On multimedia player names

Warning: if you do not recognize names mentioned here you might be too young.

I’ve been using computer for about nineteen years and during that time I tried various players for various formats. My curiosity for internal format design made me search for information about compression methods, source code for decoders and such. So it led me to the current state (doing nothing). Yet for the many multimedia players I know there are some naming issues and that’s what I want to talk about.

My first versatile player was PLAYSND.COM by Yuri Tumarin. This 13kB DOS program could play a lot of various sound formats like WAV, VOC, MIDI variants and Adlib tracker music (RAD, HSC and lots of other variants). The best part is that it played some compressed WAV files too (various ADPCM variants and more). Excellent tool but the name is too bland and hard to search for.

Speaking of Adlib tracker formats, there’s an opensource player with Adlib emulator supporting lots and lots of them. The problem with it (beside being outdated now)? It’s called adplug. A good name to be blocked by a generic rule!

Let’s move to video players.

My first Linux player for VideoCDs was MpegTV. It was a commercial program but again, it was a country where nobody bothered about piracy and it was the only player on Linux I knew that could decode VideoCDs without stuttering. The player was doing its task fine but its name is rather cringeworthy.

Then I found out about DVD-oriented players like Ogle and Xine. Good names. And I still use Xine sometime when I need to play DVDs.

And the golden standard of multimedia on Unix systems—XAnim. The only bad thing is that the last time I checked it didn’t work correctly in 32-bit X11 mode. But it did its job well and I’m still grateful it exists (and also its binary plugins were good binary specification for missing codecs).

And there’s MPlayer. It was fast, it had many useful features and codecs supported (I still use it as a testbed for running some 32-bit VfW/DMO codecs when I cannot write a decoder without debug) but its codebase was horrible (in some cases legendarily horrible) and the name is both bland and reminds of mplayer32.exe (which crashed and hanged a lot too).

And one of its forks is named after one of the horrible chunks in libavcodec and its author operates under pseudonym. So was it really worth it to name the player MPV?

And I conclude this review with a well-known multimedia player that I won’t use. When I think about VLC the first meaning coming to my mind is variable length codes. And when the only good thing about your player name is the number of puns you can make I’d use something with more decent name thank you very much.

4 Responses to “On multimedia player names”

  1. Austin C Williams says:

    This is where I spend the next hour of my life very seriously weighing the pros and cons of switching away from using VLC as my video player of choice just because some guy on the internet whom I believe to be a lot smarter than me doesn’t like it.

  2. Kostya says:

    And that would be simply wrong. One has to choose software based on what it does, how it does it, maybe also based on its source code quality or license—but not because some random guy on Internet doesn’t like its name.

  3. Razvan says:

    So what player DO you use?

  4. Kostya says:

    A mix of MPlayer, MPV, avplay and occasionally Xine. And Archos Video Player.