Folder Browsing Problem Solving - Not a Debate Thread!

Fellow Roon community members (and the Roon team, at your discretion) - instead of debating the merits of adding folder browsing into the Roon UI, it’s been suggested (in just such a debate thread) that it might be helpful to compile the challenges that folder browsing might have helped resolve, but potentially could be resolved another way.

The goal would be to identify for the Roon team those challenges; see if there is a feature or modification to address these needs and stay within Roon’s ethos of object based browsing and aversion to folders.

Reference this topic:

And here’s the current list of items that I recall being posted as reasons for the need for folder browsing. Feel free to add your own - I will try to keep the master list updated as long as you can keep your needs to a few words that fit in a list:

—List view for quick scanning and scrolling
—Box set handling
—To navigate a user defined organizational structure
------Example: nested views
—To be able to play files not within the library
—Trouble shooting “why isn’t this album showing up in Roon?”
—Challenges handling classical
—DJ playlists / electronic dance
—New user transitions into Roon
—Trouble-shooting corrupt file designations by Roon

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I’ll talk about the interesting cases where I believe Roon doesn’t have tools in a later post, but in this post I will mention one of three tools that Roon currently has which can assist with some the above.

Focus/Inspector/Storage Location.
This focuses on top level folders which have been designated as storage locations in Roon. You can then bookmark such a location.

I use this to play music on a USB that a friend might give me through Roon as follows:

Create a desktop folder on a computer, preferably the Core. In this example I call it Temp.

Copy USB to Temp
Designate Temp as a Storage Location in Roon.
Focus/Inspector/Storage Location/Temp.
Bookmark as Temp (or whatever).

If you create the desktop folder on a computer which is not the Core, then you will have to share it over the network to add it as a Roon Storage Lcation.

The other tools are Tags and the file tags ROONALBUMTAG and ROONTRACKTAG. These file tags were added as a result of a Feature Request by @evand. More about them in a later post.

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The kb states: “Roon’s Tags feature was designed to be fast, easy, and endlessly flexible”.

I definitely wouldn’t call it “fast”. Tags don’t enjoy first class citizenship in Roon’s architecture. They should, but they don’t and as a result performance leaves a lot to be desired.

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I will say that with over 6200 albums & almost 77000 tracks in my local library, (& no doubt others have way more than me), there are certainly times when Roon is way too clunky to find an album (not individual track), where I can’t quite get a handle on what it is and what genre it could possibly be hiding under.

With 1000s of cd’s & albums, I’d go up to my rack based on genre & in alphabetical order and relatively quickly find what I’d ‘lost’. I usually look for albums, but if I was the kind of person who regularly searched for individual tracks, I’m not sure how I’d go about it.

Yup a list view (somewhere/somehow), I think is mandatory for quick navigation for those times when the current system proves way too slow or simply unhelpful.

In terms of trouble shooting there’s the ‘skipped file’ that can be viewed under settings, beyond that I’m not sure what would be needed. Usually, it’s a corrupt file, image or music format not recognised. Whether Roon can be relied upon here I’m not sure as some may say, “I can play that file” in this other piece of software.

Right…keeping my words to ‘few’ as per request of OP. :smiley:

As a vocal user re Box Sets I will comment . My experience is primarily with Classical sets and some Rock sets.

Box Sets come in many shapes and sizes , the differences may require a differing approach

They include…

  1. Box sets comprising a collection of previously released albums (typical of Rock compilations)
  2. Box Sets comprising of a Random collection of works based on no previously release albums (eg The Mozart 255 , Beethoven 2020 DG Releases.) All tracks are previously released but not in this CD format
  3. Somewhere in between these 2 extremes. Often old LP releases where the CD version has extra tracks to make up the time . Quite common in Classical back catalogue.

Metadata is often sketchy especially in the Back Catalogue ones. I would hazard a guess that Disc Subtitle or the like doesn’t figure at all. This makes Roon’s job almost impossible without externally curated data.

I speak personally here I manage my large box sets via JRiver where I can define custom tags and custom views to help things. I have in the majority of my sets defined a “Disc Name” custom tag and in some cases Disc Volume (eg where in the Beethoven Edition there are defined volumes eg 1 Orchestral Works etc, 2 Symphonies etc)

The transition to Roon can work using the ROONALBUMTAG tag , if each CD has its Album tag set individually. Should the album tag = the Box Set name you are no further forward

Potential Solutions

These all include to a greater or lesser extent manual tag grooming

  1. Use the ROONALBUMTAG = Box Set name , and define each CD Album Tag = CD # + a Disc Subtitle . The Roon Tag generated automatically shows each album separated – Currently an available option with some external work . The prefix CD would spoil auto ID, its lack would sort the box alphabetically not by CD # , may be not a train smash.

  2. Define in advance “Album = a Box Set” the generate a “CD# - CD Subtitle” type of Tag View (same effect as using item 1 but maintaining the box as a Discrete Album

  3. In a Box set instead of the Disc1 - Disc200 Hyperlinks , extend the Hyperlink to CD# + CD Subtitle (provided by user – predefine which FLAC Tag will be used so that a user can populate this ) The current Box Set view would not really suit this approach

Option 1 is currently available , 2 & 3 would require Roon Input

Sorry if a little long but I hope it explains the dilemma , as I see it. I have experimented with a big set on option 1 to see how it runs in practice.

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Roon coula perfectly do without flder browsing if we had two now missing option.

  1. direct folder access from within Roon for editing your files with third party software.
  2. Album based playlist or sub collections or whatever you want to call it. Let me split the album browser in parts that I can personally define. Roon i missing a personal touch. It feels like a house that is designed by an interior designer but is missing any kind of personal touch.

As per the thread (not a debate)…can you tell me please: if we had access to our folders for whatever purpose - how does that not differ from folder browsing?

For the record, I sense there are likely many worthwhile reasons why people may like direct access to folders beyond simply using that as a means to browse. I think this is interesting as people have previously only stated they wanted to browse, yet there are potentially other reasons (you’ve stated one) why folder access within Roon could be valuable. :sunglasses:

Many of the people who particularly value folder browsing have been into locally streamed music longer than most, and have relatively large collections of music that they have carefully curated. You need to ask what are the critical features that folder browsing gives them that they miss when they consider switching to Roon, and why Roon often does not win them over.

Folder browsing allows users so inclined to maintain their own hierarchical view of their own music, much like when you buy a bookcase from IKEA you can put your own books wherever you like. Roon forces its own limited set of views on the user, and has no substitute for the nested views that you can make with folders. Roon does not offer a way of setting tags from folders (unlike JRMC).

So, if someone has a well structured set of folders, essentially their entire music collection is turned into a big mess when they switch to Roon.

IMO Roon needs to

  1. offer an option populate tags from folder names
  2. offer an option to create arbitrarily nested views based on tags

(Ps I don’t want or use folder browsing myself, but I do miss the kind of browsing I had with JRMC)

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Both these things exist, albeit with issues.

ROONALBUMTAG and ROONTRACKTAG combined with a filetag Editor enable users to create Tags based on folder names and populate them with Albums or Tracks. Filetag editors (I use mp3tag) allow users to insert variables such as folder name into batch jobs that can run through a directory structure adding the appropriate file tags to enable Roon to populate Tags based on those folder names.

Tags can be nested within one another in a hierarchy.

Sadly, however, Tag performance is slow and navigating nested Tags is not as easy as it should be.

Please give me an example of how I could use these features that you say exist to create a view of classical music, first level: composer, second level: sub-genre (Orchestral, Chamber, Solo, Opera), third level: composition, fourth level:performance.

Well it differs from folder browsing in a sense that I really don’t need nor want an old fashioned folder tree to choose my music from but from time to time you need to access the music files itself, prefably in bulk to be able to edit them in third party software since Roon is completley lacking any editor. For instance in my case where I still have around a thousand files that Roon sees as corrupt but that are not corrupt. I can’t directly acces them, only by copy pasting the file path one by one so that would take me hundreds of hours to do so plus a very high risk of doing things wrong. I have completely gave up on it, it is just undoable.
Second, in order to be able to use the tagging system in a way that resembles what I used to do with folder storage I need at least to be able to tag a complete directory. Roon only allows this on root level, it does not go any deeper than that. That’s what I have been asking for for years. The focus system should go deeper in storage location than just root folder. That alone would solve many of the problems people run in to when starting to use Roon. Yoe cannot expect people to completely throw away their own curation and to step into Roons automated curation instead. That is what Roon does, but they could provide some tools to overcome all of this.

Album based playlists, sub collections, seperate profile collections etc etc (there are many ways) are a better way then folder browsing because they can also include albums from streaming services and they can easily devide your collection in parts according to my own personall criteria that makes ense to me and doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else nor does it have to follow any database criteria, just somethin I myslef come up with why some albums are grouped together. That is way more like the human mind works, and a better way to find something in a slit second. Most people who want folder browsing only want it because they simply can’t remember every artist name and/or album title out there but can perfectly remember where they stored it. Roon ignores this human factor and that stand in the way of growing form a nice music organizer into a truly awesome music organizer.

So all in all, folder browsing is not needed in a way Jriver, Itunes, Mediamonkey or any other works but is soemtimes needed to be able to organize things the way I WANT, and not the way ROON THINKS I WANT IT, that is a very big difference. Like I said, Roon is a beautifull house that is designed by a top interior designer but it does not have any personality of me, only of the designer. That is not enough for a house to become a home.

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And using “Search” for a tag versus going to “Tags” is a different experience. Disappointing too.

I wouldn’t use these tools to create such a view because the existing Roon tools already do this. I would select from the Composer browser (say Liszt), view Compositions, Focus by Form (say Concertos), select a Composition (say Piano Concerto No.2 in A major) and view the various Performances.

Replicating such conventional views using Tags would be a disaster in a library of any size. It would be laborious to set up Tags for the various Forms and the performance would be atrocious.

The tools referred to are not intended to replace such conventional views across an entire library. They are intended to cater for smaller niche cases.

If there is an actual real world use case that you can set out then I’d be happy to suggest what can be done.

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I suspect you already know the answer

That is exactly how my JRMC structure is except I split Genre the Sub Genre for more granularity

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That is a way of doing it I agree, albeit somewhat laborious. A “tap/click” only solution would be more tablet friendly as I assume that’s how most people do this.

I have a very selected few done like that and Bookmarked eg Beethoven Piano Sonatas

The main drawback is it exposes weakness in the Bookmark process, but thats another thread.

Skinning Cats :crazy_face:

That doesn’t work! If I click the Composers view, then click Bach, ignore the stupid option for performances by Bach, select Compositions, there is no way to Focus by form, just a list of 1327 compositions. At 5 compositions per iPad screenful that is 265 scrolls to look at them. And my original question, and this, is “an actual real world use case”. You will probably now suggest that I try and use the incredibly tedious and non-visual Composition view, but that doesn’t help me with Qobuz.

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Hello evand, I’m missing your suggestions what you are listening to. For me yours were the best ones - same taste. It’ a pity. - Rolf

I mostly avoid posting in the forum as I find it’s too often an unpleasant place. 1.8 has caused me to make a few posts, but I’ve no intention of becoming a regular participant again. Hopefully Roon will in the not-too-distant future create some form of community within its cloud infrastructure that enables users to follow one another’s recommendations, albums played etc.