The Future of Openwhyd 🎵

The vision for Openwhyd 2.0, work in progress, and how to help.

Note: This is a translation of “L’avenir d’Openwhyd” (🇫🇷)

As you may already know, Openwhyd is a free and independent platform that enables you to create playlists of songs from several music streaming sources (e.g. Youtube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Deezer…), to share them, and to discover hidden gems hand-picked by our community of music lovers.

I started developing this platform in 2012, when I was the lead developer of the Parisian start-up company Whyd. During summer of 2016, Whyd offered the platform to its community of users, in order to focus on the development of their new product. With their blessing, I took the responsibility of turning this Whyd’s ex-product into an open-source project, re-baptised “Openwhyd.”

Read more about this story in the article below:


Opportunities for improvement

Overall, openwhyd.org still works quite well. That being said, some users and contributors expressed their frustration on a few recurring topics. Examples:

  • Many are waiting for an Android app;
  • Several users reported that the iPhone app is broken;
  • The look and feel could be more modern, especially on the player that can be embedded on external websites;
  • “Openwhyd” is quite a weird and unattractive name for newcomers;
  • Music discovery is mostly done by manually exploring profiles;
  • It’s still hard for developers to help us improve Openwhyd and fix bugs;
  • Last but not least, it’s hard for developers to create alternative clients that connect to our API, while making sure that all existing features will be working.

Most of those issues are caused by the fact that our platform was developed in a very iterative — and rushed — way during its start-up years (2012–2014), leading to what we call technical debt. Also, it’s developed upon now-obsolete technologies and practices.


How to fix those issues, and improve Openwhyd ? 🤔

As suggested by Serdar, one of our contributors on Github, modernising Openwhyd is a wide and complex project. So we need to plan it in a thoughtful and well-coordinated manner:

  • First, by defining our objectives for Openwhyd’s next version;
  • Then, by consolidating the foundations of the current version (e.g. bug fixing, documentation, automated tests) without adding features, before transitioning to the next version.

Let’s propose a vision for the next version of Openwhyd!


Design concept proposed by Claire Marion.

My vision for Openwhyd 2.0

For users, it’s important that Openwhyd becomes more attractive, easy and fun to use. From various mobile devices: iPhones, Android phones, and tablets. Music discovery should be made easier thanks to editorial content (e.g. blogs, interviews…), the possibility to join genre-centred groups, and/or personalised discovery features. (e.g. based on machine learning.) Also, why not think of a new brand identity!

Our partners (e.g. festivals, music venues, clubs and magazines that embed Openwhyd playlists onto their own website to publish their programme) would benefit from a better design and customisation options for our embedded player. We also imagine that some of our partners could contribute to sustaining Openwhyd financially, e.g. by providing a more seamless integration into their websites.

Re-design of our embedded playlist player, proposed by Claire Marion.

Last but not least, we’ll need to modernise our technical architecture, to ease contributions from developers who want to join our effort:

  • Move towards a modular architecture in which the API is separated from our web application; (jQuery-based front-end)
  • A pure API server with 3rd-party authentication (e.g. OAuth), so that any developer can build their own Openwhyd app and allow their users to access their account from those apps.
  • A progressive re-design of Openwhyd’s front-end, implemented using a modern component-based technology stack (e.g. React or Vue.js) and connecting to the new API server.
  • Finally, move from continuous integration (i.e. automated tests are run to check the quality of all contributions) to continuous production, so that any contributor can have their changes immediately visible on openwhyd.org, without requiring any validation from me.
Proposed architecture for Openwhyd 2.0: apps connecting to a pure API server.

Isn’t that promising? 😎


Work in progress, a 12-month recap

Since its transformation into an open-source project, Openwhyd’s technical infrastructure has improved. It’s now more mature, robust and accessible.

Contributors (including myself) have given dozens of hours of their spare time to:

  • Write automated tests to make sure that Openwhyd’s features keep working as expected after each contribution to its source code;
  • Setup continuous integration, so that those tests are run automatically;
  • Remove deprecated modules to prevent security holes;
  • Fix bugs related to playback and detection of tracks from external streaming platforms (e.g. Youtube), and new sign-ups;
  • Improve the relevance and speed of search results, thanks to our partner: Algolia;
  • And help young developers along their first contribution to Openwhyd’s source code.

It’s been a pleasure for me to coordinate these efforts, and to get my hands dirty! I learned a lot thanks to our contributors and their wise suggestions. Thank you! 🙌

I know that some of these efforts did not turn into visible benefits for you, dear users… But rest assured that they are important steps towards sustaining and evolving Openwhyd for the longer term. They contribute to reinforcing its foundations, as explained above. So they bring us closer to version 2.0!


How to support the development of Openwhyd 2.0?

There are various ways to help Openwhyd sustain and evolve, whatever your skills are!

For instance:

  • Spread the word about openwhyd.org, e.g. by sharing your playlists on social networks;
  • Save volunteers some time, by replying to users who share their problems (e.g. misunderstandings, bugs…) in the Music Lovers’ Club, on Facebook;
  • Save developers some time, by gathering detailed information about bugs found by users, into Github Issues;
  • Or, if you’re a developer (beginners are welcome too!), come give us a hand after having read our contribution FAQ.

That being said, what Openwhyd needs most right now is funds, to pay for platform hosting costs. Openwhyd is not owned and managed by a company anymore. It’s maintained by a community of volunteers and crowdfunded thru its community of users.

Unlike Wikipedia, the donations we collect are solely used to pay the bills that are necessary to keep openwhyd.org online. Once again, volunteers are not paid to participate, and neither am I!

Our Open Collective page, to collect donations: https://opencollective.com/openwhyd/

So, if you’re a regular user of Openwhyd, that you hope to be able to keep using it for the following years, and that you would like to see it evolved as proposed in this article, please donate now! We’d appreciate it a lot!

There are two ways to donate:

  • If you want Openwhyd to sustain in the long term: become a backer. It consists of donating the amount of your choice every month, like a subscription. You can stop it anytime. (starting at $1/month)
  • Otherwise, you can give a one-off donation. The amount is also up to you.

Don’t wait for others to do it before you. It would take 600 donations of $1 to cover one year of bills! Be part of this movement, or stay out. It’s up to you!

International users, your bank will automatically convert your currency into US Dollars, so don’t worry about that. Ask Google for the current rate.

Let me recap everything in a video! (English subtitles are available)

If you have any question or issue, please let me know by email at contact@openwhyd.org, I’ll do my best to help you quickly!

Thanks for your support! 💪

Never stop jamming! 🎵