Completed: Proposal User-safe Aliasfiles

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Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This proposal page is about making use of aliased audio files safe in Audacity.
Proposal pages are used on an ongoing basis by the Audacity development team and are open to edits from visitors to the wiki. They are a good way to get community feedback on a proposal.

  • Note: Proposals for Google Summer of Code projects are significantly different in structure, are submitted via Google's web app and may or may not have a corresponding proposal page.

The Problem - Audacity 1.3.12 and earlier

  • Currently using aliased audio (we reference it rather than copy) is the default in Audacity.
  • This has caused some users to lose/damage audio projects. They mistakenly believe the Audacity project contains everything itself and delete/move/rename the original audio. Use of the word Import when actually referencing external aliased audio files contributes to this mistaken belief.
  • The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the waveform graphic in the track remains visually intact, but there are gaps produced in the audio.
    • GA: If you edit the audio, it will be visually silenced too, but what this means isn't explained to user.
  • And further exacerbated in that the user gets no warning/error message to tell them that they have an incomplete project. This is Bug 26.
    • GA: This statement now only applies if they delete audio while the project is open then edit/export without playing, without saving a project or without clicking File > Check Dependencies. The only way round this I can see is for Audacity to lock the dependent files or we warn on import (by one method or another).

The Solution - Audacity 1.3.13 and onwards

Extensive changes were made in the 1.3.13 release of Audacity to address the long-standing problem outlined above. In particular

  1. Copying in uncompressed audio (the "Safer" mode) is now effectively the default setting. On first import of uncompressed files, all users of 1.3.13 (and onwards) will be shown a warning dialog which explains about "copy in" and "read directly" and invites the user to choose one of them, with copy-in set as the default radio button. This happens for all users including those who have previously used earlier versions of Audacity and set their import preferences there.
  2. The warning dialog advertises the benefits of using the aliased "faster" method of import.
  3. We have dealt with the problem whereby Audacity used to just play silence when aliased ("external") audio files were missing from the project. The user is now warned of this occurrence and is guided to solve the problem.
  4. The documentation (the Manual) has been updated to reflect these changes.

The discussion history can be viewed on an earlier version of the pre 1.3.13 version of this page. This page is retained here to provide us with a suitable place to recommend any further changes if thought necessary later.