Amarok Insider - Issue 12In Rok
Hi, and welcome to the 12th issue of Amarok Insider. This time we prepared for you:
- Cool new Amarok look
- Context View mechanics
- Web services at work
- Phonon integration and it's consequences
- Discussing Amarok menus under OS X
- Amarok 1.4.9 (stable) released
- Amarok 2.0 feature freeze, first Alpha
- Amarok at FOSDEM, Bruxelles, Belgium
- Amarok at CeBIT, Hannover, Germany
- Amarok at OpenExpo, Bern, Switzerland
- Upcoming Amarok events
- Amarok for Life: Rok the Wall
System color scheme awarenessProbably the single most important feature is the ability to adapt to the system color scheme, completely. Check it out:
ScalabilityNo more bitmaps graphics! Every aspect of Amarok's artwork is vector based. No matter what size your display is, Amarok will look crisp and clear as never before.
Cool volume and progress slidersYou might remember the excitement that followed the introduction of the custom volume widget in Amarok 1.4. With the introduction of the new theme, it's time to show matching volume and progress sliders:
Don't they look lovely?
Album art watermarking
To distinguish tracks coming from different sources (local collection and various online services), Amarok displays a little service logo in the corner of the album cover.
It's unsure whether this feature will stay, so please add your feedback!
The same icon is also displayed in the status bar. Consistency is good :).
Apart from the theme shown above, developers and artist are experimenting with the new theme, which more closely reassembles the look of the original Amarok 2.0 mock-up. You might hear more about it later, but for now enjoy those highly preliminary screenshots:
Provides classic "currently playing" information: tags, album art, play count, track score and ratings.
Displays lyrics for the current track. Equivalent to the "Lyrics" tab from Amarok 1.4
Displays information provided by the currently used Internet Service. Magnatune store has some cool uses for it (we'll get to that later), and idle Amarok shows this:
WikipediaFetches artist, album or track information from Wikipedia. Replaces "Artist" tab from Amarok 1.4
Last.fm eventsDisplays upcoming Last.fm events for your account. Now with a custom settings dialog.
Cloud ViewThe cloud view is meant to present tags from different services (Magnatune, Jamendo, Last.fm) in a cool and fashionable way. For Magnatune (which is the only place it works, at the moment), the idea is that clicking one of these tags will load 10 random tracks tagged with this mood into the playlist. Along with the new service-specific buttons ("Find in service" and "Buy", covered later), this will provide a powerful new way of exploring the Magnatune catalog of music.
Custom browserIt's possible to create a completely custom service browser, which is used for adding music to the playlist. For example, the Last.fm plug-in offers complete personal account access, as well as selecting the radio station, and custom buttons. Magnatune on the other hand provides a browsable and searchable music catalog, with the ability to buy selected albums.
Main toolbar integrationAll services can provide custom buttons which will be displayed in the main toolbar, alongside the playback control buttons. When playing a Last.fm track, Love|Ban|Skip buttons appear, while Magnatune.com displays Buy Album and Find Artist buttons.
This also applies to the icon tray context menu:
Service information areaEvery service can show its custom information in the Context View. For example the Magnatune service features a welcome screen with introductory text and a list of the latest available albums. Clicking any of the albums shown here loads the album into the playlist, complete with album art and the options to directly buy or download it, or to open the Magnatune service with the artist of one of the albums selected, for easy browsing of other albums by the same artist.
ScriptingThe Services framework actively supports scripting. In fact, it's possible to create custom services using only scripting languages. You can start and stop scripted services via Amarok's Script Manager, and they appear in the Internet tab, like any other service. For example, Amarok ships with a SeeqPod service script, which provides access to SeeqPod's database with just over one hundred lines of Ruby code (including comments!).
Phonon is KDE's new and shiny multimedia layer, which makes audio and video easy on all platforms. After years of using multiple custom "engines" for playback, the Amarok developers decided that Phonon is good enough to replace the old infrastucture. Amongst other benefits, it results in substantial code simplification. So, from now on, Amarok no longer offers engine selection but uses Phonon directly.
posted a summary of his work getting Amarok to integrate better with the Mac OS X menubar:
On OS X all application menus live in the menubar. It's the thin bar along the top of the screen in all those OS X screenshots you see.
All applications also have what is referred to as the "Application menu" and then the actual menu entries for the application.
The "Application menu" gets it's name from the name of the app it is displaying. In the case of Amarok this results in duplicate menu items named "Amarok".
Amarok Amarok Playlist Mode Tools Settings Help
is the resulting menu setup. Quite confusing. To rectify this I've renamed the second Amarok entry Playback, as it refers to entries that have to do with playback. This gives us
Amarok Playback Playlist Mode Tools Settings Help
The Mode menu entry only has two items, and honestly doesn't really make much sense all by itself (Mode of what?) so I removed the playback mode entries, and put them in the Playback menu.
The result is now:
Amarok Playback Playlist Tools Settings Help
The Application menu (labelled Amarok by the OS) also has some standard entries. One of these standard entries is the Preferences. Qt, through some string replacement black magic takes Settings -> Configure Amarok... and converts it to Amarok -> Preferences. This does two things. First it puts the entry in a location where OS X users expect there application preferences to be, second it gives it a shortcut that OS X users know will automatically take them to the applications preferences.
The one things that is left outstanding is whether or not to include a "Window" menu entry. This is required by Apple HIG and contains required entries such as Minimize, Zoom (basically Maximize) and allows access to other window which may be opened up by the application. The problem with this is that those entries in Amarok already have a menu. It's called Tools. Personally I'm ambivalent on the following of the HIG. But if we want to properly integrate into OS X, i think it's something we should do.
He added later on:
And all the changes I've made here are all special cases only for OS X. None of these changes will show up in Linux/Windows versions.
Take a look at the resulting screenshots:
released. Among other fixes it features corrected Amazon album art download and updated translations. Get it here.
Amarok 2.0 is entering feature freeze, which means developers are determining the final feature set. When all outstanding issues are resolved the first Alpha version will be released, after which no new features are going be introduced. Don't worry if your favorite feature won't cut for the version 2.0.0, as it'll be the very first release in a probably quite long series, with lots of functionality added on the go :). Expect an Alpha announcement soon.
As last year we shared a booth with the KDE project at FOSDEM in Bruxelles. We had several machines with up to date SVN builds with us. Those were still pretty unstable, which changed a lot for CeBIT some days later, but good enough to show what we are currently working on. Those were also the days our mascot Mike had its first public appearance.
On Saturday Nikolaj gave a talk about Amarok 2 in the well visited KDE devroom. He also gave a very similar talk at OpenExpo, where it was recorded on video.
For the first time ever we took part in the worlds largest computer expo: CeBIT in Hannover. For six days we showed an interested audience what hopefully will be Amarok 2 in a few months, but of course we also had a stable version with us, including nearly all available features. We didn't count the visitors but we nearly lost our voices from talking the whole day and sold all the shirts we had with us. Many thanks go to Linux New Media who sponsored the booth.
There were also several talks you might be interested in: on Saturday Sven showed the audience Amarok 1.4.8, answered questions and gave an overview of the development that took place in trunk. Also on Saturday there was a talk by Franz Keferböck about KDE 4. Those, and all the other talks, are available for streaming. But be warned, the talks were done in German.
This March, Project founder Mark Kretschmann and Nikolaj Hald Nielsen, one of our main developers, went to Bern to man a booth at Open Expo. They got to talk to a lot of Amarok users and potential new users, had a few technical discussion and went out for beer with Alan Cox (one of the core Linux kernel hackers), who turns out to be a really nice and fun guy.
Nikolaj: As is unfortunately most often the case when manning a booth, I did not get to go see many talks myself. I did get to give one of my own though (which was also the main reason I flew in from Denmark). The talk (which incidentally is the same one I gave at FOSDEM) is called "Amarok2 – in the intersection between free software and free culture" and slides can be found here and a video (unfortunately with very bad sound quality) can be seen here: here.
Oh, and they had "Free Beer" which is of course really good stuff! :-)
Open Source Expo in Karlsruhe, Germany on May 25th and 26th and also in LinuxTag in Berlin, starting two days later. As always we will have merchandise, our mascot Mike and several highly motivated Rokymoters with us. Maybe we will also have talks there, but the conference schedules are not yet finished.
After Amarok developer Markey demonstrated his craziness, it's time for the second geek to enter the show. We prepared a short interview with Jeremy Bernhardt from from Melville, Canada, who painted the Amarok logo on his wall!
Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Jeremy Bernhardt from Melville, Saskatchewan, Canada and I'm a grade 9 student who use GNU/Linux to do anything from assignments to relaxing.
In my free time i'm helping others with computer issues (Im the go-to guy :-).
How and when did you find out about Amarok?
I found out about Amarok in December 2007 when I installed Kubuntu (kubuntu-desktop :-) on my Ubuntu 7.10 machine.
We heard you did something crazy. Could you describe it a bit further?
My sister and I were creating a room to chill in when we decided to paint the walls with cool things! My sis (being a dog lover) wanted a wolf on one wall. I however wanted something Linux related. Then it hit me AMAROK! A little time and paint later we had achieved our goal.
Did you know Markey tattooed Amarok logo on his arm?
No, I didn't, But after Googling it (he apparently doesn't read Insider. Release the sharks!) I have one thing to say:
DUDE! Way to show your love of Amarok!
What do you think is the next thing we'll see the Amarok logo painted on?
Either a garage door, graffiti'd on the side of a building or on a vehicle.
Any extra comments?
1. Amarok is the best media player in the history of man! It was the one sole app that made me switch from Ubuntu to Kubuntu (I reinstalled :-)!
2. Thank all of you who donated your time, money or mad hacking skills to Amarok! without you this project wouldn't be alive!
3. Thanks to Nightrose (Amarok community manager) who passed this along!
For more pics go to Jeremy's Picasa web album.
OK, two geeks gone, more to come. We're waiting for your submissions! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the topic "Amarok for Life".