Amarok2 and redefinition of awesomeness

Disclaimer: Fully aware of the fact that this post will bring no change to Amarok or KDE, I am setting out to write this nonetheless. I know I should have been more constructive, but this is all I got to spare right now.

With the disclaimer out of the way, I used to be a KDE user and devoted Amarok user. Even when fancy took me to run Gnome, I used to run Amarok faithfully. Nothing unique, many Gnome users do the same.

Amarok2 has been criticised and critics attacked fittingly. Starting with huge “fuck you” in the clouds (addition is mine and text theirs) and much politer version ( http://amarok.kde.org/en/node/604 ).

However I am not entirely convinced that Amarok1.4 was a sinking boat of feature creep and junkyard of code. At least it wan’t trying to be a dysfunctional video player like Banshee, right? ;)

Anyways I care about very few features and only complain from me in feature department is, they have hidden some quick actions inside deep menus in Amarok2, such as “repeat single track”. Apart from this snag, me and Amarok2 go quite well together when it comes to features.

Now coming to main point.

  • UI : We programmers sometimes get so blinded by our creation that we see nothing past it. The plasma widget in center is exact case of that. In a media player, meta info about music is not more important than the music itself. Meta information is a nice to have feature and shouldn’t protrude like it does in Amarok2. I do like lyrics, album info and other semantic information but main thing that I do with my media player is drag songs from collection and drop it in the playlist. Most of the time its just minized to system tray. I do not run music player to impress chicks. Besides that widget poses significant challenges to entire layout. In beta and RC releases, damn thing rarely used to scale with rest of the window. In final version its better but yet above screenshot is living proof of its fragility.
  • Scattered playlist control : Okay even Amarok1.4 wasn’t a god in this, but it was better. Most of the playlist controls were somewhat closer. Contrast this with Amarok2 where playlist search is in one corner, <play/pause/stop> in another, <clear playlist/add to playlist> somewhere else. More so some of the controls are not at all on the screen or in context menu but are only accessible from main application menu.

  • Amarok Bug tracker : You come as a well meaning user and want to submit a bug report for Amarok, I would be quite surprised if you can find a link to bug tracker on ( http://amarok.kde.org/ ). But then bug tracking has been traditionally a no-joy operative word in Open Source because of monstrosity called Bugzilla. In this post Aaron Seigo ( http://aseigo.blogspot.com/2009/01/building-community-around-your-foss.html ) talks about lowering the barrier to entry. I have worked with bugzilla in past and user/submitter side of pain is nothing compared to pain the developer goes through. Contrast this with bliss Rails developers are having (http://rails.lighthouseapp.com/dashboard ). Why can’t this be improved?

Categories: amarok

Comments (8)

  • “Disclaimer: …” Never say never… :-D

    “Stability : …” Anecdotal only, I know, but for the most part, Amarok 2 is relatively stable for me, except for brief periods when someone has really screwed up the current trunk. I am wondering if there are greater stability issues with some of the distro packages than on my hand rolled version. In any case, I agree that Amarok 2 is not yet anywhere near as stable as 1.4.10, but the version numbers alone should give a good indication as to why this is.

    “UI : …” I still think, notwithstanding that the implementation in 2.0.0 and 2.0.1.1 is far from perfect that our idea for the context view is valid. The mechanics of how the context view works is currently getting a major overhaul for 2.1.0 (no more of this buggy zooming stuff) and with some of the other things happening that also affects the applets, it is really starting to mature well in my humble opinion. Sure, some people will not need/use it at all, so it can be hidden just by resizing the playlist and browser.

    “Scattered playlist control: …” I am not convinced that playback controls and playlist controls really need to be in the same area. I do see your point about the playlist buttons ( clear, save, … ) and search bar being quite far from each other. Conceptually these belong together.

    “Amarok Bug tracker : …” Reading this actually made me go to the front page on our website and look for the bugs/issues/tracker link, and you are right, there is none (I had never noticed since I always use a bookmark). This is something that really should be fixed.

  • @ Nikolaj

    My actual intent was to submit about 5 or 6 bug reports I had about UI and playback issues. I thought forum wasn’t a right place for bug reports and you guys refuse to provide me a direct link and hence the rant. :)

    I hope some good comes out of it.

  • oh…

    I dont think we have ever tried to withhold it, and its all over our irc channel topic at least. But the link is http://bugs.kde.org as we use the main kde bugtracker.

  • Bugzilla absolutely can be improved. :-) We’ve made some UI improvements in 3.2, and we’d like to make more. You’re welcome to join the User Experience team and help us fix up the UI, we’d love to have that.

    http://wiki.mozilla.org/Bugzilla:UE

    -Max

  • I have always been a huge fan of amarok, and used it even though I have used GNOME exclusively until recently. I was happy when I switched to the new KDE to be able to run amarok where it belonged.

    Anyway, 2 has run stable for me, and I have it running constantly.

    thanks

  • @Nikolaj:
    Yes, I am aware about bugs.kde.org, still I was expecting a link. BTW, I am sure you guys have better ideas about Context view, but wasn’t it unfair to take an idea thats still in infancy and slap it on the users. Stability doesn’t mean that app shouldn’t crash, but it should work too.

    @Max Kanat-Alexander:
    I wouldn’t know where to start. I don’t know how much change Bugzilla is willing to accommodate in simplifying its user interface. Besides that I have very different ideas about Issue/Bug tracking, so much so that I am working on one right now. I am sorry, but I have to say no. Good luck though, I hope Bugzilla gets better.

  • it’s 2 Feb 2010 and Amarok 2.2.2 is still a cry of pain

  • Awesome post, I am an avid reader of your site, keep on posting that great content, and I will be a regular for a long time.

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