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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

hwado's Musician vs my Mugician

"WTF is this?" - A quote from somebody that helped work on Mugician with me, after seeing this image on his iPad.

I made Mugician open source a few weeks ago. I got asked by a lot of people to add features that I didn't want, so I figured that making the project open source was a reasonable thing to do. So I put it here.


In the README file that shows up on this page, it merely states some simple conditions in the license. They are all aimed at just making sure that I don't end up getting emails about the Malware version of Mugician, or confusing my users.

If you buy "Musician" just note that it's a blind re-compile of the Mugician project in its latest state, with a few bug fixes that are not yet in the official Mugician, and a stupid splash screen banner added.

I really dislike this sort of developer, and these guys were the only thing that gave me pause to making Mugician open source. But whatever, some developer that wants to really add something, like make an ergonomically workable iPhone Mugician or add MIDI support... be my guest. Just credit the project, and I will endorse your work enthusiastically, and ask you to submit your changes into a branch. If I trust you enough, I will write an exception to the request to submit changes into a branch that I can compile too.

Pythagoras won't be open source because of this sort of thing though. It would be a better candidate because the source is smaller and cleaner, and there is a good possibility of the whole sound engine being in libpd. I might have to share it on a peer-to-peer basis with specific collaborators just to shut out the compiletards that just take people's stuff and try to re-brand it as their own.

If you don't understand why that irritates me about a free app, keep in mind that I am not the only person that sunk time into Mugician's design. Jordan Rudess is an example of somebody who spent time on it. Hiding "Musician"'s origins as "Mugician" hides the credit that Jordan Rudess deserves. In this case, calling it "Musician" is clearly an attempt to confuse my users as well. I just did a gig with Mugician the other night, and I am sure that people will be sending email to HWADO thinking that it's me, and that I don't respond to emails.

It hides the credit to all of my many testers, and people who got up on stage and risked their gig with my instrument.

I hope that Apple tires of these sorts of developers and starts revoking their certificates en-masse. There is always talk about it, and at some point Apple will have to step in and do it. hwado's business will be gone overnight when it does. Apple even noted quite explicitly in the developers agreement that they don't need more fart apps, so they don't just blindly allow junk because it's not violating an explicit rule. Musician is a good app because it's Mugician, but it's definitely an underhanded way to avoid the obligation to contribute something or to write your own code.

Note that I wrote the license myself in plain english, and I did not pick some legally binding GPL. The reality is that the legal mumbo-jumbo is unreadable because it's not really in English, and it only works in the case of enforcing it against a large company - but that would still require lawyers to challenge it anyway. So I am relying on people to simply point out what these people are doing in the app comments.

Maybe "Musician" will be a runaway hit for some strange reason. I guess that's ok as long as everybody follows links back to Mugician to see who actually did the work on it, because it still validates what I am trying to do. My main concern is that I never want to have to deal with a malware version of my app floating around, especially one that *does* credit Mugician.


  1. Man, that just outright sucks! And there's no way to leave a bad review unless you BUY the thing...

    Sorry, mate, sorry to see someone rip off your really great instrument. :-(

  2. Pythagoras will probably end up being a better instrument. I got a lot of email from people who may have already left lots of nasty comments. What they are doing would be just fine if they would credit Mugician like they were asked. I know it's hard to sell a paid version of something that's free, but that's the whole point of it. Contribute something original, and you can sell your version of the app with my enthusiastic support.

  3. Greed and idiocy plain and simple. I never write reviews, but I will make sure leave comments in this rip off. Open source is so important in a wide variety of endeavors right now. Did you consider a Creative Commons license?

  4. Hi Roger! I left a comment stating exactly what I think in his app -- with 5 stars -- because it's still Mugician in any case.

    The reality is that if you allow the source to be seen, that no license is enforceable in a practical sense. If I make the terms very strict, then the developer will simply change just enough to evade giving credit. It is only worth the trouble to pursue a GPL violator if this violator has deep pockets, and not worth my time to hire a lawyer to prevent dubious branches of a free project.

    That being said, I can use his idiocy for my own ends a little bit. His build contains myunsubmitted bug fixes that my good friend who wrote iTablaPro made to the Mugician source code. If hwado credits the Mugician project as he is supposed to and follows the terms of the license on future submissions then I will entertain him as I would any other fork of this project.

  5. Guys, I just thought of something. This is a actually a truly *useful* development. The only way to get an app at the very front of the store is to submit a "new" app, like he did. People are following my lead and posting 5 star comments that ironically state "don't buy this because it's just Mugician, which is free!". Give "Musician" the exact same rating that you would give "Mugician" and say what you think about Mugician ... which in my case is 5 stars. ;-)

    So good enough... we have something on the first few pages that points to Mugician from what amount to fan and user testimonials. This is good because people are far less likely to give low ratings to things that they buy, because they actually think about whether they will use it before they bother to buy it; which is totally not the case with free apps. Mugician instantly lost 1 whole star when it went free due to this phenomenon.

    People start seeing this instrument layout everywhere and learn it. That is what matters. Who cares if it's from hwado. If he never adds any good features of his own, not enough people will be suckered into buying what is already free. Everybody knows that they aren't supporting the development of anything when they buy his version. A few people will buy it to leave a good comment about Mugician, but that's not a problem.

    Maybe the number of comments is exactly his number of sales. You can't miss that Mugician is what people are using in the real-world, and that this is where the re-integration of the new ideas will have to go.

    Then when I finally got Pythagoras ready and in the store (I don't know when!), then people will recognize Pythagoras for what it is because they all played a Mugician variant. Pythagoras will be different enough because it is a rethink of some of the finer details that a minor tweak would never change.

  6. The naktl comment is me. I looked at his other apps. They seem to be of tow sorts. So e rudimentary things he may have coded and rip offs of free or cheap apps that he just barely tweaks, renames and then raises the price on. I did not want to buy them to see for sure and have not checked about the status of the code on what seem to be the originals. I think his app Velo is another example. Your thinking seems right to me in any case.

  7. What an amazing jerk. I still spend more time on mugician than any other app (unless you count safari and YouTube.)

  8. "Musician" hit #73 for paid apps for a day, when it was at the front page of the new apps. It quickly disappeared from the rankings after a few comments were posted.

    We forced the credits in for him ourselves, so there's no reason to keep kicking him any more. I just hope that anybody thinking about doing this at least takes the time to put something more useful than his company logo into it.

    I can't test an iPhone version, but was told that it works well on iPhone if you flip the switch to allow it, but it crashes in the simulator, so I can't submit to Apple because it will be very much untested by me. Some people want a MIDI version in Mugician rather than just putting that functionality into a new instrument with a similar layout. I say let them try... I suspect that the result will have the same fate as expressionPad, which is why I haven't done it in the official branch.