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I have been following the news around Windows Phone 7 (WP7) since it was first announced back in February and have been getting more and more excited about the phone & the platform ever since.  I am also currently building applications for WP7 and believe this phone will be worth the wait.

One of the tasks I have taken on since I made the decision to move to Windows Phone is getting my music library ready.  I have quite a large collection of music that has been gathered over may years.  It was unorganized, missing metadata and full of music I no longer care to listen too.

I set out, about 6 months ago, with the mission to rate all my music, update the metadata, acquire the album art and reduce the size to something that will fit on my mobile device.  I currently have an iPhone, and while I think that the iPhone is quite a good mobile phone, you are required to use iTunes to manage it.  I never really enjoyed using iTunes before this project and now, after using it quite heavily for six months, I can honestly and vigorously say, without question, that I truly hate it.

So, that being said, I am looking forward to using the Zune Software instead of iTunes once I purchase a shinny new Samsung Focus when they are made available in Canada.  Of course, this presented a problem.  All my music, along with all my work over the last six months is trapped in iTunes.  While iTunes will update basic metadata in the actual files (like artist, album, title) it will not update the ratings.

How am I to get the ratings out of iTunes and into the files?  I searched long and hard for a solution to this issue but, alas, was unable to find one.  So, I decided to solve the problem myself.  I have just released the first version of iTunes Toolbox on Codeplex.

iTunes Toolbox allows you to:

  • Sync ratings from iTunes to Windows Files
  • Sync ratings from Windows Files to iTunes
  • Delete files rated one (1) from both Windows & iTunes
  • Rename files (Format: Artist [Album] – Title)

The Zune software (unlike iTunes) will monitor your music folders and automatically update the metadata and ratings.  So, as I rated my music, updated the metadata and deleted songs I no longer wanted, I would use my application to update the physical files.  Zune would then automatically updated itself and Voilà! my music is ready for my new Windows Phone.

As a extra bonus, this process also ensures I don’t ever loose my rating information.  Since iTunes stores all the rating information in it’s own database, if that database becomes corrupted, you loose it all.  This actually happened to me a couple of times in the last six months.  I learned how to backup (export) my iTunes library after the first crash, but I lost a good six weeks of effort.  After that I backed up my iTunes library every day.  Once I started syncing my rating information into the actual files, I no longer had this worry.  If the iTunes library corrupted, I could just update it from the ratings in the files.

Anyway, I am looking forward to the day (soon) that I no longer need to use iTunes.  I hope this software solution will help others make the move or just loose less sleep worrying if iTunes is going to crash and wipe out all their rating data.