. There is also extensive use of WebGL, popular with designer but contentious because some browser vendors consider it a security risk and it is not an official web standard.

Lehman insists that there is no intention to go down a Google-specific route. “It was more of a technology stack we went with,” he says, explaining that the intent for Brackets is that it will one day run in the browser, in which case it will have to support Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft browsers as well.

The reason for adopting so much Google stuff is partly the excellent fit with what Adobe needed, and partly the low friction. “We didn’t have to go to a meeting, it was just published” said Lehman, referring to the Chromium Embedded Framework which let you run HTML5 applications on the desktop.

Brackets looks great, has real community adoption already, and Adobe has interesting plan for its future. Along with browser hosting, Lehman talks about proper debugging support with breakpoint, JavaScript macros, an embedded node.js engine, and more.

When Apple rejected Flash in iOS it put Adobe in a difficult spot – another reason for the company’s warmth towards Google and Android – but since then the transition has been remarkable.

Adobe using Google Chromium Embedded Framework for Edge tools

Adobe has published a mission statement which is worth a read if only to demonstrate how far the company has moved away from Flash, once positioned at the heart of its ecosystem – remember the Flash Platform?

The mission statement essentially declares the web as the new heart of Adobe’s platform and it is working to bring HTML, CSS and JavaScript up to the level of richness and interactivity that is possible in Flash.

This even extends to apps and applications, and I was interested in this statement:

The web platform also lives outside of browsers. It’s used by apps, particularly on mobile devices, where the richness of the web platform makes it possible to deliver great user experiences. Adobe will continue to invest in the Apache Cordova project, and Adobe’s distribution of it, Adobe PhoneGap™. When appropriate, Adobe is using the web platform to build tools and services. For example, Brackets, Edge Code and Edge Reflow are built using HTML, CSS and JavaScript using the CEF open source project, to which Adobe is contributing.

CEF is the Chromium Embedded Framework, which is a web browser control based on the open source version of Google’s Chrome browser. It is a C/C++ project but third parties have created wrappers for .NET, Delphi, Java and Python.

It is not long ago that Adobe would be looked to AIR, based on Flash, for a project like this. Incidentally, AIR is also able to host a WebKit-based browser control so would have been viable. Using CEF means getting to use Google’s V8 JavaScript engine rather than ActionScript.

Adobe Edge previewed: another step towards HTML 5

Adobe has released a preview of Edge, a new tool for creating animations in HTML 5, JavaScript and CSS3.

Edge is interesting on two levels. First, HTML 5 lacks strong design tools so a new tool from Adobe is welcome. Edge is a timeline-based tool for creating animations. You import elements such as images, or create text and graphic elements in the tool. Using the timeline, you create keyframes and specify effects. Here is the designer:

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and you can view the output right here. This is one of Adobe’s samples, created by Sarah Hunt.

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Under the covers Edge uses the JQuery JavaScript library. Here are the includes for this example:

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and here are the transition effects on offer:

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Edge is not complete yet.  A future update will add a JavaScript editor, making this more interesting for application developers. There will be a documented Edge library that will let you customise and I presume interact with the Edge output. One of the possibilities that interests me is data visualisation. Will Edge support this? Adobe is not yet saying, but it would be a natural move.

Adobe already has an HTML design tool, Dreamweaver. Why another one? Or put another way, why is Edge not a new designer for Dreamweaver rather than a new product in its own right?

This is an early preview, and all things are possible. However, Adobe has a tricky positioning task, given that Edge is encroaching on territory that used to belong to Flash, timeline-based animation. In its FAQ [PDF], Adobe distinguishes its products like this:

Product Sample use cases
Adobe Edge Preview 1 Advertising, simple animations and motion design for new compositions or using existing CSS-based page layouts
Adobe Dreamweaver Websites and web applications for desktops, smartphones, and other devices
Adobe Flash Professional Immersive interactive experiences, mobile applications, gaming, premium video, advertising
Adobe Flash Builder Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) and mobile applications

This table fails to mention what must be part of the core rationale for Edge, which is working on Apple iOS, the mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad that does not run Flash content. If you view the demo page above on the iPhone 4 or iPad 2, you will find that it works fine.

Adobe’s distinctions in the table above are not particularly clear. Leaving aside the relative merits of Flash and HTML 5 as technologies, a key question for developers and designers is one of reach. HTML 5 has a reach that extends to iOS and to other devices that do not run Flash in the browser. Flash has a reach that replaces browser-dependency with dependency on Adobe’s runtime, which can be a good thing.

Incidentally, I asked Adobe during a press briefing about mobile support and also browser requirements for Edge content, but there is no official statement on this yet.

Is Adobe moving away from Flash towards standards-based HTML tools? The purpose of a table like the one above is to insist that this is not the case and that Adobe will continue to support both. Nevertheless, Edge is a significant move. A gradual decline in Flash usage in favour of HTML 5 is not necessarily bad for Adobe. Designers will use the same Adobe tools to create content for Edge as they do for Flash.

What about Wallaby, another Adobe experimental project which exports Flash content to HTML, in effect making Flash Professional an HTML 5 authoring tool? Adobe says that Wallaby and Edge are separate projects and there is no plan to have Edge import Wallaby content. Still, you would have thought that, if Wallaby makes it into an official product, some compatibility is inevitable.

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Edge demo on Apple iPhone 4