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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The future of Aegisub

Greetings to all readers, and welcome to our new blog!

I'm Rodrigo Monteiro (a.k.a. amz) and I've founded the Aegisub project together with Niels Hansen (jfs). Although I've written a good portion of all the code, lately real life has decided to get in my way and I haven't been contributing much - which is part of the reason why development has been slow.

But, to get to the point, this is what we're planning for the future of Aegisub:

  1. We want a stable 2.2.0 release ASAP. Nobody should be using 1.10 anymore.
  2. We want proper Linux, *BSD and OS X support. Although those three platforms work to varying degrees, Aegisub still works better in Windows.
  3. A major infrastructure review, which will decouple all the subtitle parsing and manipulation into an external library tentativelly named Athenasub.
  4. Implement even more features!
  5. AS5.

I think that we're very close to point #1, and that depends mostly on jfs finishing the manual. On the UNIX front, we have verm porting the program to accomplish #2, but we still need more C++ developers to work on the actual features that don't work too well there - TheFluff has been trying to fix LAVC support, which is very problematic.

Point #3 is largely my responsibility. Athenasub will be a standalone C++ library that will load, manipulate and write subtitle files in many formats (all that Aegisub supports now, plus new formats, including image-based). It will probably also support some form of script similar to Avisynth, which could be used to edit individual subtitles from command line or do whole batches at once. While the library itself is coming along nicely, integrating it into Aegisub will be extremely difficult, but will hopefully make the program more stable and easier to understand (source-wise). It will also warrant a major version change, so look forward for that in 3.1.x.

Point #4 includes all those features that we've always wanted but never got around implementing... gradient and blur visual typesetting tools, a bleed checker, a script analyzer (that will search for any potential issues and display all of them in a list, with support for automation plugins), a character counter, and a few others.

Point #5 is probably the farthest in the future. AS5 is a subtitles format that is intended to replace the Advanced Substation Alpha (ASS) format, by adding many critical new features while overall simplifying the format. A draft specification is available here, but beware that it will certainly change much before it sees the light of day.

This is all that I can think of now. Perhaps jfs will have some more to say regarding his plans for the future of the program. Either way, I intend to detail those points more carefully in posts to come, so stay tuned.

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  1. In case anyone is wondering, lately most development has been centered around making the Linux/Mac/BSD versions of Aegisub more useful and reliable. Most of the improvements don't have much influence on the Windows builds, so there isn't too much reason to want a new Windows build immediately.

    Also, FIST!

  2. Hmmm... Does this mean it's time to try building Aegisub under Linux again? I have been preserving my r1006 build... Keeping old libraries around just to keep it running.

    My real question is: Why doesn't Aegisub use mplayer for previewing? It seems like the natural thing. It appears to be easy to embed, and it renders .ass subs correctly (mostly). Wouldn't that be a whole lot easier than having a native rendering engine in Aegisub? It seems to me it would be a huge load off the coding team's back to be able to use the same preview engine on all platforms.

  3. Yes, Aegisub has become quite stable and useful on Linux now.

    As for embedding MPlayer, it's pretty much what we're doing, except we aren't. We use libavcodec and family from FFMpeg, which MPlayer also uses, and libass from the MPlayer source tree to do subtitle rendering. We can't use libass directly from the MPlayer source tree because that version assumes it lives inside MPlayer and so we can't use its API directly.

    I think it would be more problematic to embed MPlayer than the advantages it could potentially bring in stability, because we have some rather special requirements for the video display. First, we want to be able to overlay the visual typesetting tools on it and second, we need to be able to continually change the internal subtitle file used by the renderer. This is better accomplished by controlling the renderer directly.

  4. Exciting! I'm building now...

  5. Nope, doesn't build. Config script errors. Can you suggest a revision number that you know builds?

  6. There's lots of tips etc. on our wiki page:

    Also try looking on the forums, build problems have been discussed several times there.

  7. Well, actually, the build problems were due to your svn server crapping out before my checkout completed... I dl'ed a tarball instead (r2263), and now I'm building...

    Time passes...

    OMFG! It's much better than r1006!! The video is all distorted, and it crashes as soon as I try to play the video, but it's much, much better than r1006... I can now do timeshifting, which is a huge win.

    Excellent job!

  8. OMFG!!! NOOOO!!!!

    Search and replace on text is a disaster now! The text gets mangled and cut off. Back to r1006.

  9. Just to be up-to-date, I am now using r2280 - Video preview doesn't work (image is severely distorted), but subtitle editing and time editing functions work fine.

  10. @last Anonymous:
    What OS? What video card?

  11. I'm sorry if I'm being idiot or something, but I can't find the link to download the driver to install aegisub in Mac. Can you tell me where is it?

  12. Aegisub isnt a driver, its an application. You need to download the source and compile it yourself afaik.

  13. Thanks a *lot* for Linux version of Aegisub. True, it doesn't work as smoothly as in Windows but I am really glad I can use it under this OS too.

    Good luck with Linux development. You guys seriously rocks.


  14. I'm looking forward to a 2.1.9 soon! =) 2.1.8 crashes as soon as a launch the application on Snow leopard (10.6.8)

    keep up the good work!

  15. The qualitative research data analysis is one of the best thing special requirements for the video display. First, we want to be able to overlay the visual typesetting tools on it and second, we need to be able to continually change the internal subtitle file used by the renderer.

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  17. Thanks a *lot* for Linux version of Aegisub. True, it doesn't work as smoothly as in Windows but I am really glad I can use it under this OS too.

    Good luck with Linux development. You guys seriously rocks slope

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You will get better help on our forum than in the blog comments.