Assumptions and Limitations

As mentioned on the main page, Exordium does not really attempt to be a general-purpose web music library suitable for widespread use. The only configuration options currently available are those necessary for basic operation. Exordium was born out of my persistent dissatisfaction with existing web music library applications. I’ve been using various library applications over the years but have always ended up maintaining my own patchsets to alter their behavior to suit what I like, and in the end I figured it would be more rewarding to just write my own.

So, Exordium represents essentially my own personal ideal of a web music library application, and its design decisions and operational goals reflect a very specific set of requirements: my own. If your ideal music library differs from my own in even moderate ways, other music library apps are much more likely to be to your liking.

I would, of course, be happy to accept patches which add, extend, or modify Exordium behavior, so long as the current functionality remains the default. I certainly don’t actually expect any patches, of course, given that Exordium’s target market is exactly one individual.

Assumptions

  • Except for the Javascript necessary to hook into jPlayer, and jPlayer itself, there is no client-side Javascript or AJAX-style dynamic page content. All HTML is generated server-side. The application is quite usable from text-based browsers.

  • Music files must be accessible via the local filesystem on which Django is running, and stored as either mp3, ogg vorbis, or m4a (mp4a).

  • The entire music library must be available from a single directory prefix. If subdirs of this root dir span multiple volumes (or network mounts), that’s fine, but there is NO support for multiple libraries in Exordium.

  • Exordium itself will never attempt to write to your library directory for any reason - all music files (and album art) are managed outside of this app. Write access to a directory on the filesystem is required for zipfile downloads, but that directory need not be in your music library.

  • Music files should be, in general, arranged scrupulously: All files within a single directory belong to the same album, and an album should never span multiple directories. There’s actually plenty of wiggle room here, and Exordium should correctly deal with directories full of “miscellaneous” files, etc, but in general the library should be well-ordered and have albums contained in their own directories. This is less important during the initial library import, but becomes much more important when updating tags or rearranging your filesystem layout, as Exordium uses the directory structure to help determine what kind of changes have been made.

    • Directory containment is the primary method through which Various Artists albums are collated. A group of files in the same directory with different artists but the same album name will be sorted into a single “Various” album containing all those tracks. Conversely, if an album name is shared by tracks from different directories (each dir’s files with a different artist name), multiple albums will be created.
    • Tracks without an album tag will be sorted into a “virtual” album entitled “Non-Album Tracks: Band Name” - this is the one case where it’s expected that this virtual “album” might span multiple directories.
  • The artwork for albums should be contained in gif/jpg/png files stored alongside the mp3s/oggs/m4as, or in the immediate parent folder (in the case of multi-disc albums, for instance). Filenames which start with “cover” will be preferred over other graphics in the directory. PNGs will be preferred over JPGs, and JPGs will be preferred over GIFs.

    • Artwork thumbnails will be stored directly in Django’s database, in blatant disregard for Django best practices. IMO the benefits far outweigh the performance concerns, given the scale of data involved.
  • Music files should be available directly via HTTP/HTTPS, using the same directory structure as the library. This does not have to be on the same port or even server as Django, but the direct download and streaming functionality rely on having a direct URL to the files.

  • Album zipfile downloads, similarly, require that the zipfile directory be accessible directly over the web. As with the music files, this does not need to be on the same port or even server as Django, but Django will not serve the zipfile itself. The reason for this is that I want to be able to pass the zipfile URL to other apps for downloading, and for downloads to be easily resumable in the event they’re accidentally cancelled before they’re finished. The text on the download page mentions that zipfiles are kept for around 48 hours, but that cleanup is actually not a function of Exordium itself. Instead, I just have a cronjob set on the box like so:

    0 2 * * * /usr/bin/find /var/audio/exordiumzips -type f -name "*.zip" -mtime +2 -print -exec unzip -v {} \; -exec rm {} \;
    
  • Tags for information commonly associated with classical music are supported, namely: Group/Ensemble, Conductor, and Composer. (For ID3 tags: TPE2, TPE3, and TCOM, respectively. In Ogg Vorbis, the more sensible ENSEMBLE, CONDUCTOR, and COMPOSER. M4A files only support a flag for Composer.) Albums will still be defined by their main Artist/Album association, and Artist is always a required field, whereas Group/Conductor/Composer are all optional. Internally, these are all stored as “artists,” so when browsing by artist, Exordium should do the right thing and show you all albums containing an artist, whether they showed up as artist, composer, conductor, or ensemble.

  • There are many live concert recordings in my personal library, which I’ve uniformly tagged with an album name starting with “YYYY.MM.DD - Live”. Given the volume of these albums, Exordium will automatically consider any album matching that name as a “live” album. (Dashes and underscores are also acceptable inbetween the date components.) By default, Exordium will hide those live albums from its display, since they otherwise often get in the way. A checkbox is available in the lefthand column to turn on live album display, though, and it can be toggled at any time.

  • The “addition date” of albums into the library is an important data point; Exordium’s main view is the twenty most recently-added albums. To that point, updates of the music files will allow the album records to be updated while keeping the addition time intact. Some specific cases in which this is ensured:

    • Updating album/artist names in the file’s tags
    • Moving music files from one directory to another, or renaming the files

    Combining the two may, however, result in the album being deleted from the library and then re-added. If the tags on a collection of files are updated (so that the file’s checksum changes), and the files are moved into a separate directory, the album will end up being re-added, since there’s no reasonable way to associate the updated files with the old ones.

    The most common case of that would be if there was a typo in the album or artist name for an album, and that typo was replicated in the directory structure containing the files. Fixing the typo would involve changing both the tags and the directory names. In order to keep the addition time intact in this case, you would have to perform both steps separately, running an update after each one.

Limitations

There are some inherent limitations of Exordium, based on the assumptions that have been made during its development (and in my own music library).

  • The artist name “Various” is reserved. Tracks with an artist tag of “Various” will not be added to the library.
  • Artist and Trackname tags are required. Tracks will not be added to the library if either of those tags are missing.
  • If two Various Artists albums with the same album name exist in the library, they’ll end up stored as one single album in the DB.
  • If two directories contain files which seem to be in the same album (by the same artist), you’ll end up with an album which spans directories. Behavior may not be well-defined in that case.
  • Exordium completely ignores genre tags. I’ve personally always been lousy at putting reasonable values in there on my media, and so that’s been very unimportant to me. It’d probably be good to support them anyway, though.
  • Exordium only supports mp3, ogg, and m4a currently, though other support should be reasonably simple to add in, so long as Mutagen supports the format.
  • m4a tags don’t seem to allow for Ensemble or Conductor, so that data will never be present for m4a files. (If support for those tags is in there somewhere, I’d like to hear about it.)