We’d like your advice: in what format should we make the audio available?
Currently you can only hear Marquis Laughlin read the New Testament. We piggyback off Bible Gateway’s RealAudio files and have learned that many people dislike RealPlayer. They thus miss the opportunity to hear the ESV read aloud.
We want as many people as possible to listen to the audio, so we’ve been considering making it available in Flash format—a button would appear at the top of each passage, and you press it to play the audio.
We have specific requirements for any Flash audio player we use:
- Be easy to use. Ideally, we just want a play button that turns into a pause button when something’s playing.
- Accept a playlist. People can listen to any combination of verses they want; we need a way to specify which files to play.
- Be as free as possible (“AFAP” is one of our favorite acronyms). We like open-source projects.
- Can play different mp3s without pausing between files. This requirement probably means that it loads the next mp3 while it’s still playing the current one.
- Or, can precisely access times in mp3s. A verse might start at 117.32 seconds into the mp3 and end 21.86 seconds later. The player has to be able to start and end right at those times.
A note about the last two requirements: the player only needs to meet one of them, not both. We can take two approaches to posting mp3s. Either we can split our chapter-length mp3s into individual verse files and just play them in sequence; or we can upload complete mp3s and let the Flash player start and end where it needs to. We imagine that writing a player to read mp3s sequentially presents an easier programming challenge.
We’ve found one free Flash player (XSPF Web Music Player—the Music Player Button) that does almost everything we need. However, it has two limitations:
- It only loads one mp3 at a time, so you hear a definite pause between mp3s. We want the transition between mp3s to be seamless. We think it would work fine if the player loaded the next mp3 in the playlist while it plays an mp3.
- It doesn’t start over at the beginning when you reach the end of the playlist; instead, pressing play again takes you back to the beginning of the last verse you heard. We expect it to return to the beginning of the playlist when we reach the end of the playlist.
Where You Come In
We’re leaning heavily toward a Flash solution, but we thought we’d ask your advice. Leave a comment or email us (email@example.com) if you have strong feelings on the matter. (Yes, moderated comments will be open for a while.)
We’d especially like to hear from you if you’re a Flash developer and would care to volunteer your time to help us out. (We’ll find a way to thank you.) We suggest starting with the XSPF player we mention above and tweaking it. (Here’s an XSPF file you can use.)
Update Dec 7, 2005: Links in the XSPF file are fixed. Thanks to Larry for pointing out the problem.