RealNetworks puts more Helix code online

RealNetworks on Monday delivered another component in its strategy to offer a complete set of open source software for creating, delivering and playing back audio and video files over the Internet.

The company made available the source code for Helix DNA Producer, a digital media encoder that is part of its overarching Helix DNA Platform announced in July. Using the source code, developers can build software used to compress audio and video files so they can be delivered over the Web and played back on a computing device, said Kevin Foreman, general manager of RealNetworks' Helix effort.

RealNetworks envisions multiple uses for the technology. For example, developers could use the source code to build a Web cam that captures video of highway traffic, compresses it on the fly and delivers it to a Web site. It could also be used to build content authoring software similar to Adobe Systems Inc.'s Premiere digital video editing software.

Initially, Helix DNA Producer will allow content to be encoded in RealNetworks' audio and video file formats, in addition to an open-source file format called Ogg Vorbis. RealNetworks said it plans to deliver support for the popular MP3 file format early next year.

"We expect that there will be other formats that the community will add over time," Foreman said.

In late October, RealNetworks released source code for the first Helix DNA component, a media player that can be installed on PCs running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, as well as versions of Linux and Apple Computer Inc.'s Mac OS X operating system.

Community projects are under way to use that code for building media players that can be installed on handheld devices running the Palm, Pocket PC and Symbian operating systems, Foreman said.

"There's a lot of activity on PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and cell phones on the client side," he said.

More than 5,000 developers have joined the Helix DNA community, according to RealNetworks, up from 2,000 in late October.

Helix DNA Producer will be available initially for the Windows and Linux operating systems. A version of the encoder for Mac OS X is in the early stages of development; a release date has not yet been set, Foreman said.

Helix DNA Producer will be licensed under both an open source and a commercial community source license. Developers will have free access to the code under both licenses, Foreman said. The Helix media player is governed under the same licenses, although developers have to pay royalties to widely distribute media players developed using the code.

The Seattle, Washington, company is betting on the open-source development model to establish its media formats and related technology as de facto standards for streaming and playing back media on PCs and other devices. RealNetworks competes against Microsoft and Apple, who also make media players and server technology based on their respective file formats.

The Helix DNA Producer source code was made available Monday through the Helix developer community Web site, at www.helixcommunity.org. Source code for a Helix media server is expected to be released in the coming weeks, the company said.

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Matt Berger

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