README for Plait v 1.6.2
Plait (pronounced "play") can do two things for you: find and play
music from your personal music library, and find and play Shoutcast
radio streams. In order to actually play the music it finds, Plait
hands off a play list to one of the supported music players (iTunes,
Winamp, Beep Media Player, Xmms, amaroK, mpg123, ogg123, mpg321, XSPF
Web Music Player, or Plaiter). The end result is that you can type,
plait "miles davis"
and any music by Miles Davis that you own will begin playing in your
music player. More complex commands allow you to play mixes of
several albums or artists, read complex mixes from files, reorder the
play list according to one of several patterns, select a certain
number of tracks, queue tracks, send commands to the music player, and
I wrote Plait because I was looking for an alternative to tedious
point and click digging through my music library, on the one hand, and
tedious typing of long file names, on the other. The solution used by
Plait is based on "hints", which are basically fragments of song
titles, artist's names, or album names. You specify as many hints as
needed to get exactly the music you want. For example, rather than
typing out the complete file name
"/music/Billie Holiday/Ken Burns Jazz/Solitude.wav"
or digging through a file requester to find this file, with Plait one
plait billie solitude
When you already know exactly what you want to hear, this is really
the quickest and easiest way to let the computer know (and when you
don't know exactly what you want to hear, Plait has an interactive
mode that allows you to browse tracks, albums, artists, and radio
Even though it searches the entire music library every time it creates
a play list, Plait is optimized for these types of queries (it caches
your music directory) and can perform them very quickly. With a
medium sized music collection of about 3,000 tracks, queries take less
than a second. On Cygwin, which can be slow, queries take a little
longer-- about 2.5 seconds on a 700 mhz system.
0.1 What's new
Release 1.6.2 is a security upgrade which cleans up all security flaws
related to temp files.
Release 1.6.1 is a maintenance release to track recent changes in the
Shoutcast.com web site. You will need it if you want to continue
running stream queries.
1. About that name...
"Plait" is French for "it pleases," because it is so pleasing to use.
It also suggests the soundalike English word "play," which describes
what it actually does. You might say it's a plait on words. At one
point in the misty past, Plait was known as "play," but that name was
2. Searching your music library
Plait doesn't make any assumptions about the layout of your music
library, but the better organized it is, the more useful the searches
you can do. Ideally your file paths contain artists, albums, and song
titles. In that case you can provide a hint about an artist and get
all the material by that artist:
You can provide a hint which matches just one album:
plait "kind of blue"
Or you can match a single song
plait "blue in green"
(Although examples like these will typically "just work," keep in mind
that Plait doesn't actually know that "Kind of Blue" is an album or
Mingus is an artist. If you have a song named "Mingus", it will play
also. Other options were considered, but this method is the easiest
to use, and it seems to work very well. In fact, it is almost always
possible to create a hint that picks exactly the music you want. See
the section on advanced hinting for more information.)
Because Plait scans your entire music library when matching hints, you
are not limited to results from one directory. So if you have a
compilation album that is distributed by artist throughout your
collection, you can play the whole thing by searching for the album
name. Similarly, you can play an entire album series, as in
plait --random "ken burns jazz"
This type of matching is also useful when you want to play several
cover versions of the same song.
Querying the entire music library for songs rather than finding files
by directory also helps resolve some problems of categorization that
come up when ripping a CD collection. If you rip Cecilia Bartoli's
"Vivaldi Album," for example, do you store that as
/music/Vivaldi/The Vivaldi Album feat. Cecilia Bartoli
so that you can play it as Vivaldi music, or
/music/Cecilia Bartoli/The Vivaldi Album
so that you can play it as Cecilia Bartoli music? With Plait, it
doesn't matter because, either way, the album will turn up when you
type `plait cecilia` or `plait vivaldi`.
Sometimes one hint is not enough to say exactly what you mean, so
Plait does not place any limit on the number of hints you can specify.
This comes in handy when you have a song title that is used by more
than one artist. In my music collection, for example, if I type
plait "walk on"
I will hear "Walk On" by Neil Young, "Walk On" by U2, and the album
"Walk On" by John Hiatt (which includes a song named "Walk On").
Additional hints allow me to disambiguate:
plait "walk on" neil # Neil Young's version
plait "walk on" u2 # by u2
plait "walk on/" # the album by John Hiatt
plait "walk on[.]" hiatt # just the song
(The last two examples are a little tricky. They work by matching the
path separator or the dot in ".mp3". See the section on advanced
hinting for more ideas.)
This feature also comes in handy when you want to avoid typing a long
song title, but the short hints available are ambiguous. If I use the
hint "someday" for example, I get "Someday" by the Strokes, and
"Someday We'll All Be Free" by Charlie Hunter. The command
plait charlie someday
gives me exactly what I want. Feel free to use hints that are easy to
remember rather than trying to be efficient. That is one of the
purposes of hinting, beyond just putting you on a first name basis
with your favorite artists (or you could type `plait someday be` and
save a few keystrokes; it's up to you).
There is an implicit logical "and" between the hints in these
commands, although you do not need to think of it that way if you are
a non-programmer. In any case, you get just the songs that match
*all* the hints, rather than any of the hints. (As we will see later,
there is another type of search in which there is an implicit "or" and
you get songs that match *any* of the hints.)
Sometimes positive assertions about the music you want to hear are not
sufficient to say exactly what you mean. For these situations the
`not` keyword, which allows you to exclude songs that match a hint, is
provided. As an example, the following command plays some music by
Herbie Hancock, leaving out one track that I set aside for special
plait herbie not rockit
You can use as many "not" hints as you like, but you have to make at
least one positive assertion about the music you want to hear, and it
has to be the first hint on the command line. Therefore
plait not miles
will look for a song named "not" by Miles Davis. This is intentional.
If you really want to hear random selections from almost your entire
collection, you can just use a very broad positive assertion, as in
plait --random ".*" not miles
(".*" is a regular expression that matches anything. See the section
on advanced hinting.)
The features explained so far allow you to pick out a particular
track, artist, album, or series, but sometimes you are interested in
mixing together material from several artists or albums. In that case
you will want the `--mix` option, which picks tracks that match *any*
of your hints rather than all of them. For example
plait --mix metheny hunter "tj kirk" "broun fellinis"
will create a play list with a selection of jazz artists. Because it
allows me to do something that would be totally impractical with CDs,
the ability to make mixes has changed my listening habits more than
any other feature of Plait.
3. Playing radio streams
Plait can search the Shoutcast web site, find stations matching your
query, and play them in your music player. If you are interested in
hearing trance music, for example, you might try
plait --stream trance
You can use a hint that contains spaces by enclosing it in quote
marks, as in
plait --stream "modern jazz"
As of Plait 0.53, stream queries support multiple hints and the `not`
keyword, just like music library queries. This allows you to search
for radio stations much more selectively than before. The `--mix`
keyword is also supported, but not the `as` keyword or mix files. The
current thinking is that these features would be of limited usefulness
Genre hints work well, because the Shoutcast directory includes a
genre in the description of each radio station, but you can try other
types of search, including by station name, call letters, artist or
By default, you get the most popular stations matching your query, but
if you don't like the popular stations in a certain genre, you can mix
things up with the `--random` option (see below). For performance
reasons, Plait limits you to ten streams (because they take a while to
load into the music player), but you can request more with the
`--tracks` option. In interactive mode, the number of streams is
plait --stream --random --tracks 5 jazz not smooth
plait --stream 70s
plait --stream bachata
plait --stream NPR -i
4. Mix Files
As you make more complex mixes you may begin to use so many hints that
they become inconvenient to type. At this point you will be ready for
mix files. Once you have created an appropriate mix file with a hint
for each jazz artist in your collection, for example, you can type
plait --mixfile jazz --random
to play random selections from your entire jazz collection. Creating
mix files is easy because they are just text files with lists of
hints, but Plait is also capable of creating mix files for you. First
let's look at creating a mix file by hand. Mix files are stored in a
subdirectory of your music directory. Specifically, if your music
directory is /music, the mixfiles are at /music/.plait/mixfiles.
(Storing them here rather than in plait's working directory allows you
to continue using your mix files when you are accessing your music
collection as a guest on someone else's computer.) To create a mix
file for jazz, then, you might type the following into
"billie" "blakey" "brubeck" "coltrane" "dolphy" "getz"
"hunter" "metheny" "miles" "mingus" "ornette" "rollins"
"scofield" "stanton" "surman" "thelonious"
(The hints should be separated by spaces or line feeds. It is only
necessary to enclose a hint in quote marks if it contains a space.)
That's all there is to it.
Plait also has a simple syntax for creating mix files automatically,
using the `as` keyword. For example, the following command creates a
mix file and plays some cuts from it simultaneously:
plait --mix galactic "scott amendola" "oranj symphonette"
The `as` keyword also comes in handy when you need to maintain mix
files. Let's say you have a jazz mix file and you acquire some new
music by Herbie Hancock. You can add him to the jazz mix as follows:
plait --mixfile jazz herbie as jazz
If Herbie Hancock were already in your jazz mix, no harm would be
done--Plait makes sure that each hint occurs exactly once.
You can use more than one mix file with a `plait` command. This allows
you to create a "mix of mixes," for example:
plait --mixfile jazz --mixfile postjazz as alljazz
In general, you can combine mix files and hints freely on the command
line, allowing you to play variations on a given mix depending on your
plait --mixfile jazz not miles not ornette
Because they are based on hints, mix files have some of the features
of play lists and some of the features of genres. As with play lists,
a given artist can be included in as many mix files as you like. This
allows you to create free form, overlapping categories for artists,
rather than being forced to assign each artist to a single fixed
category. As with genres, on the other hand, once an artist belongs
to a mix, any new music you purchase by that artist is automatically
added to the mix. In this sense mix files are more dynamic than play
(By the way, nothing said here should be taken to mean that mix files
always have to consist of artist hints. That is probably the typical
case, but there is nothing to prevent you from using album hints or
song hints in your mix files.)
Since you create mix files yourself, they require a little more work
than genres, which can probably be assigned using automated tools.
But it really doesn't take long to create mix files, and you will find
that the added flexibility is worth the effort.
5. Playlist optimization
When you create a mix featuring two artists, it is most likely that
you would like to hear approximately the same number of tracks from
each artist. But if, for example, you have 6 albums by artist A and
only 2 by artist B, tracks by artist A will dominate the playlist
Plait creates. As of Plait 1.2 there is a playlist optimizer which
addresses this problem by balancing the playlist. It has other nice
features as well.
You need to enable the playlist balancer by setting a track count with
the `--tracks` option; otherwise you get the old behavior where Plait
selects all the tracks that match your hints. There are special
symbolic track counts which control the behavior of the playlist
balancer. Some examples will clarify:
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks all
This command creates a playlist with all the available tracks from
Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. This is also the default behavior if
you don't specify a track count.
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks min
This command determines the number of tracks in the smallest hint
group and then creates a balanced playlist by selecting that number of
tracks from each group. Some tracks from larger hint groups will be
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks max
This command determines the number of tracks in the largest hint group
and then creates a balanced playlist by selecting that number of
tracks from each group. Some tracks from smaller hint groups will be
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks avg
This command determines the average number of tracks per group and
then creates a balanced playlist by selecting that number of tracks
from each group. Some tracks may be skipped and some tracks may be
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks 20
This command creates a balanced playlist with approximately 20 tracks.
Tracks may be skipped or repeated depending on the particular count
you specify and the number of tracks in the source playlist.
Because Plait is designed to create unique playlists every time you
run it, there is a lot of random fudge in the algorithm that balances
playlists. The track counts you specify are just goals; they are
translated into a probability that tracks from each group will be
selected and this is combined with a random number to determine
whether each track is selected. As a result, the playlist will
contain a number of tracks close to the goal you specify but not
necessarily exactly the same.
#### Weighting the balance
It's not always the case that you want to hear exactly equal amounts
of music from each artist, and Plait provides a simple way to weight
the balance when you don't, by repeating hints. The following command
creates a mix with more tracks by Miles Davis than John Coltrane:
plait -l --mix davis davis coltrane --tracks 15
This sets a 2:1 ratio between Miles Davis tracks and John Coltrane
tracks as a goal. Depending on the content of the source playlist,
the goal may or may not be achieved exactly. Tracks will not be
repeated in order to achieve the goal; the effect of repeating hints
is just to give each track a "second chance" in the case where it is
not printed the first time it matches a hint.
This technique can be used to generate a playlist with a featured
artist or featured album, for example
plait -l --mixfile jazz 58 58 --tracks 30 --stripe
This command creates a playlist with a variety of Jazz tracks, but
featuring the album "'58 Sessions" by Miles Davis.
The playlist optimizer also allows you to order the tracks in the
playlist according to one of several patterns:
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks 15 --sort
The --sort option causes the tracks to appear in sorted order
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks 15 --stripe
The --stripe option picks one track matching hint a and then one track
matching hint b, in an alternating pattern. Within the stripes, the
tracks appear in sorted order.
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks 15 --stripe2
--stripe2 is similar to --stripe, but within the stripes the tracks
appear in random order.
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks 15 --fade
The --fade option arranges the tracks matching each hint according to
a gaussian distribution. The effect is that tracks matching each hint
are clustered around a certain position in the playlist and appear
less frequently as you move away from that position. Thus each
section of the playlist focuses on one artist, but there are no rigid
boundaries between the sections.
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks 15 --random
In this case tracks are arranged randomly.
plait -l --mix "miles davis" "charles mingus" --tracks 15 --group
The --group option groups the tracks by hint and shuffles randomly
within each group.
#### Target devices
The final new feature of the playlist optimizer is intended to help
people with a mixture of lossy and lossless encodings in their music
libraries. It filters the playlist so that the encoding types you
specify are either preferred or used exclusively, allowing you to
create playlists that are suitable for a variety of target devices,
including Hi-Fi stereos, disk-based portable music players, and
flash-based portable music players. Examples:
plait doors --device hifi
This command selects tracks in both lossless and lossy formats. If a
given track is available in more than one format, the lossless
encoding is preferred. It is suitable for a home stereo with high
quality audio. This is also the default device.
plait doors --device medium
This command selects tracks in both lossless and lossy formats. If a
given track is available in more than one format, the lossy
encoding is preferred. It is suitable for a disk-based portable music
plait doors --device compact
This command selects tracks in the mp3 format only. It is suitable
for a flash-based portable music player like the iPod Shuffle.
You can define your own target devices or change the default device in
the config file. See section 10.
In all cases, two files are considered to be the same track in
different formats if the file paths are identical except for the
extension. Thus the following two files are considered to be the same
track in two different formats:
/music/Miles Davis/Kind of Blue/Blue in Green.wav
/music/Miles Davis/Kind of Blue/Blue in Green.mp3
The following two files are not considered to be the same track in two
/music/WAV/Miles Davis/Kind of Blue/Blue in Green.wav
/music/MP3/Miles Davis/Kind of Blue/Blue in Green.mp3
These options provide finer control over the music you play:
### --list, -l
Learning to use hints involves trial and error. The `--list` option
facilitates this by allowing you to see what songs a hint will play
without actually playing them. Its use is self-explanatory. If you
like the songs listed, you don't have to run the query again to play
them. Simply typing
without any hints plays the list returned by the last query.
### --queue, -q
Normally the songs found by a `plait` command will play instantly,
interrupting whatever was playing when you typed the command. If you
want the songs to be added to the play list, use `--queue`. They will
begin playing after the previous play list completes (mpg123 and
mpg321 do not support queuing, but Plaiter, which is a front end to
those programs, supports queuing and several more features.)
### --random, -r
By default, songs are sorted by file path. If your music library is
organized by artist, album, and title, your playlists will be
organized the same way. If your song names are preceded by track
numbers, they will play in album order. `--random` is for those times
when you want a little variety. It shuffles the play list before
sending it to your music player.
Plays tracks in sorted order. --sort is also the default.
Arranges tracks in an alternating pattern with one track matching hint
a, followed by one track matching hint b, and so on until all of the
hints have been used; then the pattern repeats. Within the stripes,
tracks appear in sorted order. This option does not apply to stream
Arranges tracks in an alternating pattern with one track matching hint
a, followed by one track matching hint b, and so on until all of the
hints have been used; then the pattern repeats. Within the stripes,
tracks appear in random order. The hints themselves are also
shuffled, so you get a different pattern every time. This option does
not apply to stream queries.
Clusters the tracks matching each hint around a particular position in
the playlist, in a gaussian distribution. Thus each section of the
playlist is focused on tracks matching one hint, but there are no
rigid boundaries between the sections. Within each cluster, tracks
are distributed randomly. This option does not apply to stream
Groups tracks by hint. Within hint groups, tracks appear in random
order. This option does not apply to stream queries.
### --stream, -s
Plays Shoutcast radio streams (see Section 3). Examples:
plait --stream --random --tracks 5 salsa
plait --stream kplu
plait --stream chinese
plait --stream --random reggaeton
### --tracks, -t
Normally, Plait plays at most ten radio stations at a time, or an
unlimited number of tracks. More than that and your music player will
freeze for a while, which can seem broken. This option allows you to
override the default values. For example
plait --mix --tracks 10 "nick cave" "nick drake"
plait --stream --tracks 20 industrial
As of Plait 1.2, this option behaves differently depending on whether
or not you are doing a stream query. For stream queries, the track
count must be a number and it is a simple limit on the number of
stations that will be selected.
For library queries, the track count is a goal for the playlist
balancer. In addition to particular numbers, there are symbolic track
counts which control the behavior of the balancer, including min, max,
avg, and all. See Section 5.
### --mix, -m
This option selects songs which match *any* of the hints you provide
rather than *all* of them. As an example,
plait --mix "broun fellinis" "stanton moore" motherbug
creates a play list with tracks by three bands. This option does not
effect negative assertions.
### --mixfile, -f
This option causes Plait to read hints from a file. Tracks are then
selected from the music library just as if you had typed the hints on
the command line with the `--mix` option. See Section 4. You can use
this option multiple times to specify more than one mix file:
plait -f punk -f rock
plait --mixfile punk --mixfile rock
Just as `--mixfile` causes Plait to read hints from a file, the `as`
keyword causes Plait to write hints to a file, for example:
plait "neil young" "john hiatt" "nick drake" "john cale" \
In naming mix files, it is best not to use spaces. You can force
Plait to accept a mix file with a space in its name by enclosing the
name in quote marks, but in this case Plait will just replace the
space with a dash. So
plait --mix belafonte strummer as "calypso punk"
will actually create a mix file named "calypso-punk". The same
logic applies to the --mixfile option, so
plait --mixfile "calypso punk"
will correctly find the file you created. The only time you need to
be aware of this rule is when you create mix files by hand--don't use
spaces in their names.
### --device, -d
This option specifies a target device for the playlist. The target
device determines what kinds of files will be selected or preferred.
There are three predefined target devices: "hifi" accepts all file
types but prefers lossless encodings when a given track is available
in more than one encoding; "medium" accepts all file types but prefers
lossy; and "compact" accepts lossy encodings (mp3) only. It is
possible to define your own target devices; see the section on
### --cache, -c
You need to run `plait` with this option whenever the contents of your
music directory changes. Plait will rescan the entire music directory
and find every new piece of music. Keep in mind that each guest
configuration has its own cache. As of Plait 0.53 this option has an
optional directory argument which causes the rescanning to be
restricted to a subdirectory of your music library, useful for doing a
quick update when you have added, renamed, or deleted music by a
single artist. For example, if your music directory is /music,
plait -c "David Kane Quartet"
will rescan only the `/music/David Kane Quartet` directory. It only
takes about a minute to scan a 3,000 track music library, so if you
lose track of which directories you have scanned, you may simply want
to rescan everything.
Important note: if you rename an artist or album, you may have to run
two cache commands to register the change correctly. If, for example,
you moved music by the band R.E.M from the directory R.E.M to the
directory REM, you would run the commands
plait -c R.E.M
plait -c REM
The first command will delete old cache entries that point to songs
which no longer exist. The second command will register the songs in
their new location.
### --guest, -g
This option provides support for multiple, named configurations. The
main reason you would want this is that each configuration can have a
different music directory. So if a friend has a music collection that
is accessible on your LAN, he will be able to play his music from your
computer. To use this feature, just provide a guest name, for example
plait --guest mypal "einsturzende neubauten"
The first time you use a new guest name, Plait will ask for the
location of that guest's music directory. Subsequently, the location
will be remembered. It is up to you to mount the guest music
directory, if that is necessary. This feature should be particularly
useful if you have a VPN set up, but I have not had a chance to test
When you use a guest configuration you also get the guest's mix files
(and lose your own mix files temporarily). It is done this way
because mix files tend to be compatible with the collection for which
they were created.
This option allows you to temporarily override the default platform.
The single argument can be any of the values allowed for the variable
This option allows you to temporarily override the cover art setting.
"--coverart 1" causes cover art to be located on the Amazon.com web
site when creating XSPF playlists. "--coverart 0" turns off this
### --interactive, -i
This option selects interactive mode, in which each track or station
in the playlist is presented for you to vote yes or no on. When
editing tracks, the available responses are:
* y or yes: play this track
* n or no: don't play this track
* Y or Yes: play this track and all remaining tracks
* N or No: don't play this track or any of the remaining tracks
* u or up: move up one level in the hierarchy (from tracks
to albums, for example).
* d or down: move down one level in the hierarchy
* /: search forward
By moving up one or two levels you can vote on albums or artists all
at once. When searching, you may enter a search term immediately
after the slash. A slash by itself repeats the prior search. If
there was no prior search you will be prompted for a search term.
For the purpose of moving through the hierarchy, the character "/" is
used to separate the levels. If your music library is laid out
differently, you can set this to something else in the config file,
LEVELSEP=" - "
In more complex cases, you may want to use a regular expression, for
LEVELSEP="(/| - )"
For display purposes, the "/" character will be used as the separator,
but the regular expression will be used internally.
When editing radio streams, the available responses are:
* y or yes: play this stream
* n or no: don't play this stream
* Y or Yes: play this stream and all remaining streams
* N or No: don't play this stream or any of the remaining streams
* /: search forward
Plait does its best to present a helpful description of each stream,
but sometimes the Shoutcast web page will outwit Plait's regular
expression-fu and you will see HTML gunk in the description.
This option forwards the command "play" to the music player.
This option forwards the command "pause" to the music player.
This option forwards the command "stop" to the music player.
This option forwards the command "next track" to the music player.
This option forwards the command "previous track" to the music player.
This option installs Plait. You will normally need to do this only
once, but it may also come in handy if Plait stops working because an
important file is deleted. To do a complete reinstall, run this
command from the install directory. You should run this option as
root, using the `su` or `sudo` command.
This option uninstalls Plait. It is up to you to uninstall any
prerequisites you had to install to make it work, if you don't want
them anymore. If you installed Plait as root, you should run this
option as root, using the `su` or `sudo` command.
Shows brief help text.
Shows information about the version of `plait` you are using, the
license, and the author.
7. Advanced hinting
Plait hints are actually extended regular expressions that will be
executed by a `grep` command, which fact enables certain advanced
queries. If you are familiar with regular expressions, some examples
have probably occurred to you already. This section provides some
ideas for the uninitiated.
Simplicity is one of Plait's goals and as a result a division is drawn
between simple queries, which include several hints that must all be
matched, usually narrowing the results to a song or an album, and mix
queries, which match any of their hints. But sometimes you would like
a query which combines a little of both. For example, what if you
want to hear "Solitude" by Billie Holiday (but not by Marc Ribot) and
"Walk On" by Neil Young (but not by U2). One solution is to use two
plait billie solitude
plait -q "walk on" neil
However, there is a one line solution which depends on the fact that
in regular expressions, the string ".*" matches anything. By
exploiting this fact we can combine two hints into one complex hint.
The resulting command is
plait --mix "billie.*solitude" "neil.*walk on"
In this way the "and" part of each query is built into a single hint
and then the two complex hints are "or"-ed together with the `--mix`
option. A variation on this idea is to combine the "or" parts of a
query into a complex hint and then "and" it with another hint. For
example, the following query plays three of my favorite tracks by
plait charlie "flau|dersu|revo"
The fact that ".*" means "anything" is also useful if you are simply
looking for a way to play a little of everything from your
collection. For example, the following query plays 17 random tracks:
plait --tracks 17 ".*" --random
Some of the more interesting regular expressions will rely on the
naming conventions you use in your music library. Here's one that
works if your tracks are numbered. It will play the first two tracks
of each John Coltrane album in a collection:
plait coltrane "0[1-2]"
The fact that Plait uses whole path matching occasionally results in
ambiguous hints when albums and songs are named eponymously. However,
it is generally easy to come up with a precise hint with a little
thought. The following suggestions assume that your music library is
organized by Artist/Album/Song, but similar techniques would apply to
other layouts. An example of an album and song with the same title is
"Walk On" by John Hiatt. Here the trick is to match the path
separator, in order to pick the album, or the dot before the file
type, in order to pick the song:
plait "walk on/" # the album
plait "walk on[.]" # the song
The brackets are necessary around the dot because dot is a regular
expression matching any single character. The brackets tell Plait
that we really mean a literal dot.
Distinguishing an eponymous album from the artist is a little trickier
because they will both end with the path separator. For example,
Charlie Hunter has a self-titled album which appears in my music
/music/Charlie Hunter/Charlie Hunter/
Typing `plait "charlie hunter"` will give me everything by that
artist, not just the album I am interested in. In this case the
secret is to match a combination of artist and title which is unique
to the album "Charlie Hunter," for example
plait "Charlie Hunter/Charlie Hunter"
(or `plait ter/cha` for the terse-minded).
#### Using precise hints
Many of the examples in this document use a relaxed form of hinting
which is convenient and easy. Most of the time hints like these will
"just work". Every once in a while, though, this approach breaks
down. For example,
may get you
/music/Byrds/Eight Miles High
/music/Who/I Can See for Miles
rather than the Miles Davis music you might have been looking for.
may get you
/music/Talking Heads/Remain in Light
rather than music by the band R.E.M. In cases like this you should
just use a more precise hint, ie
plait "/miles davis/"
Since Plait is glue ware, it has several dependencies. Follow these
instructions to make it all work.
As of Plait 1.5.2, it is possible to install Plait to a directory of
your choice. Since this could lead to a situation where you have
multiple versions of Plait installed in different directories, it's a
good idea to uninstall any old versions of Plait prior to upgrading.
But if you know you are installing to the same directory as the old
version of Plait, this isn't really necessary.
### Windows/Cygwin prerequisites
Running Plait on Windows requires that you install Cygwin, the open
source UNIX compatibility layer for Windows. Follow the instructions
at Cygwin.com to download and install Cygwin. Plait also requires two
optional packages, wget and gawk. Be sure to select these packages
when you run Cygwin Setup.
For those who are using Winamp, you may need to install it. Get
Winamp at Winamp.com.
In order to control Winamp, Plait uses a COM object written by John
Adcock. To install it:
* Download gen_com.zip from www.adcock8.freeserve.co.uk/winamp.htm
* Copy gen_com.dll into the C:\Program Files\Winamp\Plugins directory.
* Restart Winamp. Winamp will detect and install the new plugin.
For those using iTunes, a standard installation of that program should
work without any additional steps, but you need to edit the file
~/.plait/config to make iTunes your music player. Change the line
that defines PLATFORM to read
### OS X prerequisites
Running Plait on OS X requires one package that isn't part of the
default install: wget. You can compile wget from source and install
it yourself, if you know how to do that sort of thing. The easier
option is to install "fink" and have fink install wget for you:
* Download fink from fink.sourceforge.net. Follow the instructions
provided there to install it.
* Now install wget. Type
sudo apt-get install wget
and enter your administrator password when prompted.
(Users of Plait 0.53 and earlier also need to take the following step:
* Install gawk and findutils. Type
sudo apt-get install gawk findutils
Newer versions of Plait don't depend on these packages.)
### GNU/Linux prerequisites
On GNU/Linux, Plait works with ogg123, mpg123, mpg321, Xmms, Beep
Media Player, or amaroK. If you are using Xmms, xmms-shell is also
required. Installation varies depending on your distro. Be sure to
install the package esound if you want to play via esd.
Xmms, Beep Media Player, or amaroK will be used if they are present.
If not, Plaiter will be used as a front end to any command line
players that are present. Otherwise Plait will work in "list only"
mode unless you configure your own player.
### Finishing up (all operating systems)
You now have all the prerequisites to run Plait. The last step is
installing Plait itself:
* Untar the package:
tar xvzf plait-x.xx.tar.gz
* Tell `plait` to install itself. You may run this command as a
non-root user, in which case Plait will default to installing in
your home directory; you may run it as root, in which case Plait
will default to installing in /usr/local; or you may set the install
directory to anything you like by providing an argument. Examples:
su -c "./plait --install"
sudo ./plait --install
sudo ./plait --install /usr
If you install Plait as a non-root user, you may have to add ~/bin to
your path. On Cygwin, the install routine does not actually check
whether you are root, but rather whether or not you have permission to
touch root's files. This works well because a typical install of
Cygwin creates a non-root user with root permissions, and there is no
su command. Thus (on Cygwin only), as long as you have permission to
touch root's files, install will default to /usr/local.
Plait is now ready to run. The first time you run it, Plait will do
some additional self-installation which involves asking for the
location of your music directory. You only have to do this once.
### Setting up for XSPF
If you want to use the XSPF web publishing feature, you will need to
install the XSPF Web Music Player
(http://musicplayer.sourceforge.net). Download and unpack the player
from that address and then copy the file xspf_player.swf to
If your music library is located on a web server, you also need to set
the variable BASEURL, for example:
Otherwise, leave BASEURL set to the empty string.
If your music directory is laid out as Artist/Album/Song, you're all
set. Otherwise, you may need to set the three variables ARTISTIDX,
ALBUMIDX, and SONGIDX in the config file. For Example, if your music
directory is laid out as Artist/Year/Album/Song, set
If your music directory is laid out as Artist/Artist - Album - Song,
LEVELSEP="(/| - )"
If you installed Plait as root, you must be root to uninstall it;
otherwise you must be the same user as you were during installation.
su -c "plait --uninstall"
sudo plait --uninstall
to uninstall Plait. See the instructions that came with gen_com if
you want to remove that plugin. To remove wget, gawk or findutils,
follow the package removal technique for Cygwin or Fink, as
appropriate. If you are updating Plait, and you decide to install it
into a different directory this time, uninstall the old version before
installing the new one. Otherwise two versions of Plait will be
installed and you can't be sure which one will run.
There are a few changes you can make to ~/.plait/config to customize
the behavior of Plait.
#### File types
By default Plait looks for files of type mp3, wav, aif, ogg and flac.
You can change this by setting the variable TYPES, for example:
TYPES=".ogg .mp3 .flac"
You may need to run `plait --cache` to rebuild the cache after
changing the file types.
As of Plait 1.2, you are advised to set the variable TYPES once to a
very broad set of file types, and then use target devices to customize
your playlists for different devices. You can either redefine one of
the built-in target devices, or define a new one. For example, to
define a target device that supports the same file types as an iPod,
add the following line to the config file:
ipod="m4a M4A mp3 MP3 wav WAV"
In contrast to the TYPES variable, with devices you don't include the
dot in the file extension, and you must repeat each extension twice,
in upper and lower case. In this list, order is important; thus the
ipod device will prefer mp3 files to wav files.
To use this device to build a playlist, select it on the command line:
plait britney --device ipod
You can also set the default device in the config file:
Important note: if you redefine the default device (hifi), you should
then reassign DEVICE to it in the config file, ie:
hifi="wav WAV flac FLAC"
Otherwise DEVICE will continue to have the old value of hifi from
before it was redefined.
#### Alternate players
Although there is a default player on each operating system, some OSs
support several players. You can pick something besides the default
by setting the variable PLATFORM, for example:
The currently supported platforms are: cygwin-winamp, cygwin-itunes,
osx-itunes, linux-xmms, linux-beep-media-player, linux-amarok,
linux-mpg123, linux-mpg123-esd, linux-mpg321, linux-mpg321-esd,
linux-ogg123, linux-ogg123-esd, linux-plaiter, any-xspf and
any-xspf-copy. In the interest of accuracy, there are also "unix-"
synonyms for all the "linux-" players. The "esd" platforms play via
the Enlightened Sound Daemon, which can stream audio across the
network to an esd server. You specify which server by setting
ESPEAKER, for example:
See README.plaiter for information on Plaiter, which is the ideal
platform choice if you currently use a command line player like
11. XSPF Playlists
Plait can generate a complete web site with an embedded MP3 playlist,
including an XSPF playlist, a web page that embeds the XSPF Web Music
Player (http://musicplayer.sourceforge.net), and MP3 files.
The steps are as follows:
1. Download and unpack the web music player from the site above. Copy
the file xspf_player.swf to ~/.plait/xspf.
2. Customize the file /usr/share/plait/playlist.html, if you like. It
is a template file in which the special text string "%TITLE%" will
be replaced by the playlist title generated automatically by Plait.
3. Set the variable BASEURL appropriately in the config file (see
below). You may also need to set the variables ARTISTIDX,
ALBUMIDX, and SONGIDX. See the section on installation.
4. Run an appropriate Plait command to generate a playlist (see
5. Upload the directory ~/.plait/xspf to a new directory on your web
6. Test the playlist by loading the file playlist.html from the upload
directory into your browser.
The Plait command you run depends on where your music library is
located: if it is located on your web server where MP3 files can be
loaded via a URL, the MP3s can be accessed in place. In this case,
set the variable BASEURL in the Plait config file to the base address
of your MP3 directory, for example
Then generate a playlist with a command like the following:
plait "Dire Straits" --tracks 7 --platform any-xspf --device compact --coverart 1
and upload the directory ~/.plait/xspf to your web server. The flag
"--coverart 1" is optional and causes Plait to look up album cover art
on Amazon. You can turn this feature on permanently by setting
in the config file (in which case you can turn it off temporarily with
the flag "--coverart 0").
If your music library is not on a web server, you will need to upload
the MP3 files in the playlist to your server as well. In that case,
leave BASEURL set to the empty string. Then generate a playlist with
a command like the following:
plait "Dire Straits" --tracks 7 --platform any-xspf-copy --device compact
This form of the command actually copies MP3 files into the directory
~/.plait/xspf, which you then upload. You may want to clean old MP3
files out of this directory periodically to avoid unnecessary
Of course, you can always pick and choose which files to upload
depending upon your application. The file playlist.html can be used
as an example if you prefer to embed the playlist in a preexisting web
Plait does a poor job of handling file names with various accent
characters. iTunes refuses to play these files at all, because
Applescript can't translate them into Macintosh file paths. On other
platforms you should be able to play these files, but it is still
difficult to search for them, because Plait doesn't know how to ignore
accent marks when making string comparisons. The problem does not
just involve comparing characters that could be considered equivalent
in the current locale, which would be resolved by equivalence classes;
here the problem is to compare characters which could be considered
equivalent in any locale. There is a version of `agrep` for OS/2 and
Windows which can do this type of accent-insensitive comparison, so if
you are interested in this problem, bug the authors of `agrep` about
back-porting this feature to UNIX.
13. What's next
Copyright (c) 2005-2008 by Stephen Jungels