TuneTracker “System 5,” a complete line of radio automation products for Haiku, came out officially a few days ago on May 1st to very little fanfare. But for me, it marks the end of a long, interesting journey.
In the summer of 1999, writing for this same “leBUZZ” blog, I speculated aloud about the possibility of developing a radio automation system for BeOS, a.k.a the “Be Operating System.” I was already in love with BeOS as a place to do audio because of its stability and jitter-free handling of high bandwidth media. I proposed a demonstration project, and received an e-mail from a BeOS programmer who had caught the vision. Our collaboration resulted in the creation of a simple program called BRS (BeOS Radio Scripter), and the first BeOS-based Internet radio station, BeOSRADIO. We knew we were onto something, and development continued. By June of 2000, we had released TuneTracker 1 as a commercial product, and it has since grown into a whole radio automation suite that has been purchased by over a thousand radio stations on every continent.
It’s been a baker’s dozen years since TuneTracker first “shipped.” For almost as long, a devoted group of coders has been working on a modern, open-source replacement of BeOS. As soon as “Haiku” started to become viable, around 2009, we began designing Haiku-friendly versions of the entire TuneTracker System suite for it. We knew a time would come when no more BeOS-compatible hardware would be available, so the move was inevitable. But we also knew we would need to bide our time until Haiku was completely solid.
In late 2012, Haiku Alpha 4.1 came out, to rave reviews. Haiku had been stable and polished for a long time, but 4.1 erased any and all doubts about its viability as a platform for TuneTracker. The timing was absolutely providential. Just as it came out, we were within striking distance of completing the entire TuneTracker suite for it.
From that point, until we swept the last sawdust from the development floor and released System 5 officially a few days ago, it was clear to us that Haiku 4.1 and TuneTracker System were indeed a match made in heaven. There were no gotchas or compromises. Everything just worked. Everything just ran. It still gives me goosebumps to think about it. And fast? My gosh. There’s no launch time for anything. You double-click on it and it’s there, even TuneTracker itself.
Haiku is the gift that keeps on giving, too. For years we’ve wanted to offer large drive capacities, but BeOS was only able to address drive volumes up to about 60 gigabytes. Suddenly we’re offering “Station-in-a-Box” packages with capacities up to 4 terabytes; big enough for even the enormous music collections found at big university and government broadcast operations.
There have been a number of notable milestones since TuneTracker first came out, including the arrival of the graphically appealing TuneTracker “Command Center” interface in the mid 2000s, the reformatting of BeOSRADIO as Fair Harbor Radio, and the day we started broadcasting 24/7 under Haiku, back in 2011. But personally, I think the release of a Haiku-based TuneTracker System is probably the most significant and gratifying milestone since we first went on the air with BeOSRADIO on a chilly November day in late 1999.