Goodbye, QuickTime

May 2021

QuickTime, the Mac media framework, has always been crucial to Yasla. Apple’s decision to discontinue QuickTime was decisive for the development of Yasla Pro / Lab. This is the story behind it.

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In 2007, when the development of Yasla began, Macs with PowerPC processors were still commonplace, and QuickTime was responsible for recording and playing back video and audio in Mac OS X. But in fact, QuickTime could do much more: among other things, it also integrated text-based media, and provided a file format, MOV, that could store the various media together.

For Yasla, QuickTime was the key building block. Only because of all the things it provided to applications, Yasla’s development was possible within the given timeframe of about one year and the budget available.

While Yasla received new features and improvements with many updates in the following years and matured increasingly, Apple was occupied primarily with the iPhone and iOS and neglected macOS X and QuickTime noticeably.
After some back and forth, it became clear that QuickTime had no future, and instead, audio/video playback from iOS would move into MacOS X macOS. This finally became official with macOS 10.15, in which QuickTime is no longer present.

From Yasla’s point of view, this was decidedly dramatic, as the new system lacked important elements such as text tracks, nor could they be easily added. This left only the choice to either discontinue Yasla together with QuickTime or to rewrite most parts of Yasla, replacing large and central areas of functionality that had previously come from QuickTime with its own implementations.

After five years of development, the results are Yasla Pro (for single workstations) and Yasla Lab (for laboratory use). These successors of the classic Yasla work completely without QuickTime, are fully 64-bit and run natively on the new ‘Apple Silicon’ Macs. The replacement of QuickTime enables new functions like scrolling text tracks, which could not be realized with QuickTime. And with the new audio/video playback macOS finally making better use of modern hardware, it is now possible to work with HD video in Yasla.

Noteworthily Yasla 2 also benefited from the Yasla Pro/Lab development: The decline of QuickTime with increasing numbers of bugs long before its official end made it necessary to replace functionality formerly provided by QuickTime in Yasla 2 too. Components originally developed for Yasla Pro/Lab are therefore now also at work in the still available versions of Yasla 2.

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Unfortunately, Yasla Pro/Lab cannot, like the updates in the past 14 years, be provided free of charge - the time and effort for the rewrite, ultimately forced by Apple, were too big for that.
To sweeten the transition a bit, Yasla Pro/Lab also got a modernized user interface and, as already mentioned, some features that have been long on the wishlist. And since QuickTime is not the only thing that has been neglected by Apple, a Yasla language lab can now for the first time be operated meaningfully without a (MacOS X) server.

Switching from Yasla 2.x to Yasla Pro/Lab is not mandatory: Yasla 2.x works as usual up to and including macOS 14, and usually Apple provides (security) updates for older systems for a while. In addition, Yasla Pro/Lab and Yasla 2.x can open the files of the respective other programs (in Yasla 2 with a few limitations on functions that only exist in Yasla Pro/Lab), which allows mixed operation with Macs that require macOS 10.15 or newer.

With the new ‘Apple Silicon’ Macs, which are already fully supported by Yasla Pro/Lab, the time of the big shake-ups should be over for the time being, and Yasla ready for many years of further successful operation - on the third processor architecture, and more than ten major macOS versions.