[Libav-user] Encoding with variable frame rate

Brad O'Hearne brado at bighillsoftware.com
Wed May 22 18:53:48 CEST 2013

On May 22, 2013, at 9:02 AM, Robert Krüger <krueger at lesspain.de> wrote:

> After all, most of the work is
> done by people in their spare time and I haven't found many developers
> who enjoy writing documentation (no matter how important docs are, I
> think we all agree on that).

The problem, Robert, is bigger than just finding someone to document FFmpeg, getting volunteers, or motivating people. The bigger problem is that producing good documentation and discussion of a particular technical domain requires an inquisitive and exhaustive approach, willing to drill down to details, and ask questions which put design decisions and potentially either weaknesses or needs in the spotlight. The tone of this mailing list just doesn't have a thick-enough skin for that. The discourse on this list consistently demonstrates an inability to treat machinery as machinery, nuts and bolts, and instead quickly degenerates into personal attacks when a good answer isn't quickly obvious, or when someone refuses to consider that there may be a problem in some part of FFmpeg which someone has adopted as their turf. 

There is absolutely zero question in my mind, from the several projects I've had to solve with FFmpeg, discussions with others, numerous blog posts which lament the undocumented and unknown nature of various parts of FFmpeg, that save bug-fixing, adding a single additional line of code to FFmpeg pales in importance to thoroughly documenting the API with adequate discussion, documenting use, and producing some examples that address real-world use-cases, not "let's just generate some audio samples or a sample images for video", which avoids the real problems of building a robust app.

I love writing, have written technical documentation and technical articles, and had several book deals offered. Given my frustrations and time loss due to a lack of documentation, if it were mine to script, I'd document the whole thing myself, and produce either a book or user guide on this. But given both my personal experiences thus far and observing others as well on this mailing list, I won't go anywhere near it. Too much shoot-the-messenger on this mailing list. Too much condescension if you ask a question without demonstrating deep expertise of a particular concept. Too much passion for sniping people because they don't just by default know something. That, Robert, is the primary problem --  with people making personal attacks, and an inability to drill into minutia with patience, people who would otherwise offer their services are driven away.

I'm not just referring to my own experiences here, I've been on this mailing list a year and a half, and I've watched it with others, too. It's a shame. Entirely unnecessary. 


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