Music players and tag case sensitivity

Rant mode on.

There's a time and a place for case sensitivity. Music players aren't it.

Rewind: case sensitivity is where two items of text are only treated as equal if both the characters and the case of the characters are the same. If we have two pieces of text: "Blinking Lights and Other Revelations" and "Blinking Lights And Other Revelations" they are equals in terms of the characters, but not the case. Therefore they are not equal when taking into regard case sensitivity.

In most cases, when organising a music library, case sensitivity should not be important (with one big exception detailed below). However, this is what happens when you have a case sensitive display in Squeezebox:

Case sensitive genres in Squeezebox

(Ok, so there's also some differences in hyphen usage there, but the point is made in two places.)

The underlying problem here is not Squeezebox; fundamentally, these tags are inconsistent. Therefore they would benefit from a run through bliss's case rules.

But still, in the interests of user experience, would it be too much to ask for some common sense?

Humans generally don't attach semantics to case and in this case will not differentiate between genres just because they are different case. To a human, "Acid Jazz" is no different to "Acid jazz".

It seems pretty straightforward to, by default, group these genres, although it would take some confidence on the part of the music software programmer. They would have to decide which case rule should be applied by default, and then potentially make the choice with different case rules, or no case rules and apply case sensitivity, available as an option.

I should finish by outlining the big exception here: folder and file names. Windows and Mac OS X (by default) are case insensitive, but Linux is case sensitive. Linux and other *nix derived operating systems are also used as the basis for a number of music servers and NAS devices, which means even if you are a Windows or OS X user it is still worth bearing in mind this detail.

For that reason, when considering folder and file names, you should consider case sensitivity.

Thanks to suneko for the image above.
tags: metadata
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The Music Library Management blog

Dan Gravell

I'm Dan, the founder and programmer of bliss. I write bliss to solve my own problems with my digital music collection.