TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Recommending QuickTime Programming Books

Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 3
Column Tag: Programming

QuickTime Toolkit

by Tim Monroe

The Incredibles

Recommending QuickTime Programming Books

One of the first questions that new QuickTime programmers ask -- or should ask -- is this: "Where do I get started?" Usually this means: "Where can I find some good documentation on programming QuickTime?"

Introduction

One of the first questions that new QuickTime programmers ask -- or should ask -- is this: "Where do I get started?" Usually this means: "Where can I find some good documentation on programming QuickTime?" Almost without exception, the most up-to-date and most authoritative information is to be found on the QuickTime developer web pages, starting at http://developer.apple.com/quicktime. That page contains links to the latest on-line documentation, sample code, technical notes, and related materials such as QuickTime tools and information about the Apple-sponsored user- and API-level mailing lists.

The documentation links can be particularly daunting for newbies, however. There are links to over fifty separate documents (available in both HTML and PDF formats), which range from introductory overviews to highly-specific discussions of each major area of QuickTime programming, including sprites, movie importers and exporters, QuickTime VR, movie capture and compression, and so forth. There are also documents that assist in developing QuickTime applications in Cocoa or on Windows. So where should we begin if we want to write an image capture application in Cocoa? With the capture documentation? With the introductory documents? With the Cocoa documentation? Or suppose we wanted to write the application in Java instead; is there a good tutorial on capturing sound and video data using QuickTime for Java?

I dunno; or rather, I didn'tno until I got ahold of a copy of a new book in the O'Reilly Developer's Notebook series, QuickTime for Java(TM): A Developer's Notebook by Chris Adamson. In that book, Chris shows how to develop a Java application that captures video and sound data from, for example, an iSight camera. What's amazing about this is that Apple has explicitly claimed not to support sequence grabbing in QuickTime for Java versions 6.1 and later (while tantalizing us with the suggestion that "it may be provided in future releases"). Chris figured out the magic necessary to get things to work and delivers a working Java-based capture tool. Very nice. What's even nicer is that the entire book is a thoroughly readable tutorial on using Java to develop QuickTime applications.

The excellence of Chris' book set me to thinking about the general state of QuickTime programming books. If our imagined newbie wanted some recommendations on paper-and-glue books to hold in her hands and peruse from the safety of her armchair, what could we offer? In this article, I want to recommend five books on QuickTime and QuickTime applications development. Weighing in at more than 2600 pages total, I doubt that even the most persistent newbie would slog though them all before launching into a programming project. But, in my opinion, these are some of the best sources of information available to QuickTime programmers today.

Disclaimer: I wrote two of these books, and I assisted in reviewing several others. I know all the authors personally, and I have the greatest respect for each of them. However, I have no financial stake in any of these publications. You can purchase a zillion copies of each of these books without fear that you are contributing to my retirement fund.

QuickTime for the Web

QuickTime for the Web by Steven Gulie is easily the most misnamed book in this bunch (or in just about any other bunch). From the sound of the title, you might think that it was aimed at Internet-savvy webmeisters looking to optimize delivery of their web-based QuickTime movies. Indeed, the subtitle of the first edition was "A Hands-On Guide for Webmasters, Site Designers, and HTML Authors". Thankfully, the publisher dropped that subtitle in following editions. This book, though it does of course discuss issues involved with deploying QuickTime content on the web, is much more general and useful. It is, quite simply, the best available introduction to QuickTime as a multimedia technology. It explains in great detail the many, varied parts of the QuickTime architecture, from video and sound to QuickTime VR to sprites and wired actions. To SMIL. To Flash. To still images. To text movies. And beyond.


QuickTime for the Web

Now, this is not primarily a programming book. It does at one point show how to use JavaScript to control QuickTime movies playing back in a browser window, but it's not by any means an API-level investigation of QuickTime. So why am I recommending it to our newbie QuickTime programmer? Simply because a thorough understanding of the QuickTime architecture is essential for making intelligent decisions about the design and implementation of QuickTime applications. Time and again I have seen developers (and not just rank newbies) overlook easy solutions that would have been more obvious had they had a broader view of the scope of QuickTime and QuickTime movies. Steve's book provides that broad view and deserves to be the first stop on any prospective QuickTime programmer's reading list.

QuickTime Toolkit

The two QuickTime Toolkit books, which I wrote, grew out of articles that appeared in MacTech magazine from 2000 to 2003. In fact, this series of articles was originally planned precisely to allow the easy transition from magazine to book form. Those books present, in my opinion, the most complete and most accessible general introduction to QuickTime programming that is available today. They also contain a fair amount of previously undocumented material that has come in handy over the years.


QuickTime Toolkit, Volume One

The first book, QuickTime Toolkit, Volume One: Basic Movie Playback and Media Types, begins by showing how to use QuickTime functions to open and display a movie in a window on the screen. It also shows how to perform basic editing operations on a movie and how to save an edited movie into a file. This book then shows how to work with a variety of media types, including video, still images, text, timecode, and sprites. It introduces concepts that are fundamental to QuickTime programming: movies, tracks, media, time scales, track references, atoms, atom containers, data references, media samples, sample descriptions, and a host of others. This first book ends with an in-depth look at one of the cornerstones of QuickTime interactivity: wired actions and wired sprites.


QuickTime Toolkit, Volume Two

The second book in this series, QuickTime Toolkit, Volume Two: Advanced Movie Playback and Media Types, continues this journey by looking at a handful of the more advanced media types supported by QuickTime: video effects, skins, Flash, and QuickTime VR. It shows how to capture movies from sound and video input sources, broadcast movies to the Internet or a LAN, play movies full screen, and load movies asynchronously. Together, these two books present a detailed narrative that covers a substantial amount of what's involved in QuickTime application programming on both Macintosh and Windows computers.

Both of these books present example code using the C programming language and reflect what we now call the "Carbon" programming model. If you are programming in REALbasic, or Revolution, or Java, or Cocoa, or any other non-C language, then you'll need to look elsewhere for introductory material geared to developing QuickTime applications in your particular development environment. However, chances are that the basic algorithms presented in these books can be transferred fairly easily to other languages. More than once, for instance, I've taken code from these books and reworked it to run in a Cocoa application. And, of course, over the past year and a half, we've had the opportunity to play with a number of these alternative development languages and tools in this column in MacTech.

Interactive QuickTime

Matthew Peterson is a recognized master of QuickTime's interactive capabilities -- particularly of wired sprites and wired actions. I've seen audiences in awe over the amazing things he has done building intelligent, active QuickTime movies. Movies that read data off a remote server and chart graphs in real time. Movies that look and act like a pocket calculator. Movies that track the mouse and alter the appearance and location of objects in the movie based on mouse movements. Movies that simply knock your socks off, no matter how long you've worked with QuickTime.


Interactive QuickTime

Interactive QuickTime is Matthew's eagerly-awaited explanation of how he does some of those amazing things. He guides us deftly through QuickTime's interactive landscape, discussing how to add dynamic, active behaviors to sprites, video, text tracks, Flash, QuickTime VR, and movie tracks. He also covers the much-neglected topic of communicating with servers using QTLists. This book is chock-full of useful algorithms and interesting approaches to programming interactive behaviors in QuickTime movies.

The examples in this book are almost exclusively presented in QScript, a scripting language supported by the LiveStage Pro application. To get the most out of this book, therefore, you need to have that tool available, and indeed the CD included with the book provides a demo version of LiveStage Pro. I can attest from long experience that building interactive movie using raw C code can be a painful process. Nonetheless, the algorithms themselves are clear enough that you could easily reimplement them in C or any other high-level language.

QuickTime for Java(TM): A Developer's Notebook

I know what you are thinking: "I don't do Java; I have no interest in doing Java; so this book is not for me." Fair enough. At least let me say this: if you do program in Java and you are interested in developing QuickTime applications, then QuickTime for Java(TM): A Developer's Notebook by Chris Adamson (O'Reilly, 2005) should be on your bookshelf. Better yet, it should be propped open on your desk as you work your way though it. We've already seen hints of the kind of careful analysis Chris brings to the table in his ability to get QuickTime for Java applications to capture video and audio sources. He shows that same insight throughout this slim volume, demonstrating how to open and display still images and QuickTime movies, support movie editing and undo operations, export movies and still images, build movies from raw data, and work with the QuickTime video effects architecture. All in Java, and all skillfully integrated with the major Java windowing toolkits, AWT and Swing.


QuickTime For Java

Actually, however, I dispute the idea that this is a book exclusively for Java developers. In several instances, Chris trots out some code that, mutatis mutandis, could easily be useful to C programmers. In particular, he presents a careful dissection of the format of the metadata attached to iTunes AAC files and shows how to construct a set of Java classes for reading and displaying the author, title, and album information (among other kinds). I imagine it would be easy to reimplement his algorithm in C and hence make it more widely available.

I do have one quibble with this book. This isn't your typical O'Reilly book: there's no animal on the cover and the editorial direction is much more focused. These Developer's Notebooks are supposed to harness "the often-frantic scribbling and notes that a true-blue alpha geek mentally makes when working with a new language, API, or project." The book design reflects this "lab manual" approach: the pages have a graph-paper ruled background and the cover shows the stains of a coffee mug. That's all well and good. But the book is printed with a bluish-purplish ink that is particularly unwelcome for the screen shots and other graphics. The text is perfectly legible, to be sure, but the images just look odd. It would have been less jarring to stick with black ink, I think.

Book Information

Books in the Morgan-Kaufmann QuickTime Developer Series:

QuickTime for the Web, by Steven Gulie. Morgan-Kaufmann (Third Edition, July 2003). 825 pages. ISBN: 1-55860-904-0.

QuickTime Toolkit, Volume One: Basic Movie Playback and Media Types, by Tim Monroe. Morgan-Kaufmann (First Edition, June 2004). 640 pages. ISBN: 0-12-088401-1.

QuickTime Toolkit, Volume Two: Advanced Movie Playback and Media Types, by Tim Monroe. Morgan-Kaufmann (First Edition, June 2004). 528 pages. ISBN: 0-12-088402-X.

Interactive QuickTime, by Matthew Peterson. Morgan-Kaufmann (First Edition, August 2003). 597 pages. ISBN: 1-55860-746-3.

Books in the O'Reilly Developer's Notebooks series:

QuickTime for Java, by Chris Adamson. O'Reilly (First Edition, January 2005). 255 pages. ISBN: 0-596-00822-8.


Tim Monroe is a member of the QuickTime engineering team at Apple. You can contact him at monroe@mactech.com. The views expressed here are not necessarily shared by his employer.

 
AAPL
$109.41
Apple Inc.
+2.67
MSFT
$45.74
Microsoft Corpora
+0.58
GOOG
$504.89
Google Inc.
+9.50

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Command-C 1.1.7 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Tidy Up 4.0.2 - Find duplicate files and...
Tidy Up is a complete duplicate finder and disk-tidiness utility. With Tidy Up you can search for duplicate files and packages by the owner application, content, type, creator, extension, time... Read more
Typinator 6.3 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more
GraphicConverter 9.5 - Graphics editor w...
GraphicConverter is an all-purpose image-editing program that can import 200 different graphic-based formats, edit the image, and export it to any of 80 available file formats. The high-end editing... Read more
Toast Titanium 12.0.1 - The ultimate med...
Toast Titanium goes way beyond the very basic burning in the Mac OS and iLife software, and sets the standard for burning CDs, DVDs, and now Blu-ray discs on the Mac. Create superior sounding audio... Read more
QuickBooks 2015 16.0.2.1422 R3 - Financi...
Save 20% on QuickBooks Pro for Mac today through this special discount link QuickBooks Pro 2013 helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track... Read more
Remotix 3.0.6 - Access all your computer...
Remotix is a fast and powerful application to easily access multiple Macs (and PCs) from your own Mac. Features: Complete Apple Screen Sharing support - including Mac OS X login, clipboard... Read more
BetterZip Quick Look Generator 1.5 - Let...
BetterZip Quick Look Generator lets you view the contents of compressed archives through OS X's Quick Look functions. Simply select an archive in the Finder, in Mail, or Spotlight and press the... Read more
Sandvox 2.9.3 - Easily build eye-catchin...
Sandvox is for Mac users who want to create a professional looking website quickly and easily. With Sandvox, you don't need to be a Web genius to build a stylish, feature-rich, standards-compliant... Read more
Pixelmator 3.3.1 - Powerful layer-based...
Pixelmator is a beautifully designed, easy-to-use, fast, and powerful image editor for OS X. It has everything you need to create, edit, and enhance your images. Pixelmator is a layer-based image... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Pentaction: Medieval (Games)
Pentaction: Medieval 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Pentaction: Medieval is a turn-based strategy board-game about chance and skill on the battlefield. Take control of your... | Read more »
Hipstify Review
Hipstify Review By Jennifer Allen on December 17th, 2014 Our Rating: :: COOL FILTERSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Add filters, quotes, and fancy frames to your images, thanks to Hipstify.   | Read more »
Mighty Smighties Gets Evolve Cards and N...
Mighty Smighties Gets Evolve Cards and New Worlds Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 17th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Duckie Deck Card Wars Review
Duckie Deck Card Wars Review By Amy Solomon on December 17th, 2014 Our Rating: :: STYLISH GAME OF CARDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Duckie Deck Card Wars adapts the classic card game War for use on devices, complete... | Read more »
PDF Office Review
PDF Office Review By Jennifer Allen on December 17th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CONVENIENT PDF EDITINGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Want to create your own PDF files? Import them from elsewhere? Adapt a web page into a PDF? PDF... | Read more »
The Out There: Ω Edition Update will be...
The Out There: Ω Edition Update will be Releasing in 2015, Bringing Better Graphics and Additional Content Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 17th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Pinball Planet Pro (Games)
Pinball Planet Pro 1.02 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.02 (iTunes) Description: - Our missionWe've always loved to play pinball games but we noticed most modern pinball games are simulators for the... | Read more »
Ultrakam 4k. The Professional Camera App...
Ultrakam 4k. The Professional Camera App. 3.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $9.99, Version: 3.0 (iTunes) Description: In March 2014, Ultrakam brought Film Resolution for iPhone for the first time ever and now is... | Read more »
Email+ (Business)
Email+ 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Business Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Send email, fast! | Read more »
Mayor it up in SimCity BuildIt, Out Now
Mayor it up in SimCity BuildIt, Out Now Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 16th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Holiday sales continue: MacBook Pros for up t...
 B&H Photo has new MacBook Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP as part of their Holiday pricing. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1699... Read more
Google Search App For iOS Gets A Major Makeov...
Google has given iOS users an early Christmas present with a substantial update of it’s not-very-often-upgraded Google Search app. Google Search has been my go-to tool for Web searches since it was... Read more
ShopKeep Apple Pay And Chip Card Reader Avail...
ShopKeep, a cloud-based technology provider to more than 10,000 small business owners to manage retail shops and restaurants with iPads, has released its new Apple Pay and chip card reader. This... Read more
Holiday sale! 27-inch 5K iMac for $2299, save...
 B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for... Read more
Holiday Sale! 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro availa...
 B&H Photo has the 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro on sale for $2599 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $400 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from any... Read more
iPhone 6 Number 3 Canadian Google Search Of 2...
CTVNews.ca reports that Apple’s iPhone 6 was the third highest-trending Google Canada search topic of 2014, exceeded only by Robin Williams largely after his death by suicide in August, and the FIFA... Read more
New iPad mini 3 Counter-Top & Wall Mount...
newMacgadgets has announced new secure all-acrylic displays for the iPad mini 3 (also works fine with the mini 2, last year’s iPad mini With Retina Display, and the original iPad mini). The new iPad... Read more
Holiday sales continue, MacBook Airs for up t...
B&H Photo has 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, for a limited time, for the Thanksgiving/Christmas Holiday shopping season. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax... Read more
B&H lowers price on 27-inch 3.2GHz iMac t...
B&H Photo has lowered their price on the 27″ 3.2GHz iMac, now on sale for $1629 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $170 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
B&H Photo has lowered their price on leftover 2013 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros to $1499 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $500 off original MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.