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January 20, 2005

"QuickTime for Java: A Developer's Notebook": The Java Developer's Guide to Mastering QTJ

Sebastopol, CA--Java has been a huge success in many fields--distributed enterprise applications, mobile phones, web applications--but, according to Chris Adamson, author of QuickTime for Java: A Developer's Notebook (O'Reilly, $29.95), one field in which Java has clearly flopped is media. From the first sound API, javax.sound, through the various releases of Java Media Framework (JMF), developers have been regularly disappointed in attempts to support media programming in Java. Enter Apple's QuickTime, or more specifically, QuickTime for Java. QTJ is a powerful multimedia toolkit adding audio, video, or interaction playback and creation to applications. But, one shortcoming of QTJ is that getting started with it can be challenging. In terms of class-count, it's nearly as large as Java 1.1, and the included JavaDocs are somewhat lacking.

As Adamson recounts, "I've been doing media programming for awhile in Java and got tired of the limits of Sun's Java Media Framework...beautiful API, but won't play anything anybody actually uses. So I moved over to QuickTime for Java. There's much more you can do with QTJ, but its problem is poor documentation. Or, more accurately, an approach to documentation. It's mostly references to C-language QuickTime documentation. Apparently the authors saw their target audience as QuickTime developers moving over to Java, so the documentation assumes a familiarity with QuickTime and just says '...and here's how you do it in Java.'

"Which is totally backwards, of course," Adamson continues, "Because the audience is not QuickTime developers new to Java, but Java developers new to QuickTime. So these are the people who need a book--one that explains all this QuickTime stuff that you're 'just supposed to know,' but wouldn't if you hadn't already been doing it in C for a few years."

Applying the "all lab, no lecture" approach that puts developers straight to work with a new technology, QuickTime for Java: A Developer's Notebook shows how to install QTJ and start building applications with it. The book is filled with useful, real-world tasks for both Mac and Windows that demonstrate how to:

  • Play back audio and video
  • Build editors (with unlimited undo and redo support)
  • Discover new QuickTime capabilities at runtime
  • Save to different formats like MPED-4 and AVI
  • Capture audio and video to disk
  • Build movies out of raw samples
  • Get artist, song, and album information from MP3s and iTunes Music Store Files
  • Overlay multiple video tracks
  • Build video effects, and more
  • QuickTime for Java: A Developer's Notebook is organized into chapters of related material, with each chapter broken down into tasks, most of which can be understood fairly independently. "I can see different readers focusing on completely different sections and not needing others," notes Adamson. "Someone building an enterprise content management and distributed video editing system will probably zero in on the material on editing, reference movies, and converting between formats, while someone building an MP3 jukebox will be delighted to find code to rip the artist/song/album info out of MP3s and iTunes Music Store files."

    Whatever their purpose, developers will find this informal, code-intensive workbook gives them just the functionality they need from QuickTime for Java.

    Additional Resources:

    QuickTime for Java: A Developer's Notebook
    By Chris Adamson
    ISBN: 0-596-00822-8, 233 pages, $29.95 US, $43.95 CA
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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