Beets plugin to manage external files
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README.md

beets-alternatives

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You want to manage multiple versions of your audio files with beets? Your favorite iPlayer has limited space and does not support Ogg Vorbis? You want to keep lossless versions on a large external drive? You want to symlink your audio to other locations?

Getting Started

The basic idea of this plugin is that every file in your library can have multiple alternate versions in separate locations.

Since this plugin is in early development you will need to install it from the master branch. You will also need the most recent version of beets.

pip install --upgrade beets>=1.3.13
pip install git+git://github.com/geigerzaehler/beets-alternatives.git@master

Don’t forget to enable the plugin. You may use the beet config --edit command to add the alternatives plugin to the configuration.

plugins:
- ...
- alternatives

Now, you can get rolling with one of the use cases below.

External Files

Suppose your favorite portable player only supports MP3 and MP4, has limited disk space and is mounted at /player. Instead of selecting its content manually and using the convert plugin to transcode it, you want to sync it automatically. First we give this external collection the name ‘myplayer’ and start configuring beets.

alternatives:
  myplayer:
    directory: /player
    paths:
      default: $album/$title
    formats: aac mp3
    query: "onplayer:true"
    removable: true

The first two options determine the location of the external files and correspond to the global directory and paths settings. The format option specifies the formats we transcode the files to (more on that below). Finally, the query option tells the plugin which files you want to put in the external location. The value is a query string as used for the beets command line. In our case we use a flexible attribute to make the selection transparent.

Let’s add some files to our selection by setting the flexible attribute from the query option. (Since we use boolean values for the ‘onplayer’ field it might be a good idea to set the type of this field to bool using the types plugin)

$ beet modify onplayer=true artist:Bach

The configured query also matches all tracks that are part of an album where the onplayer attribute is ‘true’. We could also use

$ beet modify -a onplayer=true albumartist:Bach

We then tell beets to create the external files.

$ beet alt update myplayer
Collection at '/player' does not exists. Maybe you forgot to mount it.
Do you want to create the collection? (y/N)

The question makes sure that you don’t recreate a external collection if the device is not mounted. Since this is our first go, we answer the question with yes.

The command will copy all files with the artist ‘Bach’ and format either ‘AAC’ or ‘MP3’ to the /player directory. All other formats will be transcodec to the ‘AAC’ format unsing the [convert plugin][]. The transcoding process can be configured through convert’s configuration.

If you update some tracks in your main collection, the alt update command will propagate the changes to your external collection. Since we don’t need to convert the files but just update the tags, this will be much faster the second time.

$ beet modify composer="Johann Sebastian Bach" artist:Bach
$ beet alt update myplayer

After going for a run you mitght realize that Bach is probably not the right thing to work out to. So you decide to put Beethoven on your player.

$ beet modify onplayer! artist:Bach
$ beet modify onplayer=true artist:Beethoven
$ beet alt update myplayer

This removes all Bach tracks from the player and adds Beethoven’s.

Symlink Views

Instead of copying and converting files this plugin can also create symbolic links to the files in your library. For example you want to have a directory containing all music sorted by year and album.

directory: /music
paths:
  default: $artist/$album/$title

alternatives:
  by-year:
    directory: by-year
    paths:
      default: $year/$album/$title
    formats: link

The first thing to note here is the link format. Instead of converting the files this tells the plugin to create symbolic links to the original audio file. We also note that the directory is a relative path: it will be resolved with respect to the global directory option. We could also omit the directory configuration as it defaults to the collection’s name. Finally, we omitted the query option. This means that we want to create symlinks for all files. Of course you can still add a query to select only parts of your collection.

The beet alt update by-year command will now create the symlinks. For example

/music/by-year/1982/Thriller/Beat It.mp3
-> /music/Michael Jackson/Thriller/Beat It.mp3

Archive Files

This is not implemented yet.

alternatives:
  lossless:
    directory: /archive/music
    paths: ...
    archive: 'format:FLAC'
    keep: mp3

CLI Reference

beet alt update [--create|--no-create] NAME

Updates the external collection configured under alternatives.NAME.

  • Add missing files. Convert them to the configured format or copy them.

  • Remove files that don’t match the query but are still in the external collection

  • Move files to the path determined from the paths configuration.

  • Update tags if the modification time of the external file is older than that of the source file from the library.

The command accepts the following option.

  • --[no-]create If the removable configuration option is set and the external base directory does not exist, then the command will ask you to confirm the creation of the external collection. These options specify the answer as a cli option.

Configuration

An external collection is configured as a name-settings-pair under the alternatives configuration. The name is used to reference the collection from the command line. The settings is a map of the following settings.

  • directory The root directory to store the external files under. Relative paths are resolved with respect to the global directory configuration. If omitted it defaults to the name of the collection and is therefore relative to the library directory. (optional)

  • paths Path templates for audio files under directory. Configured like the global paths option and defaults to it if not given. (optional)

  • query A query string that determine which tracks belong to the collection. A track belongs to the collection if itself or the album it is part of matches the query. To match all items, specify an empty string. (required)

  • formats A list of space separated strings that determine the audio file formats in the external collection. If the ‘format’ field of a track is included in the list, the file is copied. Otherwise, the file is transcoded to the first format in the list. The name of the first format must correpond to a key in the convert.formats configuration. This configuration controls the transcoding process.

    The special format ‘link’ is used to create symbolik links instead of transcoding the file. It can not be combined with other formats.

    By default no transcoding is done.

  • removable If this is true (the default) and directory does not exist, the update command will ask you to confirm the creation of the external collection. (optional)

Feature Requests

If you have an idea or a use case this plugin is missing, feel free to open an issue.

The following is a list of things I might add in the feature.

  • Symbolic links for each artist in a multiple artists release (see the beets issue)

Change Log

v0.8.2 - 2015-05-31

  • Fix a bug that made the plugin crash when reading unicode strings from the configuration

v0.8.1 - 2015-05-30

  • Require beets v1.3.13 and drop support for all older versions.
  • Embed cover art when converting items

License

Copyright (c) 2014 Thomas Scholtes.

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.