How to Collaborate On-line – Part I

Break the misconception that once you have a home recording studio, you can do it all yourself. I perform in a band, and benefit from the expertise of the other group members…

Like the saying goes, “The result is greater than the sum of all of the parts”

There are several methods to collaborate online with other users via Ardour and Ninjam… Today, I am going to talk about collaborating with Ardour…

The problem with collaborating online is that the files that are generated when you record an auditory product using Ardour are very LARGE. For example, if you decide to create a zipped tarball (a method to build a single file from a group of directories/files and then compress or “zip” that file) can balloon to 90 Mb to 120 Mb of hard disk space for a simple 4-5 minute song… Imagine posting that file on the cloud, or making that file available on a distribution server! Then just consider the pain of continually compressing and decompressing those files – there must be an easier method…

… and there is…

If you are not concerned with more than one person simultaneously editing the same session, there is a python script (program) that will allow you to easily share your sessions for editing by other users. The name of this application is called session-exchange, and it has been around for several years…

The advantage of session-exchange is that the user can allow for downloading of files to all collaborators of a session, and only have the musicians work on the most recent edits of the auditory product. When you create a song in Ardour, you are required to either create a session, or open an existing session. This allows ardour to create subdirectories to store all audio data into a concise location on your computer system. Ardour uses the term snapshot to relate to a new session file that is generated (i.e. not affecting the original session) that simply stores the current state of the edited session. Therefore, only snapshots (and the related data updates) need to be shared, thus saving space and transmission time. This is an efficient method of collaborating Ardour sessions over the Internet…

An analogy: This may be an oversimplification, but relate it to how the vi text editor works: there is a swap file (editing transaction) and the original file. Only upon saving the editing session is the original file updated with the newer information… No doubt, the swap file is smaller than the actual file, and thus easier to transfer between computer systems. Also, the swap file is useful for backup purposes (eg. in case of accidental disconnection from your remote editing session)… The only difference from this vi text editor comparison is that the snapshot informs the session exchange program which other auditory files are required to be downloaded in addition to the snapshot file…

The following link is a WIKI I created to explain how to download, setup and use session-exchange to help with Ardour session collaboration among users:

[ How to Collaborate On-line ]

Just a cautionary note about session-exchange: The Ardour Session Exchange application is designed to collaborate with a group of people, but only one person at a time should exchange, edit. and save sessions before others collaborate with the same session.

This application reminds me of the SVN or RCS applications, except there seems to be no safeguards to “lock files” when they have been “exchanged” or “checked-out” to be worked on by other users. Perhaps a locking mechanism would be in order in a future release of this application. Perhaps this type of safeguard would be too constricting for the artistic or collaborative process of musical composition…

Regardless, this is an interesting tool which believe I will use many times in the future when I collaborate with my band members….

As usual, I will also include my main Ubuntu WIKI with all my related Ubuntu tutorials, tips, and resources:

[ Ubuntu Guide ]

Murray Saul


~ by Murray Saul on July 9, 2010.

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