Since so much of my days involve pressing against intransigent data problems under they (or i) yield, i love it when things “just work”. I had such an experience a few months back with Audacity, an open-source audio recorder/editor. So i want to give a little back to the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement with some well-deserved praise.

I’ve used Audacity before for some home recording projects, and it’s one of the most popular projects on SourceForge, so nobody who knows about it is likely to be surprised. My task this time was to find a way to convert more than 6000 audio files in WAV format to MP3 (so they take less space: if you’re a Logos customer, you’ll be hearing more about these — literally — in a future update). I really did not want to do

  1. open file
  2. select export
  3. fiddle with parameters
  4. open save dialog
  5. pick a filename
  6. hit save

times 6000!

A quick Google showed that the current Audacity beta provides a batch processing feature. I downloaded it without a hitch. The download page helpfully pointed out i also needed to get an MP3 encoder library (which i remembered from a previous install): also no problems.

First hitch: the documentation here is a little off, there is no Batch tab on the Preferences dialog. Another 60 seconds of search on the Wiki site found this page with the correct information: you do File > Edit Chains to set up the processing sequence, and then Apply Chain to apply it.

I tried a few files, seemed to work okay. When i audaciously tried to do all 6667 files in one go, there was some problem (but that really seemed like too big a bite anyway). So i backed off to groups of a thousand or so. I hadn’t even noticed there were some non-audio files in the directory: Audacity understandably barfed on these, and i had to restart the process after their failures. There were a few other glitches with temp files that couldn’t be saved, but i just kept restarting things.

Was it perfect? No. But come on … conversion of 6000 files took maybe an hour, and cost me nothing. How can you not like that?