March 21, 2007

Kino 1.0 release marks shift into maintenance mode

Author: Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

A few weeks ago, the Kino video editor finally hit 1.0, which is usually a positive milestone that heralds a new era in an application's development. However, Kino developer Dan Dennedy says that he is done working on Kino's functionality for at least a year, and work toward another major release will not happen "for at least a year" unless someone else steps up to fork the application. However, Dennedy says he sees good things ahead for kdenlive, a non-linear video editor for KDE.

According to Dennedy, Kino will be in a minimal maintenance mode. "Since an architecture freeze took place over two years ago, one can argue it has been in maintenance mode ever since. However, features and functionality did change to make it more well-rounded and fill gaps within the constraints of the architecture. Now, all functionality is frozen, and I will only address the most critical of bugs."

Kino has been in development since late 2000. It was created by Arne Schirmacher, and has had other developers in the interim as well. Dennedy says he's not sure why the other devs have dropped away from the project, but says that "there was no controversy or adverse condition that gave cause for them to leave. They either prioritized other things in their life ... or lost enough interest relative to the other things happening in their lives."

What does this mean for Kino?

The upshot of the freeze, says Dennedy, is that users will see more documentation and screencasts that are consistent with the version that they're using. "There is more capability than most users realize, and this education will help them to continue to learn new things. Also, I hope there will be more and more complete translations, which makes non-English users happy."

Dennedy says he is happy with many of Kino's features. For instance, he cites the capture mode's simplicity for grabbing video from a digital video camera, and also says he is "very happy" with Kino's trim mode for video editing. "With it, one can preview clips, do assemble edits, and perform three-point insert editing. I believe this concept is lost on most users, and I plan to create a tutorial screencast demonstrating it."

In addition, Dennedy says he hopes to use Kino's recent blip.tv integration to edit and post more videos himself.

Even though Dennedy expresses satisfaction with many of Kino's features, he does recognize that it's not a solution for all users. In the release announcement, Dennedy says that he gets comments that Kino "is not good enough or needs a multitrack timeline with editable effects." He agrees those things are desirable, "but Kino was never designed to do that. In fact, there was very little thought put into design and architecture, which limited its capacity."

To add some of the features that people want, Dennedy says that it would take "a nearly total rewrite.

"Enhancing the user interface with a multitrack timeline ... implies additional things such as the ability to save these tracks as part of the project file and to composite video or mix the audio during playback instead of always prerendering. These cannot be accomplished with the current architecture, not because that architecture is somehow broken, but because it is lacking."

Instead of fixing Kino, Dennedy says that he wants to focus on a different project. "New code must be written [to bring Kino up to par], but Kino co-developer Charlie Yates and I already wrote that code in the form of a project named MLT. The work to adapt Kino to MLT would be so extensive, it would be a nearly total rewrite. Why do that when another UI for MLT -- kdenlive -- has such great progress, and I can collaborate [with] its developer?"

MLT is described as "an open source multimedia framework" for television broadcasting that provides a toolkit for video editing, transcoding, broadcasting, and other applications.

Dennedy says that kdenlive has the capacity to mature into a professional quality editor "in some settings." However, he cautions that it could take a long time to match up with the leading proprietary packages -- and that he's not interested in trying to create something for professional use unless he's being paid to develop it.

"I mainly work on these things because I want to collaborate with others (including users) on a project that has no accountability -- for the pure joy of craft. I am glad that people use it, maybe get some joy or satisfaction, and share their feedback in order to help fine-tune that craft."

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