SourceForge Q&A: Open-Source Media Player for Windows


SourceForge’s November “Community Choice” Project of the Month is MPC-HC, an extremely lightweight, open source media player for Windows. SourceForge’s editors sat down with MPC-HC administrator, Underground78, and the MPC-HC team to discuss the project’s history, purpose, and direction.

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Tell me about the MPC-HC (Media Player Classic Home Cinema) project, please.

MPC-HC supports all common video and audio file formats available for playback. Based on the original Guliverkli project, MPC-HC contains a lot of additional features and bug fixes. Plus MPC-HC is 100% spyware free; there are no advertisements or toolbars. Also, we care about keeping an open project, open and free for contributions wherever they may come from.

What made you start this?

Since I’m a relative newcomer to the MPC-HC project, it is somewhat hard to answer that question. However, I think it’s important to mention that MPC-HC is the revival of a previous open source project, namely MPC and that’s the beauty of open source. MPC’s development had stalled because its administrator more or less vanished (probably to due to some real life changes) and Casimir Tibrium revived it by creating MPC-HC, based on the groundwork of MPC. After Casimir left in 2009, XhmikosR took care of maintenance. Later on, more developers joined (Armada651, Kasper93, and AlexMarsev), including myself, Underground78.

MPC was created in 2003, when there was not many free multimedia players and there were fewer open source players. The idea was to offer an open source alternative to the first versions of Windows Media Player (WMP) with more advanced features (subtitle rendering, etc). Later, as WMP started following another path, the idea was for MPC to stay lightweight and continue to offer advance features.

Has the original vision been achieved?

We are still one of the most lightweight multimedia players available for Windows and a reference point for features. But it is hard to say since the team has evolved a lot. We try to keep in mind what historically first defined MPC and then MPC-HC.

Who can benefit the most from your project?

Anyone who watches movies, TV shows, etc. on Windows, which is a lot of people. MPC-HC is an advanced player in many way so clearly we have many somewhat “geek” users. On the other hand, it’s still one of the easiest players to use. People who know nothing about codecs, DirectShow filters and more, generally anybody who wants a simple player that works “out of the box” can use MPC-HC. This is our strength because MPC-HC is seen as one of the possible replies to the statement like: “Hey! I’m using Windows and I can’t play that or this video file.”

What is the need for this particular media player?

Basically, we try to make the best of both the MPC and Microsoft DirectShow worlds. So, what we offer is the simplicity of the MPC-HC player, which handles many audio and video formats out of the box due to our embedded decoders, combined with the DirectShow architecture and decoding filters.

What’s the best way to get the most out of using MPC-HC?

Just download, install the software, and enjoy your movie!

What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?

One of the built-in tools we introduced is a way to generate a post-mortem report to use when the player crashes (yes, that happens sometimes). We use the tool to guide and encourage our users to report bugs on our bug-tracker, which allows us to track feedback and further improve MPC-HC. We are usually quite reactive and I think our users like the quality of our technical support.

Some time ago, we decided to use Transifex to maintain MPC-HC translations. Transifex simplifies the work of our translators and has helped us gain new translations (there are more are to come and everybody is welcome to help). It is extremely important for us to offer all those localizations for MPC-HC since; obviously, it helps us reach more users.

We also believe in open source and actively support this development model. We offered DXVA in 2007 when no other player had it. After that, a lot has changed. Now we use LAV filters, an open source project, which is based on FFMpeg and offers many features our old, internal filters did not, or had had issues with. So instead of becoming a shareware media player, we instead provide a very powerful open source solution.

Have you all found that more frequent releases helps build up your community of users?

Yes, it certainly does. We want our releases to be quality releases so we try to keep a stable release cycle these days. With the exception of bug fix releases, of course. We try to give a lot of testing and we have many users who use our nightly builds.

Is there anything else we should know?

We are generally looking for people willing to contribute to open source projects like ours, either as programmers, designers and so on.

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Image: MPC-HC