Deprecating MBIDs

This post is an April Fools joke. Rest assured, we have no intention of changing the MBID system that MusicBrainz currently uses.

But, like all good parody news items, there is an element of truth behind this post. The announcement of the Echo Nest API shutdown is real, and with this change you will no longer be able to use the Echo Nest IDs to look up information. This particularly hurts users of the Million Song Dataset, which maps each track to the Echo Nest ID. The new Spotify API isn’t even providing any compatibility api or ID mapping, leaving users to look up 1 million Spotify IDs in the remaining months that the the old Echo Nest api will remain available.

At MusicBrainz, we understand the importance of a stable identifier system. That’s why, 16 years ago, we picked these unwieldy-looking UUID identifiers – that have since proven to have stood the test of time, with room to continue growing. You can look up an MBID made 16 years ago, today – and it will still work another 16 years in the future.

Hello all,

Following Echo Nest’s bold announcement that Echo Nest ids are being replaced by Spotify IDs, we figured it was time to make our own ID change public as well – MBIDs were a fantastic idea 16 years ago, but let’s face it, they’re not the most beautiful thing around, so our MBIDs will now also be replaced by Spotify IDs to help with a proper mapping across tools. Anything without a Spotify mapping will simply get purged. This should greatly simplify the data we have and remove any doubt for some releases whether they exist or not – if they’re on Spotify, they clearly exist!

We would like to commend Echo Nest on their brave leadership in this, giving us the courage to move on from our ancient heritage and try new things. With the speed technologies evolve in this digital age, it can be hard to keep up with things and keep things fresh, but Echo Nest is showing the way forward, and we’re delighted to be able to follow so quickly in their path.

I hope you all will welcome this bold move by our team. We hope to have it ready by next schema change. We know we’re excited! 😀

PS. No, we will not provide a mapping between MBIDs and the new Spotify IDs. We trust our data users to be capable to set things up on their own. Happy hacking! 🙂

Upgrading Postgres for MusicBrainz Live Data Feed users

We’re slowly approaching that time of year: Schema change release time. After skipping our fall update to focus on some internal tasks, we’re ready to have another schema change release in the spring: May 16, 2016

We have started the process to collect features we wish to release for this schema change release and we’ll be publishing that list in the coming weeks. However, we’re contemplating the impact of one more change we’d like to make: Upgrading to a more recent version of Postgres.

Internally we are going upgrade to Postgres 9.5, which was recently released, so we expect that the Postgres team will have worked out the most significant kinks before we’re ready to move to it. However, even though we are moving to 9.5, we are considering the impact on our downstream users/customers who need to make the same or similar change.

While we are moving to version 9.5 of Postgres, we have the option of only adopting features from Postgres 9.4, which means that our downstream users may continue to use Postgres 9.4. However, Postgres 9.5 has some nice features we’d like to use (e.g. UPSERT), so we’re pondering if it is possible for us to require Postgres 9.5 from all of ours Live Data Feed users starting on May 16, 2016. 

We have already informally queried a few of ours users and so far it seems that requiring Postgres 9.5 is feasible. If you are a Live Data Feed user and feel that this requirement of Postgres 9.5 is too much for your and your organization by May 16, 2016, please leave a comment to this blog post!

Notifications and messaging in MetaBrainz projects

During the last MusicBrainz summit in Barcelona we decided to start working on finding possible ways to implement two features that have been requested for a long time:

  1. Messaging between users
  2. Notifications about various actions in MetaBrainz projects

Since MetaBrainz is more than just MusicBrainz these days, we also want to integrate these features into other projects. That, for example, means when a user is reading reviews on CritiqueBrainz they can see notifications about comments on their edits on MusicBrainz. Same applies to messaging. These features are intended to encourage our communities to communicate more easily with each other.

Messaging

http://tickets.musicbrainz.org/browse/MBS-8721

The only ways of communication we have right now are two IRC channels, forums that we plan to replace with Discourse, and comments on individual edits. Sometimes we end up sending private emails to editors for one reason or another. Perhaps it is better to have our own messaging system for this purpose? I imagine it being similar to messaging systems on forums, reddit, etc. We would like to know what you think potential uses are for this and how it might look like to be useful.

Notifications

http://tickets.musicbrainz.org/browse/MBS-1801

Site-based notifications are another thing that people have been asking for a long time. For example, these notifications can be related to edits on MusicBrainz, reviews on CritiqueBrainz, datasets in AcousticBrainz, etc. It can be an addition or replacement for email notifications that we currently have in MusicBrainz. Maybe something similar to the inbox feature that the Stack Exchange network has. People should be able to choose if they want to keep receiving email notifications or only use the new site-based notifications.

Progress so far

We looked at a couple of ways to implement this functionality.

First suggestion was to use the Layer toolkit. The problem with it is that we don’t want to be dependent on closed software and another company’s infrastructure, especially in case of such important features.

Second was to use the XMPP protocol to handle communication and notifications. We tried to implement a proof of concept using this protocol and encountered several issues at the start:

  • It’s unclear how to store messages and process them later;
  • It can be problematic to reuse the same connection in different browser;
  • There are plenty of things that we’ll need to implement on top of this protocol ourselves (like authentication, storage, notifications).

Repository with everything that was implemented so far is at https://github.com/metabrainz/xmpp-messaging-server. Given these problems we started considering implementing our own server(s) for this purpose.

You can take a look at the document where we collect most information about current progress.

Feedback

There’s plenty of feedback on the site-based notifications feature request, and we have a pretty good understanding of what’s needed. This is not the case with the messaging feature. We explored several options for implementing this kind of functionality and decided that it’s time to refresh the list of requirements to get an idea of what needs to be done.

The goal of this blog post is to encourage discussion and gather ideas. If you are interested in these features, please share your thoughts and suggestions.