23 Jul

If you are reading this blog, then you probably understand the state of video editors on Linux. There are many video editors, but they are either buggy, ugly, incompatible, abandoned collecting dust, or in perpetual development.

You've heard all of the excuses, "It's too complicated for volunteers", "The libraries just aren't ready yet", "There is no demand for this type of application", etc...

Cinelerra was started by a commercial company, and later open-sourced. Is that the answer? Does it take a corporate backer to make a good Linux video editor? PiTiVi was started as a volunteer effort, but is now being funded by a corporation. MLT, Kino, and Jahshaka have also had corporate backing. Is that what we need? More companies funding video editors? Do we need smarter developers? Better libraries? More creative users... and thus more demand? Why don't we have a good Linux video editor yet!?!?!?!

I feel somewhat qualified to answer this question, having built my own video editor over the past year. In my opinion, the reason so many video editors fail has nothing to do with corporate backing. It's not related to money at all. It's related to the quality of the libraries they are using, and their associated APIs. When an API is not easy to use, it creates a very real problem: overly complex code required to implement it. When a program has overly complex code, 2 things begin to happen. 1) Bugs - hard to debug bugs buried in overly complex code. This leads to problems in stability. 2) Contributors - the barrier to enter the project becomes very high. In other words, it takes a much larger commitment of time from contributors to understand the code base, and thus... you get less contributors. I believe this eventually leads to a dead project.

So... is that it? Is there no hope for the future of Linux video editing? Of course there is hope! In fact, there is an amazing video editing library that already exists! It's open-source, and amazingly powerful. It puts all these other video editing libraries to shame. It's the library that every single video editor on Linux should be using: MLT Framework. I believe this is one of the most under appreciated projects out there today.

Great libraries = simpler code
Simpler code = faster development & fewer bugs
Fewer bugs = happier users
Happier users = more contributors

Ok, maybe that equation is BS, but the point is... Linux has never been more ready for a video editor. The libraries are ready. The community is ready. If you only take away 1 thing from this entire project, please take away this: It is time for a Linux video editor! It is time!