Monday, April 25, 2011

Next Stoffi will have better sources

As I am closing the last bugs on the beta I have started to work on the next version of Stoffi. The first feature will be an upgraded way to manage your sources.



Instead of one whitelist and one blacklist we will now have a single list where each location can either be toggled as include or as ignore. We will also make it possible to nest these arbitrarily; you can include a folder, inside an ignored folder, which in turn is inside an included folder, and so on.

This will fix the current issue which always let the blacklist win. It will also fix a number of other bugs related to the way Stoffi handles the file system.

This also marks the start of our next version of Stoffi. Hopefully we can have a first alpha out some time after the first stable version of Stoffi goes live. We will aim at having a faster release schedule and quicker releases, at least in the alpha and possibly the beta channel.

Cheers!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Who are you? Statistics about Stoffi's audience

We still haven't "officially" released Stoffi. We are still in beta but we are approaching our first stable release.

So I thought it might be a good idea to see who you early adopters actually are. Read on for some neat statistics on the people who use Stoffi (or at least browse our websites).

To start with I must say that even though I have mentioned my pet project on a few websites already, the response I have gotten is a lot better than I first anticipated. We already have more visitors and users than I thought we would have at this point. There seems to be a great interest in what we try to do and I think that people actually want the sort of music player that we are trying to create.

So, Stoffi actually has three websites. First is the main website, stoffiplayer.com. This is where you go to download Stoffi, and maybe look at the tour in order to learn more about it. Then we have the Stoffi Music Blog, which you should be familiar with since you are reading it right now. This is where we try to keep our users updated about what we do, what we plan and stuff like that. Lastly, for those of you who really like to get involved in Stoffi we have the project website of Stoffi. This is where you can file issue reports, read our wiki or - for the real hardcore fans - read our source code (which two guys from Google actually has!).


The Website
We start off with our main website. We actually had an old website at stoffi.jovia.net which we later abandoned when we launched our new website at the end of January. The website is thus the youngest of the three but it still has gotten 810 visits from 693 unique visitors. We have had 3,625 pageviews which calculates to about 4.48 pageviews per visit. On average each visit lasts for 2 minutes and 11 seconds.

So where did the visits come from? From 62 countries actually. The top five was:
  1. Sweden (169 visits)
  2. U.S. (124 visits)
  3. U.K. (43 visits)
  4. Australia (40 visits)
  5. Canada (34 visits)
When it comes to browser usage we can clearly see that Firefox and Chrome are dominating. This is most certainly a reflection of how our audience is more tech-savvy than the average Internet user. An interesting feat here is that Opera is actually more used than Safari. The "Other" section contains mobile users such as Android, iPhone and iPad.

On the Operating System side it is pretty clear that most of our visitors are using Windows. This comes as no surprise since Stoffi is currently only available for Windows 7 (which is about 75% of the Windows users). But Linux is still pretty strong as is Mac. Hopefully you guys will soon be able to enjoy Stoffi on your favorite OS as well.


The Blog
Over at the blog we have had slightly more visits than at the website, which comes as no surprise given that our blog has been live since mid-April last year. In total we've had 954 visits from 512 visitors. Each visit had about 2.08 pageviews which gives us a total of 1,985 pageviews on the blog. The time you spent on the blog is 2 minutes and 21 seconds, almost the same as on the main website. The visits has come from 49 countries which is not as diverse as the website. The top five countries are:
  1. Sweden (379 visits)
  2. U.S. (143 visits)
  3. South Africa (140 visits)
  4. Hungary (69 visits)
  5. U.K. (24 visits)
Looking at browser usage we can see that Firefox and Chrome are dominating the blog as well. However, we see a lot more IE usage on the blog than on the website while Opera is still way ahead of Safari.

Given that Internet Explorer was a lot more popular on the blog it should comes as no surprise that the Windows usage is a bit bigger on the blog, but both Linux and Mac is still going strong here as well.

The Project
The project website has some interesting tales to tell us. First of we have a total of 1,220 visits from 447 visitors. That's more visits than any of the other sites but less visitors which means that those of you who visit our project website tend to do so more often. This makes sense since the most visited page on the project website is the bugreports. We had a total of 6,300 pageviews which is a lot more than any of the other sites. This gives us as much as 5.16 pageviews per visit which shows us that those of you who browse our project website tend to click a lot more than our other visitors. The average time spent here is 6 minutes and 51 seconds which also is a lot more than the rest of the Stoffi sites.

The visits came from 67 countries and the top five are:
  1. Sweden (470 visits)
  2. South Africa (202 visits)
  3. U.S. (131 visits)
  4. U.K. (40 visits)
  5. Canada (29 visits)
The project website continues to surprise when it comes to browser usage. Chrome is a clear winner with about half of all visits while Firefox comes in as a strong second. IE is slightly ahead of Safari while Opera is last of the top five.

However, when it comes to operating systems, the project website seems to favor Windows just as much as the blog but the "Other" section is a lot bigger on the project website which can be contributed to Android usage (which stands for more than half of the "Other" section).

Summary
To summarize this we can clearly see that Sweden first of all is where most of the visits come from. This should come as absolutely no surprise since I am from Sweden and most of our early adopters are friends of mine. South Africa is also a strong contender and that's where we have our third team member.

The project website sees less visitors but a lot more usage from each visitor. While the website is pretty much where people go to download Stoffi and look at the tour. The blog has it's ups and downs and the usage is mostly reflected on how much we post here.

There's some nice feats in our statistics as well. For example the website has had a visit from BeOS and FreeBSD is visible on all our websites. We have also had visits from some more obscure browser such as Konqueror, Camino, Space Bison and even one visit from IE with Chrome Frame.

This is all very interesting statistics but hopefully we will get a lot more traffic once we have our first release and really start to push for Stoffi around the Internet. However, even though Stoffi isn't officially released yet we have actually had 50 downloads since March 12 (which is when I started to track downloads). Lastly I can mention that we have had over 226 issues reported of which 162 has been fixed already. Of course we want all to be fixed but you guys report faster than we work.

Hopefully this will give you a bit of a picture of who you guys actually are. But remember, no matter from which country you come, or which platform you use, or which browser you prefer, we love you and we want you to love our work. You guys are our main focus.

Thank you for visiting our websites.

Cheers!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We are on Twitter

We started with Facebook and now we are expanding into Twitter land. Follow us by the name @StoffiPlayer and join in on the conversations about how to make music awesome again. We've also added a new gadget on this blog where you can see our latest tweet quickly. Check it out on the right.

Looking forward to tweeting with you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A new release and another team member

Greetings music lovers!

We have a fresh new release for you which include a number of bugfixes, mostly related to the file system. Try it out, take it for a spin and help us find the last bugs before our first, real release.

My name is Hylton and I hail from Johannesburg, South Africa (any soccer (football) fans out there would know that we were chosen as the very first African country to host the FIFA World Cup, which was held last year). I currently work as an Office Manager for a Trading Company.

Windows music applications have rarely appealed to me. I tolerated a small selection, as I needed something to listen to my music. The search for a better music application has never stopped, since Windows 95! Only two players have ever stood out, namely Sonique and Billy. My search finally came to an end when I found some random post on some random website pointing to the then named YAMA. What immediately appealed to me were the beautiful UI and the integration into Windows 7. The reason I continue to use Stoffi is the exceptional manner in which Christoffer has dealt with all of my bug reports and feature requests. To date I have reported 143 defects and 40 enhancements! Each one has been carefully assessed by Christoffer and all have been accepted.

Christoffer recently invited me onto the team, which I was honoured to accept. My roles include: Head of QA Department, whereby I test Stoffi before releases; Chief Tracker Operator, whereby I organise and verify user issues and PR Manager and Community Leader, whereby I provide support for Stoffi's users. This is a great team to be a part of and I look forward to serving the community.

My vision for Stoffi is that it continues to grow into the world's most amazing music application. Specifically, for me, this includes: instant startup no matter the size of the Music Library; displaying the Music Library as a list of folders, as found in Windows Explorer and further expansion of our unique song bookmarking feature. Being able to jump to any part of any song using bookmarks is fantastic.

Now is the time to try each and every feature of Stoffi, in any and all combinations and to give us feedback about any problems you experience so that any remaining bugs can be found before going stable.

For those of you who already have Stoffi installed you don't need to do anything. Stoffi will upgrade itself automatically. If you don't have Stoffi yet you should go and install it now.

Cheers for now!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Troubles with the filesystem

Hey, guys!

The last release was not as bug free as I wished. There was a number of issues related to how Stoffi handles the filesystem. I started to work on them, then decided that the "Filesystem Manager" and the whole "Library Sources" needed to be rewritten, after which I decided to push that feature/rewrite into the next version. A lot of back and forth but now the issues are gone.

So to recap: the filesystem manager needs to be rewritten. We have some stuff that we need to rethink. The separate whitelist/blacklist will go away and we will keep ONE list where each folder/file can either be toggled as "include" or "ignore". This will let you include a folder, in which you ignore a folder, which in turn contains a file that you want to include. Nested includes and ignores FTW!

However, this will not be in Stoffi until the next release (codenamed Shang). For our current release I fixed the most pressing issues, the others will be fixed later on.

Right now there's only two issues left in the current milestone. Both are related to the release and not something that can be fixed in code. This means that we are pretty much done and it's time again to start the release tests and packaging procedure.

Hopefully you will get the latest batch of bugfixes in your Stoffi soon enough. Maybe this can be our last beta release?

Here's for hoping...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A reach for the stars starts with the clouds

over cloudcomputing gesproken ;)
"over cloudcomputing gesproken" from flickr.com
I am in the middle of some work, some studying and some trying to fix the latest batch of issues in Stoffi. The issues have forced me to rewrite large parts of the system that handles the filesystem. In the end this will result in a more natural way for you to manage your sources in Stoffi, it will be much more streamlined and "flowing". But it requires some work. So you will have to give me some more time for this one. But in the end, it will be worth it. We just need this last thing.

However, in the meantime I have been figuring out a plan on how to drive Stoffi from here: into the clouds...

Same Stoffi Everywhere!
I have always been in love with the feature of synchronizing your bookmarks in Chrome (a feature that has just now arrived in the new Firefox 4.0). Now I have figured out a place for the cloud in Stoffi! Think of a way to synchronize stuff like your playlists, queue and even history. The server (which I will name Yun, btw) will keep a copy of all the devices' combined data. Of course this will all be encrypted so neither we nor anyone else will be able to read your data.

When you start Stoffi on your desktop it will show the same data - playlists, bookmarks, settings, history, queue and even currently playing track (!) if you want to - as the Stoffi on your laptop. But, you may ask, how will Stoffi handle situations with two computers not having the same tracks? Well, since all tracks are synchronized the Stoffi on your desktop will only add those that it can find in the Library, the rest will be silently ignored.

Of couse, you will be able to choose how much you want to synchronize. And lastly, since everything will be encrypted inside Stoffi (the client) no one else but only you will be able to access this information. Privacy is a high priority!

Stoffi Comes To Life
Secondly, I have some plans on an even more distant future of Stoffi and how it will start to become self-subtaining.

As you all know Stoffi costs money for me and it takes a lot of time to work on. I don't want to charge for Stoffi, or put advertisement inside it. I am even skeptical to ads on the website. However, I think that with todays micro transactions in app stores it's possible to make Stoffi gain some money and paying for its bills without limiting the number of users that can enjoy Stoffi.

Remember those files that differed between the laptop and the desktop in the previous example? I think that Stoffi should be able to synchronize them as well! This has already been done with Lala and now Amazon has released Cloud Drive. I think that it's a great idea that Stoffi not only needs, but can make even better.

Lala got bought by Apple and have never been heard ever since, and Amazon doesn't have a music player as awesome as Stoffi, at least not yet. We are already better in that regard, but I think that we can beat Amazon in one more thing: price!

I have checked some of the upgrade options for the server we have, and I also checked the price for adding a second server just for storage. I've come up with in order for this service to pay for itself I will only need to charge about $5-6 for 10 gigabytes of data on the server. That's pretty cheap! It is half the price Amazon takes (they take one dollar per gigabyte). That means I can even give you the playlist/history/bookmarks/etc-sync for free, and you will only have to pay if you want to sync actual music.

I have some thought on using text messages (SMS) and PayPal for payment in order to make it as easy as possible.

Now, all this is just some plans floating around my head right now. But if I were ever to test something like this out I would start small, making this a sort of private beta thing where you need invites. This is because I want to know if people are interested in something like this. Otherwise it will just be an extra cost for no benefit.

Share The Love
But I hope that it could be a nice way for Stoffi to pay for itself. So now for the even more distant future: if this would ever become a hit and people love it, I will make sure that Stoffi only pays the server bills and enough to run itself. All extra cash we earned would be donated to charity!


Yeah, that's right. I already have a part time job so I have enough money to pay the bills and eat nice once a month along with the occasional weekend get-away with my girlfriend. All I need. I think that it would be nice to just give all extra "profit" away to those that need it the most instead.

That's why I imagine that if Stoffi would any day in the future become something big, then it would become a non-profit organization, combining charity and computer software - and not become a corporation, driven by profit and only money in mind. We could then focus on important issues such as making as many users as possible happy. We might even be able to make non-users happy by working with competitors instead of against. An example of that would be a fast way to move your data with you if you ever choose to leave Stoffi and go for something else. We want everyone to be happy.

So, that concludes some of my thoughts on the future of Stoffi when it comes to the clouds. If you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment.

I'll get back to the hacking now!