Should principles trump progress?

So, HandBrake. It’s great, and the devs are very committed and do a great job. But… A couple of possible features have been cast aside recently, because they wouldn’t be cross-platform – in both cases, they’d be Mac-specific.

You see, it turns out OS X is pretty good (!). Through Core Audio, it’d be possible to add some great features into HandBrake, essentially for “free” – using Apple’s much-better-than-faac AAC codec, and volume manipulation. But… they’d only work on OS X. Now, I can see how it’s important to treat all platforms fairly; but when there isn’t an easy way (or perhaps, any way) for the others to implement this, why make everyone suffer? With respect, I’d say that’s short-sighted – especially when it’s technically possible, due to the separate codebases. There’s even an existing patch to make HandBrake use Apple’s AAC; it’s just never going to be applied.

If it’s presented as an ideological argument, that’s a valid point of view that must be respected. But… HandBrake already has platform-specific features. The Mac version uses Growl, and can rip straight from the DVD (for the moment), to name just a couple. So we’re doing it already; why not continue? Surely, if the default experience is identical – the extra functionality is opt-in, not opt-out – then we don’t have a problem?

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