Sunday, August 19, 2012

Need a good format converter for Ubuntu? Check out FormatJunkie!

If you are a user of Ubuntu or use Linux, you might have known about the Ubuntu App Showdown. During that contest, this app churned out of a man named Alex Solanos. This app is called FormatJunkie. This app is an all around media converter. It converts a variety of audio and video formats, and even can convert ISOs to other disc images (in this case the CSO disc image). In addition to audio, video, and disc image files, this converter even converts images.

This applications has a nice interface, although some people think that the icons can be smaller. I personally don't think that is a problem, though.

The app is programmed in C++ in case any of you wanted to know. Info on that is listed on the project's official Launchpad page.

To add a file, just click the add button or drag and drop folders and files. You get a nice table-list that lists all of items that you are going to convert. In this case, you specify that the audio above is going to be output to OGG. When ready, you click the big "Start Converting" button.

The application even supports Unity quicklists, as you can see the the left. Later on today I'll do an in depth look all of you, as of right now at the posting this article I am booted into Window XP.

To view the project's official launchpad page, click here.

How to install
You can install this app by adding Alex's repo (PPA). To do so, enter the following code in the terminal. You can also the PPA via software sources, but using the terminal should be faster considering I am giving you the commands for this:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:format-junkie-team/release
After adding the repo, enter this command to finish installing:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install formatjunkie
After that, you should be done.

In Depth Look
So later on after writing this article, I rebooted into Ubuntu and ran the program and noted some results.

First off, installation of the software was smooth as butter. Pretty much all you have to do is copy and paste my terminal commands, and you are ok.  I think that the terminal said that I needed to download about 3 MB. Either that or it needed to download 1 MB of data to install.

As soon as I was finished installing, I opened my Unity dash and searched for "format." Without even having to enter "junkie", it was the first in the list. I went ahead and launched the program.

Upon opening the program, the first thing I did is observe the UI. The UI is very simple, with large icons at the top showing you conversion categories. After taking a minute to look at the UI, I went ahead and jumped in by converting the new Techman's World avatar image that I created a few days ago for Unity Web Apps integration, as well as for other things. It's host format is PNG, and I decided to test SVG conversion. I did not test JPG and other format conversion, but I wanted to test SVG because you can scale the image without pixel elation  something that can happen when you blog up a fixed res image, like a PNG image. The conversion happened really fast, but I experienced a major problem with it: the SVG kept the transparent background properties of the PNG image, but the actual letters lost their color. Take a look at the screenshots I produced. The first two show the conversion, and the last shows the actual problem.

Update: Ok, so I heard that converting PNG to SVG would be almost impossible. So I'll try PNG to JPEG later on.
Ok, so the image conversion didn't go so well, but I'm not done yet. Next I converted a whole MP3 album to AAC. All I did is drag and drop the older onto the area, and then selected AAC as the format to convert to. I started the conversion, and while that was happening I discovered other features in Format Junkie, but before I drift off to that I want to say my thoughts on the audio conversion. I would have to say that I had some problems. Audio quality in the converted AAC files was not completely terrible, but you do notice a little bit of popping sounds and other flaws such as that. I would like to show you a comparison of the sound, but the tracks are copyrighted. I'll see if I can get permission. I am not going to directly trace the audio problem to Format Junkie, because it very well may be the codecs that it uses is not that good.

When files are done converting, you get a notification from your notification system explaining that your conversion is done. Here is two snap shots that I took from notify-osd.

In addition to notifications, the program also makes a custom notification sound. I wouldn't say that it could sorta scare you if you were not  paying attention, but it will definitely get your attention. So I say that it serves its purpose.

Unity Integration
Format Junkie does have good integration with Unity. It has global menu bar integration, integration with the notify-osd notification system, and Unity QuickLists integration.

When converting a file or many files, there is a status bar and a badge that shows on the launcher with the numbers counting down to show how many files are left to convert. Of course the progress bar fills up as the number decreases.

Format Junkie also has quick lists, accessible by right clicking on the launcher icon. A shot of that can be seen to the right.

Also, you can above the launcher's icon the Techman's World Mini logo (avatar logo). That is there because I added Unity integration to the site. You can see more on that by searching for "Unity Web Apps Integration" in the search box at the top right.
All and all, I think this is great software. While it is still in development (it is pending approval for being added to the Ubuntu Software Center), it needs just a little bit more time under the sun, so to speak. I would highly advice that the software creator look into the codecs issue that I described above. Hope you all enjoyed this in depth look. If you don't use Ubuntu but use Windows and want software that is similar, I suggest you look into Format Factory. I might write about that at a later time. If you have any thoughts, let me know of them in the comments below.