Sunday, June 21, 2015

Problems with Media Files in LibriFox and the Need to Find Good Support

As I mentioned in my last post, Alex Hirschberg is working on a Firefox OS app to play audio books from LibriVox. While his "Summer of Code" is just beginning, he has already made significant progress on the LibriFox app.  Because of this, we are now confronted with a problem we've encountered for the whole time we've been working with the platform -- it is very difficult to navigate mozilla's labyrinthine network of forums and irc channels to actually find someone in the know who can answer questions.

I'm hoping we are able to at least partially resolve this problem sooner rather than later, or I fear we may not be able to make the most of Alex's contribution this Summer.

LibriFox is designed to play audio books, which on the LibriVox website are stored as mp3 files. The problem is that music files are stored in the same format, and the Music app finds these files and automatically loads them into the menu:

AlĂ­ Primera and Johann Sebas[tian Bach] are music albums, Victor Hugo and Unknow artist are not. As Alex continues working on LibriFox, I would like it to support at least two ways to install books:

  1. Direct download from the LibriVox website using the app.
  2. Copying the audio files from a desktop computer to a USB connected phone.
To make this work well, we will need to resolve the problem of having the audio books appear in the Music app, and figure out a good place to put the files that get downloaded so that both methods of adding books can be supported.

I have a 32 Gigabyte SD card in my phone, and I plan to put a lot of books on it as LibriFox develops.  For a first go at this, I created a directory named AudioBooks and copied the audio files for Les Miserables into a subdirectory:

That's where Victor Hugo is coming from.

It would save us a lot of time and expense if we could get some guidance from someone at Mozilla on how best to approach this problem.  Our first experiment using a recommended irc channel did not work for us at all.  We posted the same question on each of two successive days, waited 6 hours for someone to answer, and did not get an answer on either day.

Since I'm hoping these blog posts I'm making will be of use to other folks interested in contributing apps to Firefox OS, I promise to post recommended help resources once I find some that work well.


  1. Is there a defacto standard way to use ID3v2 metadata tags to specify that a given mp3 is an audio book rather then a song?

  2. I don't know, Alan, but that's a darn good question. Thanks. We'll look into it.