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A Balance of 2007

2007 has seen updates to the core projects Vorbis, Theora, Speex, FLAC, Ogg, and XSPF, as well as the launch of the Spread Open Media iniative and some changes in the Foundation's policies.

We are proud to announce the availability of libvorbis 1.2.0, the reference library licensed under the revised 3-clause BSD license for the Vorbis general audio format, one of our flagship projects. Vorbis makes it easy for authors to distribute, share, and sell their music without being restricted by licensing issues. Public tests by third-parties reveal that Vorbis is superior in quality and compression to most of its rivals, including MP3. Among other changes, version 1.2.0 brings support for handling multiplexed streams as well as improved support for the corrupted ones.

The Theora team announces the availability of the Second Release candidate of libtheora 1.0, the universal reference library licensed under the revised 3-clause BSD license. Theora is a simple but very efficient video format with a good balance between size, quality, and perfomance. It is suited for use on the Web, video telephony, movie distribution, and videogames that require cinematics. New changes include a revamped API and many changes that have improved quality and performance, boosting support on less-powerful platforms.

The Speex team led by Jean-Marc Valin reports the release of the third Release Candidate of libspeex 1.2, which is requesting beta testing to identify and solve any eventual bug that may be missed by its developers. Speex is our audio format for human speech, which sports narrowband, wideband, and ultra-wideband compression, as well as ports for many architectures. It is suited for VoIP, robot/doll voices, audio books, and podcasts. libspeex 1.2 brings a new jitter buffer algorithm, improved resampling, and a split of the non-codec specific components to a separate library called libspeexdsp.

The FLAC team led by Josh Coalson has made available version 1.2 of the FLAC toolchain and its reference library. Among other changes, version 1.2 brings support for RIFF/AIFF metadata together with speed improvements. FLAC is our general audio format which, as opposed to Vorbis, is a lossless format and is thus indicated for archival purposes and similar activities that require bit per bit accuracy. FLAC is known for the simplicity of its format, which allows it to be easily implemented in portable players.

On the Ogg front, a new policy set this year recommends (and in some cases requires) the use of an extension of Ogg called Skeleton, which improves Ogg in many aspects, including the handling of several multiplexed streams, exact detection of encapsulated codecs, and DVD-like features like language selection. Our tools have been extended to support encoding of the Skeleton bitstream, and we invite all interested parties to modify their own tools to support this extension. Other changes to Ogg include a new set of file extensions and media types intended to facilitate the handling of Ogg files by both developers and users alike. The file extensions are: .ogv (for video), .oga (for audio), and .ogx (for applications). The media types are: video/ogg, audio/ogg, and application/ogg. Note that .ogg and .spx are still the default file extensions for Vorbis and Speex respectively.

On the XSPF front, the XSPF reference library libSpiff reaches version 0.8, the version 1 of the specification is frozen, and an online validator is made available to the public. The initial version of JSPF, a translation of XSPF to JSON, was also made available this year. XSPF is a XML-based playlist format for local and shareable playlists, and is extendable, simple, and useful in many situations.

2007 also saw the launch of Spread Open Media, a community project for the promotion of free formats, Xiph's and otherwise, and will be the one portal for news, information, tutorials, and everything else to do with free formats.

Other projects news include the initial release of Ghost/CELT -- an audio format intended for the low-latency niche --, the final touches to the OggPCM standard -- our powerful PCM format --, the choice of CMML as the format for subtitles in Ogg files, and the possibility of using the multichannel mixing technology known as Ambisonics in Vorbis and other projects.