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Democracy 0.9.2 – Speed and Stability

October 22nd, 2006 by Nicholas Reville

We try to release a significantly improved version of Democracy Player every 4-6 weeks (we shoot for 4 and usually end up at 6). Since we just released version 0.9.1, we’re at the beginning of the development cycle for 0.9.2. For each development cycle, we make a list of bugs, features, UI improvements, and other changes that we want to make. But there are virtually no new features planned for this cycle. Instead, we’re focusing on speed, memory use, and bug fixing. We want 0.9.2 to be fast and solid.

SPEED
As you know, Democracy Player is still pre-1.0. We’ve been adding lots of functionality as we work towards our vision of what the software should be able to do. Feature wise, we’re very close to 1.0. Now that we have those features in place, there are lots of optimizations we can make that will improve the speed and responsiveness of the app. These changes will also reduce the amount of CPU that it uses. Just in the first few days of this cycle, Nick, Ben, Chris, and Luc, have already made a few major optimizations that dramatically speed up everything the app does. 0.9.1 is snappier than 0.9.0. And 0.9.2 will be much snappier still.

RAM USAGE
Democracy Player uses too much RAM. This can, arguably, be broken down into two issues: the overall RAM needed by the program and memory leaks, which are bugs that cause the application to suck up more memory than it actually makes use of. Overall RAM use is a tough problem. This is a complicated app that does a lot of things at once. That said, there are lots of ways we can reduce the memory needs and we’ll be chipping away at that steadily. The memory leaks are easier, in a way: if we can track them down, they should be relatively easy to fix and once fixed should simply disappear. 0.9.1 fixed a major memory leak and there might be a couple more we can knock out for 0.9.2.

STABILITY
If the app doesn’t start or if it crashes, it destroys the user experience (obviously). As we close in on 1.0, we are working very hard to track down and fix bugs. During this cycle, we will be overhauling our testing procedures and fixing dozens of minor bugs that we already know about. But there are also some big bugs that are eluding us. We’ve fixed every crash that we know of, but we’ve also heard that some people still see crashes or can’t even get Democracy Player to launch. These kinds of problems could be caused by very specific computer setups, 3rd party software, etc. That makes them hard for us to track down because they might only happen on 1 out of 100 computer s. If none of us at PCF have that 1 in a 100 setup, we won’t know about the crash until someone tells us and gives us enough detail to figure it out. A month ago, Nick Nassar fixed a bug that only happened on certain ThinkPads. Nick managed to find a friend in Worcester who had that type of ThinkPad and made a house call.

So, if you are seeing a major bug, like a crash, and error dialog, or if Democracy Player won’t run on your computer, please, please, please get in touch. You can leave a comment on this post, email me (nicholas|at|pculture.org) or file a bug. Whatever is easiest for you. The more detail you can give us, the better: type of computer, operating system version, 3rd party extensions, etc. Our developers are, as we say in Worcester, wicked good. They will be able to fix it if you tell us about it.

6 Responses to “Democracy 0.9.2 – Speed and Stability”

  1. Bruno Amaral says:

    I installed democracy player on Windows XP Pro w/ SP2 and it failed to run.

    Not sure if it’s relevant, but i have 1gb of RAM and an ATI Radeon 9200 graphics card.

    It’s my first time running the software, so I’m a bit lost on what could be the issue.

  2. Jacob Masaki says:

    Occasionally, when a video finishes Democracy Player just freezes up.

    I’m on a box running Fedora Core 5, have an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ (but am using the 32 bit version of Fedora), and have a gigabyte of ram.

  3. Can we expect to see 0.9.1 on Ubuntu before then?

  4. Nicholas Reville says:

    yes, we should have the debian and ubuntu packages in the next day or so.

  5. Steven says:

    Great to hear that the RAM usage is going to be lowered even more. Before 0.9.1 Democracy Player was using over 500mb. Now it is around 200mb. Keep it up. :) I hope the RAM usage can be lowered to less that 100mb.

  6. Dan Geech says:

    Memory leaks!
    I LOVE Democracy player…BUT, Memory leaks are an extreme problem. I would often wake up to it eating up 1.5GB of Ram, but recently, it’s been getting to that level after only a few minutes. Also, it lags my internet connection, even though it’s usually on Downloading about 50kb. I don’t know if this is tied to the memory leaks, but I expect it to be, because the lag of my internet connection is proportionate to Democracy Player’s ram usage.

    I have a dell 8400 with:
    2gb of ddr2
    3.2ghz P4
    nVidia 6800

    Thanks for the player! I anticipating v.1.0!

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