We need to start talking about the future of UTAU's engine development before it's too late

Discussion in 'UTAU Discussion' started by Lystrialle, Jun 1, 2016.

  1. Lystrialle

    Lystrialle Administrator Administrator Tutor Supporter Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    41
    Likes Received
    135
    Trophy Points
    67
    Before I begin talking about this, I don't want to make people think that I'm trying to fear or panic-monger; it's just that with every passing year I find this to be a more and more pressing issue that's gotten surprisingly little coverage despite how serious of an issue it could potentially become. So I'm making a thread in the hopes of maybe just getting more people to think about it.

    UTAU is free (technically shareware, but functionally free). However, it is not open-source. In a nutshell, this means that the only person who can make any updates to the program whatsoever is Ameya, and Ameya only. This is normally not a problem when a developer is active and regularly pushing updates, and whoever makes whatever software is perfectly free to do with it what they like. But for whatever reason (personal life being busy, unwillingness, whatever), development on the program UTAU has not updated since 2012 (Windows)/2013 (Mac). Hell, the page for Windows UTAU still uses Windows XP as its base recommendation.

    In light of recent discussion I've been reading on the topic of emulation and a particularly thought-provoking xkcd comic, the fact of the matter is that UTAU working in Windows 10 completely unscathed was by sheer luck, and we can't count on this luck to continue in future builds of Windows or the Mac OS. Of course, I certainly don't expect UTAU as a phenomenon to continue persisting into all of eternity (especially since its sister program Vocaloid is a closed-source commercial program that's utterly reliant on Yamaha's support), but a closed-source software without an active developer is a ticking time bomb that you can't even read the counter on. Emulators exist, but they decrease in efficiency the deeper you go, and you can't guarantee all the time that they'll work; it would be a shame for a community as thriving and self-sustaining as UTAU to die off because it fell victim to a closed-source software being unsupported.

    In addition to the issue of survival, there are a few minor issues as well - UTAU, being primarily self-sustaining, simply evolves far too quickly for a single-manned closed-source program to handle. Right now, to use UTAU to the potential that the community demands of it, you need a giant handful of third-party plugins with incomplete integration with the editor; even common things like VCV and non-Japanese languages require some very hacky solutions because we're bounded by the limits of a program that hasn't seen updates since 2012. On top of that, the differences between the Windows and Mac versions of UTAU caused a minor fracture in the community, which could have been easily mended by developers with both systems working together to resolve those differences. So the open-source model is probably what would work best for the community.

    There are a few things in our favor.
    • The nature of UTAU means that a number of its components are already exposed - much of the work is handled by the wavtool and resampler, which can be provided by third parties by default, and so the most pressing issue is making a shell that can contain those functions, oto.ini/prefixmap configuration, and UST files. (This is already a tough task as it is, but it's nowhere near the difficulty of building an inbuilt engine from scratch.) It also means that you can tailor a theoretical new program to fit exactly the comfort needs of existing UTAU users without forcing them into a new learning curve.
    • Secondly, UTAU in its current form is a pretty basic, lightweight program, meaning that the Windows version at least will be likely to survive at least a few more OS migrations. (I cannot be as sure about the Mac version, but that's only because I've never used it much.)
    There have been a few attempts at making an open-source equivalent or clone of UTAU, such as Cadencii and OpenUtau, but neither have really gotten off the ground due to the lack of urgency (OpenUtau has had only two developers and hasn't seen a new commit in the last year). The unfortunate reality of the situation is that UTAU is a fairly niche community to begin with, and although we do have talented programmers who have been able to provide us with many wonderful resamplers and plugins, the vast majority of us mainly work as end-users. (I myself am studying computer science in university, but I am nowhere near the skill level required to code something like this from scratch.) That said, I think this is an issue that's been rather low-key for something that should be treated with a lot more urgency, and we need to start thinking about how we want to approach it in the future.

    tl;dr: we need to think about how we're going to continue sustaining UTAU in the future or we're gonna die a lot earlier than we should
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
  2.  
  3. Zoku

    Zoku heta-tan campaigner 2k16 Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    447
    Likes Received
    880
    Trophy Points
    127
    Thank. You.

    The UTAU community's evolution technology-wise has become stagnant. We are only alive because of the few people who actually try to make something new, like Kanru Hua's moresampler engine (a HUGE leap in UTAU tech) and @SarcasTec making FLUID (tho not actively working on it).

    A lot of newer people do not want to fully immerse themselves into UTAU and its community due to its basic and old looking interface, and its lack of updates. It seems obsolete and boring, with immense need for something new, for updated features.

    I would love to help in some way, some how, to contribute code to any open source UTAU project so we can flourish even more than ever before. Moresampler was just the start. We need something bigger.
     
  4. RaccoonButler

    RaccoonButler Founder of The Church of Mawarine Shuu Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    512
    Likes Received
    1,721
    Trophy Points
    118
    Well shit, we are in a bit of a funk then aren't we-

    So, is the only plan we have so far to make a functional clone of UTAU that's open source so it can be kept alive by the community

    Or pray for the second coming of Ameya
     
  5. Lystrialle

    Lystrialle Administrator Administrator Tutor Supporter Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    41
    Likes Received
    135
    Trophy Points
    67
    Even if Ameya's second coming were to happen, unless the code becomes open-source then there's no way to prevent a situation like this from happening again.

    So making the functional clone would probably be the ideal option - that is, if we could get enough people to be interested in such a venture.
     
  6. Kiyoteru

    Kiyoteru Local Sensei / Kuya Supporter Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    2,202
    Likes Received
    3,101
    Trophy Points
    157
    I think that nmasao is working on something, actually! It seems to be a multitrack plugin at the moment, and it can't render sound, but it looks like the plan is to actually replace UTAU entirely.
     
  7. ・✧ Titsu ✧・

    ・✧ Titsu ✧・ The Space Witch Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    180
    Likes Received
    174
    Trophy Points
    70
    I'm always praying that Ameya is only taking so long because UTAU's gonna get a mega-upgrade... chances of that being what's wrong seem pretty slim as of late though. I'm looking forward to FLUID tho.
    --- Double Post Merged, Jun 2, 2016 ---
    bless nmasao.. with that multitrack plugin I'll finally feel comfortable to attempt making usts somewhat.
     
  8. smmi

    smmi Momo's Minion Supporter

    Messages
    8
    Likes Received
    4
    Trophy Points
    7
    Well, that's rather worrisome.. I wonder what Ameya's up to, really. He doesn't seem to be all "gone" though considering he posted some videos around Teto's birthday this year, but still..?
     
  9. Lystrialle

    Lystrialle Administrator Administrator Tutor Supporter Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    41
    Likes Received
    135
    Trophy Points
    67
    This is what I'm hearing as well, although I think I'll have to ask him a little more about this.

    That said, I think this is an issue the wider community needs to be aware of as a whole, and there's definitely gonna have to be more than one developer thinking about what to do going forward.
     
    Mitt64, HoneyPai, keopi and 1 other person like this.
  10. 幸兔雪 (Yukito Yuki)

    幸兔雪 (Yukito Yuki) Defoko's Slaves Supporter Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    586
    Likes Received
    1,591
    Trophy Points
    123
    It very positive to see that he's still somehow around with UTAU (I thought that he's gone away from UTAU - really)!

    Everything is of course up to him at the end of course but people who are skilled with coding/creating plug-ins etc should contact to him about cooperating to update UTAU and keep it up to date.
     
    keopi likes this.
  11. 수연 <Suyeon>

    수연 <Suyeon> Your friendly neighborhood koreaboo trash Supporter Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    612
    Likes Received
    689
    Trophy Points
    129
    I think perhaps the best course of action would be for those in the community with the know how to come together and work on a replacement front end - and hopefully stick to it. Cadencii was a valient effort, but it's long since been made obsolete as the last sign of development was in V2's era. V2 is now unsupported where I don't think you can get the import tool for V4 anymore. It also doesn't properly support banks with a foldered structure, nor does it render cvvc very well. Any equivalent that can replace or at least give UTAU a few more Windows versions worth of use would be welcome at this time.
     
  12. RaccoonButler

    RaccoonButler Founder of The Church of Mawarine Shuu Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    512
    Likes Received
    1,721
    Trophy Points
    118
    It seems like members of the community who are up to the task are a little short in number and a little dispersed so REMEMBER TO ASK YOUR TALENTED NON UTAU FRIENDS IF THEY WANNA HELP RESCUE US
     
  13. WendytheCreeper

    WendytheCreeper (>☉ ͡ヮ☉<) Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    213
    Likes Received
    277
    Trophy Points
    88
    This is an issue that crosses my mind sometimes, and it's distressing to know that I can't really do much about it myself.

    The part of the community that does all the programming stuff is...a tiny few relative to everyone else. I think we should start bringing a little more attention to those people, even if some of them are more well-known to the community than others.

    No pressuring, just start bringing up the future of UTAU around to everyone more. I think the more we talk about it, the more of a chance we or someone will be able to plan and create a solution to this.
     
  14. Chianachini

    Chianachini Ruko's Ruffians Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    95
    Likes Received
    108
    Trophy Points
    48
    I've just gained massive respect for the community's developers. I really appreciate plugins, samplers, and the many revolutionary recording styles.
     
  15. Lystrialle

    Lystrialle Administrator Administrator Tutor Supporter Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    41
    Likes Received
    135
    Trophy Points
    67
    Right now, I think this is the most important thing to be doing right now. As has been said before, most of us are not active devs, so my hope is to make this at least a persistent enough issue that people will talk about it often, and it reaches the ears of those who are both willing to help and are able to.

    At the risk of sounding like one of those Open Source Hipsters™, I do believe that should probably be the ultimate goal aimed for with this community considering how much it suits the needs of a self-sustaining community like this one. Although as an aspiring dev myself I understand the want or even need to keep code regulated, as far as the overall survival of the community is concerned single-manned closed-source replacements will only be temporary extensions of the program's lifespan dependent on the new devs, and every time one stops development the program would have to be remade from scratch again. An ideal solution would maximize accessibility to whatever devs are available and allow the program to more easily evolve to the needs of the community.
     
    WendytheCreeper likes this.
  16. xShadowxXIII

    xShadowxXIII Ruko's Ruffians Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    114
    Likes Received
    66
    Trophy Points
    50
    I see the problem, I've seen the slow decrease of UTAU myself over the years;it almost seems be an achievement to have been active around the times when UTAU would still get updates.

    Do you think someone has brought this to ameya's direct attention already or asked him about his feelings towards UTAU programming? Worst case is he doesn't have interesting in programming the tool itself, but maybe some able programmers could get its code and work off of it?

    I'm not versed in programming enough to offer any support in that direction, though spreading the word and issue at hand, as well as offering my non-programming help is something I can do I guess
     
  17. KNΞMΛTCS

    KNΞMΛTCS Just an UtaForum user Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    307
    Likes Received
    547
    Trophy Points
    115
    I do believe that Open source is the future for Utau.

    I've taken my scoop at this as well (In the form of CadenciiStudio and FVSS), however it's such a big job, and I'm not that great in code, so it went the same path as all the other attempts. I honestly think that learning how to program (not a lot, just a decent grasp) would be the biggest thing one could do for the Utau world atm, because if we can get a bunch of moderately skilled programmers together, our chances are much, much higher of getting an utau-like synth out the door than like all the other attempts with involve just one developer.

    I'd also like to note that someone has forked the Utau clone QTAU, and that fork has been updated in the last month or two. It's a wash as to whether it functions at all or not, I couldn't get QT creator to build.
     
    HoneyPai and sailor _ravioli like this.
  18. Lystrialle

    Lystrialle Administrator Administrator Tutor Supporter Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    41
    Likes Received
    135
    Trophy Points
    67
    I think I've heard of that before (I also see shurabaP on there, who had assisted with Cadencii if I remember correctly). It seems like a promising venture.

    Does it have (or is it intended to have, since you said it can't build yet) backwards compatibility with UTAU's current workflow (resamplers, USTs, etc.)? If it's intended to be a viable option as a replacement it needs to be able to smoothly port the community over, rather than fragment it.
     
  19. KNΞMΛTCS

    KNΞMΛTCS Just an UtaForum user Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    307
    Likes Received
    547
    Trophy Points
    115
    I don't know if it builds yet, I couldn't set up the IDE (it wouldn't let me pick a compiler). It might actually work afaik. It ships with a linux friendly version of vConnect (the engine used by Cadencii) IIRC, dunno about compatibility because all resamplers are for windows. IDK about UST either, haven't checked.
     
    HoneyPai likes this.
  20. Lethe

    Lethe Momo's Minion

    Messages
    6
    Likes Received
    17
    Trophy Points
    4
    Yo. Software engineer here, I do this kind of thing for a living. If you're serious about an open-source version of UTAU, I'd recommend at minimum putting together a team with the following people:

    1. A leader
    2. A user interface/visual designer
    3. Two or more devs

    Unlike a plugin or resampler, UTAU is a public-facing program with a full user interface, making it much more tricky for a single dev to implement. The hardest part of making this kind of software is the non-programming part. Some challenges I could see popping up:

    - Motivation. This is why a charismatic leader is a must, preferably one who has led projects of this scale to completion before. They would have to keep the project from dying and the team from losing interest.

    - Publicity. If people don't hear about the product, don't use the product, don't care about the product, it will die. There's a reason software companies have marketing departments.

    - Product design. If there's not a clear and documented vision for the software, devs won't be able to build it. What will it look like? What framework should it use? What languages should be used to write it? Should it be a web app or desktop app? How will it support Mac and Linux users if it is a desktop app? Should it include any plugins as built-in features, and if so which plugins? How will it support different recording styles and languages with Unicode characters such as Japanese of Korean? If a plugin/resampler has code specifically to work around failings in the original UTAU, should the new software duplicate those failings so the same plugins can work? Should oto.ini file size limits be removed to help along more advanced UTAU like Beta? How should plugins work for non-Windows users? Etc, etc. The problem space here is enormous, and much of it has nothing to do with coding. Most professional teams have a dedicated Project Manager (PM) who does nothing but work out these annoying issues all day long.

    TL;DR quality software on this scale needs a team with a good leader. Visual designer is a must as well. If you guys are serious about making this happen, let me know and I'd be happy to help write the thing. I love UTAU and this community, even if I am mostly a lurker. :smile:
     
    Mitt64, yuyukun, Chianachini and 8 others like this.
  21. Lystrialle

    Lystrialle Administrator Administrator Tutor Supporter Defender of Defoko

    Messages
    41
    Likes Received
    135
    Trophy Points
    67
    To be honest, I'm actually really interested in helping out in a team for this (having been brainstorming ideas about this for over a year and even written a ton of design concepts for something like it). The only thing that's making me worried about potentially spearheading a project like this is that someone like me, who just got out of a class that teaches you how to do basic C++ and nothing beyond that, easily ends up being that "Ideas Guy" who ends up putting tons of work on the table and ideas without doing any actual programming legwork and it makes me feel really bad. :/

    I, personally, am very serious about this venture, however, to the point where I'm willing to put every UTAU project I have on hold in favor of something like this, since I feel like it'd provide a much more significant service to the community than the few covers I barely have the motivation to squeeze in at this stage and my own personal UTAU that I'm the only one with real stake in.

    But do we have enough devs, or, more importantly, interested devs?
     

Share This Page