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Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
18-09-2013, 19:46
Post: #11
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
(18-09-2013 15:42)haggis999 Wrote:  I think I have tracked down the cause of confusion. In that earlier thread, you advised that I should use aliasTags=Work:Group and should add Group:Work to indexTags. Those exact settings (without any embedded backslashes) seem to be what causes repeated Work selection requests. It also makes Work appear as a choice at least twice before the selection of Composer.

It doesn't seem to matter if I use Work:Group or Work\:Group but using Group\:Work in indexTags makes Work appears as a selection item only after I have chosen the composer and the track listing is the next display. The interface is much slicker as a result.

Rather confusingly, my OP showed the use of backslashes. I had got this from an early copy of my config file but since you had not used backslashes I assumed they were optional.

David

You should not be editing the minimserver.config file directly. There is a GUI and a command-line interface in both MinimServer and MinimWatch for making configuration property changes. If you use this interface (as described in the User guide), you won't need to use (and shouldn't use) any backslashes. Any posts I have made describing property settings would have assumed the use of this interface and would therefore not have included any backslashes.

To avoid any confusion in future, please post property values copied from the MinimServer or MinimWatch dialogs, not copied from the minimserver.config file.
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18-09-2013, 20:34
Post: #12
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
(18-09-2013 19:46)simoncn Wrote:  You should not be editing the minimserver.config file directly. There is a GUI and a command-line interface in both MinimServer and MinimWatch for making configuration property changes. If you use this interface (as described in the User guide), you won't need to use (and shouldn't use) any backslashes. Any posts I have made describing property settings would have assumed the use of this interface and would therefore not have included any backslashes.

To avoid any confusion in future, please post property values copied from the MinimServer or MinimWatch dialogs, not copied from the minimserver.config file.

You have misunderstood my reference to the config file. I have never edited this file directly and have always used your two properties dialogue boxes. All I did with the config file was to save a copy after a reinstall so that I could see the default values, some of which I then copied into my OP in this thread.

The fact remains that using the backslash in my Group\:Work indexTags entry via the Properties box has produced a different and apparently better result. Is there some less obvious reason why this solution should be avoided?

David
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18-09-2013, 21:31
Post: #13
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
(18-09-2013 20:34)haggis999 Wrote:  You have misunderstood my reference to the config file. I have never edited this file directly and have always used your two properties dialogue boxes. All I did with the config file was to save a copy after a reinstall so that I could see the default values, some of which I then copied into my OP in this thread.

The fact remains that using the backslash in my Group\:Work indexTags entry via the Properties box has produced a different and apparently better result. Is there some less obvious reason why this solution should be avoided?

David

This will not use Group as an indexTags value. Instead, it will use Group\ as an indexTags value (displayed as Work). As you don't have any Group\ tags in your files (or any tags aliased to Group\), you should not see any Work index entries.

I might have misunderstood what you meant by your statement that "Work appears as a selection item only after I have chosen the composer". Did you mean that you get a selection item (index entry) named 'Work', or did you mean that the selection items are the names of musical works by your previously selected composer?

It might be helpful if you could post screenshots of what you are seeing as the sequence of selection items and also a screenshot of the MinimServer properties dialog.
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18-09-2013, 23:26
Post: #14
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
(18-09-2013 21:31)simoncn Wrote:  It might be helpful if you could post screenshots of what you are seeing as the sequence of selection items and also a screenshot of the MinimServer properties dialog.

That is an excellent suggestion, as there is plenty of opportunity for talking at cross purposes on this stuff. It is also all too easy for me to forget the exact details of all the different configurations I have tried, especially on the Oppo display, where every menu selection takes you to a new window. In contrast, Foobar2000 lets you see the full current selection tree (I only started playing properly with Foobar for the first time this evening).

I have already created several screenshots of the UPnP Browser view in Foobar side by side with the related MinimServer Properties window and will post them here as soon as I have finished this process.

David
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18-09-2013, 23:44
Post: #15
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
I hope that I might be allowed a slightly 'off piste' input into this discussion. My concern is less with the technicalities of a particular indexing scheme (on which I defer to Simon's expertise), but with the OP's original statement that "I want to run my standard music selection sequence ..." There is always the question as to whether indexing, powerful as it is, can be expected to deliver any given sequence.

As I have explained elsewhere, my own paradigm is the way my CDs are arranged on their shelves, which of course implies a standard selection sequence. Simon wisely reminded me that this could be reproduced in the folder tree (and associated folder and file naming conventions) of my digital music convention. As MinimServer provides a folder view to the control point, I can use my standard selection procedure through this view if I am disciplined enough to store my ripped CDs in the appropriate location and use sensible and consistent file and folder names. The combination of dBpoweramp and MP3Tag makes this pretty straightforward.

With this arrangement, I can quickly track down individual items by normal file browsing when no index is present. Properly constructed, the folder tree is a simple, robust, and remarkably powerful browsing tool.

I do not wish to suggest to the OP that his indexing scheme, to which he has clearly devoted considerable thought, can simply be replaced by the file tree. But it does occur to me that what he describes as a "standard ... sequence" may well have a history that (like mine) has its origins in some physical arrangement of media, and that, irrespective of any indexing scheme, it may make sense for him to make his music collection file tree analogous to that arrangement, if he has not already done so.

But the real target audience for this thought is any new user of MinimServer, particularly one new to streaming music, who, reading this thread, may be inclined to wonder whether things need to be quite as complex as has been described in previous posts. No, they don't; my advice to that new user would be to leave the MinimSever defaults as they are for a while and to concentrate on (1) getting the music library folder tree properly organised and (2) ensuring that music files are accurately and consistently tagged. And in response to the seemingly perennial question as to whether folder organisation can replace indexing or vice versa, the only realistic answer is that all but the smallest music collections need both.

(Another) David
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19-09-2013, 00:11 (This post was last modified: 19-09-2013 00:25 by haggis999.)
Post: #16
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
Hi David,
Your thoughts are most welcome. It is all too easy to get lost in all this stuff and my goal is the simplest solution that actually does the job. However, I'm struggling to fully understand your post as I'm not sure what you mean by "indexing". I suspect you mean the use of metadata tags.

If so, and if you are suggesting that well organised physical disk storage of your music files can be the equal of well organised metadata then I have my doubts. To my mind, only metadata can cope with CDs that contain a mixture of works by a mixture of composers. Even albums that contain only works by the same composer must be difficult to browse when it is impossible to list all the works in the album title. How would you know which album to look in for a specific work unless you have a photographic memory?

I'm all for a sensible and well organised disk folder structure but metadata allows you to directly target any work without caring where the music file is stored. You can also exploit more abstract concepts such as musical genres, which is impossible via the file storage structure unless you duplicate the files.

In other words, my approach is quite the opposite of having its "origins in some physical arrangement of media". Metadata lets you break free from the constraints of the file storage system. The power of metadata is such that I can't remember the last time I looked at a folder view of my music.

David
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19-09-2013, 12:11
Post: #17
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
(19-09-2013 00:11)haggis999 Wrote:  ... my goal is the simplest solution that actually does the job.

We can have a useful discussion, because we at least agree on the purpose of the exercise.

Quote:However, I'm struggling to fully understand your post as I'm not sure what you mean by "indexing". I suspect you mean the use of metadata tags.

Yes and no. 'Indexing' is a central concept of database management, and, whatever else our music collections may be, they are also databases (= sets of ordered data). An index is simply a (small) subset of the database that forms an ordered list with pointers to the location of items within the database. By way of example, it is easy to see that the card index (or computerised listing) in your local library performs this function.

When you are modifying the settings in MinimServer, as you have been discussing with Simon, you are, in effect instructing it to change the way it indexes your music collection. Obviously, you are using data in tags for this purpose, but the key to the way MinimServer works is not the tags as such, but the way in which the server uses those tags to build the set of lists/indexes which it provides to the Control Point, so that you can use them for browsing (and, I hope, in due course searching as well).

The most clever thing in this process is the way in which the relevant part of one list can become subordinate to some other list, so that you can browse through the different 'layers' of listing. Your understandable concern has been to minimise the number of steps in this process, but we should at least acknowledge that something rather clever has been done to get you to the point at which you can make the request.

Quote: ... if you are suggesting that well organised physical disk storage of your music files can be the equal of well organised metadata then I have my doubts. To my mind, only metadata can cope with CDs that contain a mixture of works by a mixture of composers. Even albums that contain only works by the same composer must be difficult to browse when it is impossible to list all the works in the album title. How would you know which album to look in for a specific work unless you have a photographic memory?

The folder/file tree is, in fact, just another index, maintained by the OS (with the order specified by the user's creation of folders and files), rather than by Mininimserver. We are used to seeing it laid out as a tree structure, but the system actually stores it in tabular form; each logical drive has a 'file table'. All file systems/OSs now in use use some variant of this arrangement, because it is powerful and efficient, and provides an intuitive means of browsing and searching for files.

Like any single list, the file system has limitations, which you clearly understand. But it also has some particularly useful characteristics. Firstly, because it is a component of the OS, it has to be accessible to every application running in the system. Secondly, it is highly user configurable; typically within a top-level 'music' folder, for example, you can arrange your digital collection in any way you want.

Like many people, I keep music CDs of different genres on separate shelves. I only use a few high-level genres; the more detailed one tries to make a genre categorisation, the more useless it becomes, because art always has a happy way of defeating our attempts to classify it. Within each broad genre, I tend to arrange the music differently, just as fiction and non-fiction tend to be arranged differently in public libraries. The file system can mimic the physical ordering of my CDs rather well; as this ordering (which is of course a de facto list/index) has developed over the years to suit my needs, I tend to use it quite a bit. I don't need to change MinimServer settings to do this. And outside MinimServer, when I am using, say, dBPoweramp or MP3Tag to manage the collection, that standard order is still there.

Against that background, while I understand your doubts, my experience suggests that you will not know how well the file system can work for you unless you use it.

Quote: I'm all for a sensible and well organised disk folder structure but metadata allows you to directly target any work without caring where the music file is stored.

People who don't care where things are stored tend to lose them; that is as true of data as of anything else. If you are looking after your data in a properly organised file system, why not make full use of it? Of course the file system, being just another index, can co-exist with any other index you use. So, in MinimServer, I might use the folder view to get to Classical -> Bach, and then drop into a tag view (= an index) to find the artist whose Bach recording I wish to listen to. I find that very powerful.

Quote: You can also exploit more abstract concepts such as musical genres, which is impossible via the file storage structure unless you duplicate the files.

The file structure can be, and often is, based on abstract concepts, such as my use of genre described above. What the file system (or any single list/index) cannot do is provide more than one ordered view of the data. I quite agree that duplicating data in order to get a multiple view is bad practice in all sorts of ways. Multiple views require multiple indexes, and that is where applications like MinimServer come in.

Quote: ... my approach is quite the opposite of having its "origins in some physical arrangement of media". Metadata lets you break free from the constraints of the file storage system. The power of metadata is such that I can't remember the last time I looked at a folder view of my music.

I have already explained that the file system is just another index; it is not the way that data is physically stored on the drive (we don't need to go there!). Its constraints are not greater than those of any other single index. As I have said, the way we physically store our books, CDs or whatever, if it is not completely random, creates, in effect, a form of list or index. If that 'index' is useful in helping us to locate the physical CD on the shelf, we might wish to mimic its order in our music file system, to help us locate the virtual copy of that CD, particularly on those occasions when no other index is present. If other indexes are present (as when we are using a Control Point to access MinimServer), they can happily work with the folder view, as previously discussed.

The bottom line here is that the file system and other, application-based indexes are complementary; each has its use and, as MinimServer demonstrates, they can work particularly well together. To regard either as a complete substitute for the other would, in my view, be very unfortunate.

(The other) David
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19-09-2013, 12:25
Post: #18
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
Hi DavidHB,
I am truly grateful for your thoughtful and considered response. My wife has other plans for my time at the moment but I will reply in due course.

David
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19-09-2013, 15:24 (This post was last modified: 19-09-2013 15:26 by haggis999.)
Post: #19
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
(19-09-2013 12:11)DavidHB Wrote:  People who don't care where things are stored tend to lose them; that is as true of data as of anything else. If you are looking after your data in a properly organised file system, why not make full use of it? Of course the file system, being just another index, can co-exist with any other index you use. So, in MinimServer, I might use the folder view to get to Classical -> Bach, and then drop into a tag view (= an index) to find the artist whose Bach recording I wish to listen to. I find that very powerful.

I have attached a screen shot of the Foobar2000 UPnP Browser view of MinimServer's folder view, as provided via the default MinimServer settings listed on the right.

This shows the issues I have with a folder view. First of all, I can't see how to emulate your selection of Classical -> Bach. For me, 'Classical' is one of my Genre settings and if I start by making a Genre selection the folder view option disappears.

Secondly, if you focus on the composer John Adams you will see that he appears under 'Adams' in the main folder view tree. All my dedicated Adams albums will appear under that heading (so far, I've only ripped one of them). However, Adams also figures in at least two of my compilation albums as you can see further down the listing. By the time I have ripped my full collection, my Adams recordings are going to be all over the place in folder view.

In contrast, selecting Adams in J River Media Center (where metadata rules supreme) will show me all my Adams recordings in a single sorted list.

That is the key issue that puts me off browsing the file system and the reason why I sought out a metadata-based solution such as JRMC. Once you have a metadata-based solution I'm struggling to see why I would ever return to a folder view. Feel free to persuade me otherwise!

David


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20-09-2013, 14:09 (This post was last modified: 20-09-2013 14:26 by DavidHB.)
Post: #20
RE: Streamlining the browsing tree & multiple configs
It's no part of my purpose to 'persuade' you, because that would imply (arrogantly) that I understand your requirements better than you do yourself. But, as we've clearly both put a fair amount of thought into the way we arrange things, I think that it is useful to compare notes and discuss options. It also happens that we seem to be at a similar stage of ripping our respective collections, and we are encountering somewhat similar problems.

(19-09-2013 15:24)haggis999 Wrote:  This shows the issues I have with a folder view. First of all, I can't see how to emulate your selection of Classical -> Bach. For me, 'Classical' is one of my Genre settings and if I start by making a Genre selection the folder view option disappears.

I'm sorry if this sounds a bit obvious, but the folder view is a function of the way the folders are arranged within your music folder (the folder MinimServer is directed to by its contentDir option). In my case, because (following my 'CD shelf' paradigm), the genres are separately stored, my top level categorisation is into genre folders.

If you look at my first attachment (foobar2000 again), you will see that, within the Classical folder, the next level down is Composer, and then album or album group. I use track names to specify the work, as this works with all the Control Points I have tried.

The second attachment shows my much smaller Pop folder (which is likely to grow as my daughters discover the joys of listening to their music on my Linn DSM!). Here the next level down is Artist, then album and song title, in other words the most widely used arrangement.

The good thing about this view is that it mimics the way that I am used to accessing my collection. You already know the bad news ...

Quote:Secondly, if you focus on the composer John Adams you will see that he appears under 'Adams' in the main folder view tree. All my dedicated Adams albums will appear under that heading (so far, I've only ripped one of them). However, Adams also figures in at least two of my compilation albums as you can see further down the listing. By the time I have ripped my full collection, my Adams recordings are going to be all over the place in folder view.

Quite so. And this is a problem on my CD shelves as well; I often rediscover odd works sitting in compilations or used as a filler when the main work is by another composer. What the problem demonstrates is that no one view is ever going to give us all that we need, and that, when the combination of a Control Point and MinimServer offers us a range of browsing options, it is self-defeating to try to cram too much of our browsing activity into any one view.

There are also several things we can do to alleviate the problem. The first is to make sure that tagging is complete and consistent. This, for me, is a two stage process. Firstly, I use dBPoweramp to rip my CDs, in part because it has excellent facilities for retrieving metadata from the internet and then for correcting and amplifying it as necessary. The second stage is to use MP3Tag to make corrections, and ensure the data is consistent. Using MP3Tag's facilities for looking at many folders at once, and for filtering a view by metadata values, makes the job quick and easy. For instance, it takes me less than two minutes to ensure that all files which have 'Beethoven' in the Composer field have that field set to 'Ludwig van Beethoven', so that all the Beethoven files will appear under the same head in a Composer-based view.

The second approach is sometimes to split the ripping of a single CD into two or more albums in the digital collection. You get plenty of classical CDs that contain two or more disparate works by different composers and of pretty much equal 'weight'. It is a real pain to know where to file those CDs on the shelf, and that is a hint that, in the digital collection, you should not necessarily keep the individual works together.

That said, there are some traditional couplings (the Grieg and Schumann Piano Concertos, and the Mendelssohn and Bruch No. 1 Violin Concertos are examples) where one might want to maintain the integrity of the album. In my folder structure, I put those albums in '_Recitals' (the underscore keeps the folder at the top of the list). The difference between '_Recitals' and '_Compilations' is that the former contains performances by one artist (or one group of artists), and so is typically accessed via the 'Artist' view, and the latter has works by multiple composers performed by multiple artists and so would normally be accessed via the album title.

The third palliative for the problem you described is that, from and level in the folder view, MinimServer enables you to switch to a filtered tag view. So, if I know that there are Handel tracks in my somewhere among the classical recitals I can go [folder view] -> Classical -> _Recitals ->> Tag View -> Recitals -> Composer to find them. That looks like a lot of steps, but it's done in a few seconds in Kinsky on my tablet.

What all this detail is about is the way in which folder navigation and indexing can work together powerfully (as I said in my last post) to give us options that no physical arrangement of media can match. In particular, I can start off in my familiar folder structure and use it to filter the index I then might need to get to the destination. For me, this puts my music collection in a whole new light. Just like listening to it through the Akurate DSM, actually ...

(That) David (, again)


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