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Amarok gets a facelift

By Jeremy LaCroix on December 11, 2008 (7:00:00 PM)

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After more than a year in development, Amarok, a multipurpose media player with a host of features, has issued release candidate code for version 2. It comes with a completely redesigned interface, and takes advantage of KDE 4's new libraries and interfaces. While you may have a hard time getting used to the new interface, you'll probably come to appreciate all the improvements.

The old version of Amarok was no slouch. Not only was it able to play your music library, it also was able to add music to your MP3 player and look up lyrics or Wikipedia information for currently playing music. It managed your music collection and downloaded cover art for your albums. It was a fast, proficient media player.

But although Amarok was essentially a KDE application, it has never had the same release schedule as KDE, so when KDE 4 was released, there was no matching revision of Amarok to go along with it, and the original Amarok doesn't integrate as well with KDE 4.

The project provides binary packages of Amarok 2.0 for several distributions, as well as source code. I installed Amarok 2 on Kubuntu 8.10. When I launched it for the first time, a configuration window appeared that let me select my music directory (which it guessed correctly). Amarok then started scanning my collection. In just under two minutes, all of my 3,000 MP3 files were added to its library. The new version scans through music faster than the old. I then set up Amarok to automatically download cover art for my albums, and I was good to go.

After setting it up, the first thing I noticed about version 2 was the new interface. Almost nothing is the same as the original Amarok. Now, your collection, saved playlists, and Internet radio appears on the left, and your currently used playlist is on the right. In the middle you have an interface for Plasma widgets (called Plasmoids) which you can customize completely. In fact, you have four pages to work with, and each one can contain whichever Plasmoids you wish from those available out of the box or downloaded separately. You can add such things as a lyrics applet, Wikipedia lookup, and more. All you have to do is right-click in the middle pane, click Add Applet, choose a Plasmoid from the list that appears, and you're on your way to setting up your own personal layout. You can click on the magnifying glass in the bottom right corner to get a fresh page on which you can add more widgets.

Amarok 2 is more playlist-driven than ever before. Double-clicking on any artist, album, or song in the collection list in the left pane adds those files to the playlist on the right and starts the music playing. After setting up the playlist as you wish, you can save it so you can load it again later. You can even add your entire collection as a playlist if you want, so you can shuffle all of your songs. Internet radio makes a strong appearance as well, with Shoutcast, Jamendo, and others enabled right out of the box.

Under the hood, Amarok 2 uses KDE's Phonon for audio support and Solid for handling hardware such as media players. Phonon allows Amarok to use KDE's audio configuration, rather than having to set up its own, and Solid provides an interface for Amarok to communicate with an MP3 player. The application is built with Qt4, which means that the interface matches that of KDE 4 very well. Unfortunately, my MP3 player, a Creative Zen Stone, was the only thing that I had trouble with, as Amarok wouldn't detect it at all. Yet overall, Amarok 2 was much more responsive for me than the previous series.

Although Amarok has always been a KDE application, many people using different desktop environments now use it. It works fine under GNOME, Xfce, or whatever else may be on your system, as long as the right libraries are installed. Now, Amarok 2 is no longer Linux-exclusive -- there are versions available for Windows and Mac OS X (using the KDE installer).

On the down side

Unfortunately, Amarok 2 isn't all easy listening. The new interface takes some getting used to. Since it's a complete redesign, even those who know Amarok inside and out will need to adjust a bit. I found the interface to be rather clunky at first, though it wasn't so bad once I got used to it.

If you create a playlist with a large amount of music, it's a bit more difficult to scroll through the list than it was before, because you have a smaller area in which to scroll. Also, the three-paned interface causes some screen real estate to be lost all around, with some information that was available in the original release, such as the year, bit rate, and genre of the media, completely missing from the playlist.

As far as theming goes, Amarok 2 does its best to match your KDE color scheme. This is both a blessing and a curse. It's wonderful that it matches your KDE color settings, but I could not get it to update along with other desktop environments. While I was using GNOME, I could not find a way to change the color theme at all (other than logging in to KDE and changing it there). Universal theming should be a priority now that Amarok is no longer exclusive to KDE, or even Linux.

Amarok 2 is a radical change from the original release cycle. Although the software is great and does the job it set out to do, the interface is brand new and may turn off those that prefer the original Amarok or a media player with more information fields. Also, even though it works well in other desktops and even other operating systems, it's clear that it was meant for KDE, since theming seems to be impossible anywhere else. On the upside, Amarok 2 does the job it set out to do well, and is a wonderful compliment to any KDE 4 installation. Once you get used to the new interface, it's actually not too bad -- if you're like me, you may end up liking it a bit better. In the final analysis, Amarok 2.0 provided me with some great tunes while I wrote this article, and it has been a pleasure to use.

Jeremy LaCroix is an IT technician who writes in his free time.

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on Amarok gets a facelift

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 193.71.118.57] on December 11, 2008 07:55 PM
First, while not tecnically an error, it's been in development for over 2 years, second it is not a release-candidate but in fact a two-point-oh release.

Also, I disagree about the theming part; it should be the job of the window-manager to theme things, not the application itself. Imaging having to theme EVERY SINGLE app yourself. What on earth would that be good for? Better to have one ring to rule them all :)

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.168.30.240] on December 11, 2008 08:07 PM
Hasn't this been included in major distros for awhile now? I've been using for months.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.170.247.190] on December 11, 2008 08:57 PM
On Theming, Amarok 2.0 uses the QT4 graphical framework, and anything using QT4 will use the same theme, configured on a per-user basis. When switching to Gnome, the apps all use GTK which uses a separate (mostly incompatible) set of themes. What needs to happen is for some bridgework to be done so that when changing the QT(4) theme, that it also adjusts the GTK theme to match as closely as possible (and vice-versa) in order to maintain a uniform interface.

On the version of Amarok included in major distros, that would be the 1.4 version, which corresponds to the KDE 3.5 desktop series and the QT3 framework .

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Re: Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.41.193.90] on December 11, 2008 10:44 PM
Amarok 2.0-SVN... Been using it for a couple of months in Mandriva.

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Re(1): Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.215.140.215] on December 12, 2008 12:06 AM
Thats because Mandriva is effin nuts. :)

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Re: Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 18.208.1.44] on December 12, 2008 06:30 PM
Wait for Qt 4.5. It will include a new theme engine developed by Trolltech, QGtkStyle, which does exactly that. From what I've seen of it (you can get it to run on Qt 4.4 and, with some work, even Qt 4.3), it is extremely well-done, and not unstable like the GTK equivalent. The Trolltech guys care a lot about improving their toolkit and jumped through all the hoops needed. (Notably, GTK's rather lacking drawing API, which requires all 3rd-party programs, including Firefox, OpenOffice, and Qt, to do this silly two-pass rendering thing to draw on a transparent background.)

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Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 128.171.218.87] on December 11, 2008 08:58 PM
I agree with your last point. I've been using Amarok for a long time, but I have to say that Amarok v2 makes me want to use a different media player. Amarok 1.x was such an outstanding media player & manager that it actually convinced several of my friends and family to switch to Linux. Now it's hard to use, lacks most of the features that made Amarok 1.x awesome, and is quite frankly unsightly. I have nearly 9000 songs in my library, so this new layout really doesn't work for me, and the small, simple features that differentiated Amarok 1.x from every other media player are gone. It's a shame, really.

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Re: Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 204.111.128.236] on December 11, 2008 09:27 PM
I hear lots of noise, but nothing constructive.

> "Now it's hard to use"
In what way?

> "..lacks most of the features that made Amarok 1.x awesome"
What features specifically?

> "and is quite frankly unsightly."
What about it do you think is unsightly?

> "I have nearly 9000 songs in my library, so this new layout really doesn't work for me"
How does having X songs affect the layout "working" for you? I have 30,000 songs and the layout functions correctly for me.

> "and the small, simple features that differentiated Amarok 1.x from every other media player are gone"
Again, which features are those?

Us Amarok devs do not live in a black box totally cut off from our user base. The only way we can improve the feature set and the UI is when we know exactly what our users do not like about it. A simple "The new UI is unsightly" tells us we need to make it better, but not what needs to be addressed. We can take (and even welcome) extremely harsh criticism, but we cannot act unless we have substantial issues to address. Otherwise we shoot in the dark, which doesn't seem to work.

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Re(1): Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.180.135.177] on December 12, 2008 04:03 AM
perhaps based upon this persons experience nothing constructive could be said! I for one hate KDE v4 and still use v 3.x when ever I use KDE. I hate Gnome but since I fear KDE 3.x will not be supported in the future I am in the market for a new desktop. The only way to address the concerns is to dump KDE v 4 and revert back to what was a good app in the v 1.x series. I for one could care less that everything have a unified look and feel on my pc. maybe I am weird but I just want stuff to work well and could care less what it looks like.
Robert B.

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Re(2): Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.139.97.90] on December 12, 2008 03:10 PM
Amen! I too prefer KDE3 since 4 struggles on my hardware whereas 3 did not, plus it feels as if they took many of the features out. I especially notice this in Control Centre in KDE. I appreciate that KDE4 has been a long time in development and know that they have put many hours of effort into it (which I truly appreciate) but KDE3.5 worked perfectly well and was exceptionally mature - why start again??????? Sadly I am using Fedora10 and notice a distinct lack of KDE3 - anyone know where I can grab it? I have been attemping to use XFCE but it just doesn't behave the same as KDE3, sob sniffle weep.

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Re(1): Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.87.23.21] on December 12, 2008 06:55 PM
Very easy: Bring back the old layout! The new layout is illogical and costs too much space and doesn't show everything.

Illogical: pane 1 is collection, pane 2 is individual song, pane 3 is playlist. Logical: collection (big), playlist (smaller), song (smallest)

Costs too much space: the 'excel view' in Amarok 1.4 shows lots of info in a relative small area. Also the sorting was much easier.

Doesn't show everything. As the article points out, info like genre or bitrate is not visable right away.

I'm eager to use it because of the new sound system, but the UI was so irritating and annoying that after 2 weeks of trying I went back to 1.4 and won't use version 2 until the 'excel view' returns.

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Re(1): Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 98.150.203.240] on December 13, 2008 07:51 AM
> "I hear lots of noise, but nothing constructive."

Sorry, I was at work and didn't feel it was the right place to write an essay. I'll try to be a bit more constructive.

>> "Now it's hard to use"
> "In what way?"

As a Gnome user, when I first installed Amarok 2 in Fedora 10, many dependencies were not caught, so for days I couldn't figure out why NOTHING showed up in the middle pane and no songs would play. No error messages. No clues. Just silence. It took installing a bunch of KDE4 components to get it working (which is fine, but it would have been nice if the package had caught it or the app warned of missing components).

>> "..lacks most of the features that made Amarok 1.x awesome"
> "What features specifically?"

Visualizations, Stop after current song, song queuing, extensive yet concisely laid out song information

>> "and is quite frankly unsightly."
> "What about it do you think is unsightly?"

I guess it's just the visual disconnect of a KDE4 app running in Gnome. I know there are ways to fix it, but why should I have to fix something that shouldn't be an issue to begin with? But I suppose it's also the layout. I used to be able to see 40-50 songs in my playlist on a single screen. Now it's too big. I can barely fit a couple albums worth on a screen. Also, the current album and song info is really sparse now.

>> "I have nearly 9000 songs in my library, so this new layout really doesn't work for me"
> "How does having X songs affect the layout "working" for you? I have 30,000 songs and the layout functions correctly for me."

I didn't mean this as some sort of pissing match, it's just that the new layout is kludgy and hard to navigate compared to v1.4. I could find what I was looking for quickly and easily in v1.4, and it's no longer the case in v2.

>> "and the small, simple features that differentiated Amarok 1.x from every other media player are gone"
> "Again, which features are those?"

See above... I really miss the "stop after current song" and song queue features.

> "Us Amarok devs do not live in a black box totally cut off from our user base. The only way we can improve the feature set and the UI is when we know exactly what our users do not like about it. A simple "The new UI is unsightly" tells us we need to make it better, but not what needs to be addressed. We can take (and even welcome) extremely harsh criticism, but we cannot act unless we have substantial issues to address. Otherwise we shoot in the dark, which doesn't seem to work."

Sorry -- I should know better than to just bitch and moan. It was an emotional response because I really did love using Amarok 1.4, and that joy is largely gone now. Fortunately, I believe the sore spots would be easy enough to fix, but it's really a matter of whether you Amarok devs want to (please do -- pretty pretty please).

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Re(1): Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 209.190.168.98] on December 15, 2008 09:04 PM
>> "..lacks most of the features that made Amarok 1.x awesome"
>What features specifically?

For me, the ability to customize the informational fields in the playlist, and having those fields on one line. Just from visual scanning perspective, if I want to quickly see last played time on 1.x or iTunes, I can just draw my eye straight down one column. Even if I rip out a field in 2.x and add that field back, It's going to be "scan your eye down the list, discarding irrelevant field", since each track has multiple rows of metadata.

Does it play music? Sure does, and I love the applet zooming features too, it's just that one playlist issue with me, and the fact that "random repopulate" only gives 10 tracks instead of 50, but that's another easy fix + recompile away I guess for me.

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Re(1): Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 168.200.2.1] on December 17, 2008 10:36 PM
Start by reading your own support forums then. The 3 pane interface is butt ugly and way worse than then 1.x release.

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Re(1): Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 127.0.0.1] on December 18, 2008 08:47 PM
OK, here's one for starters: Why is there a pane between the playlist and the collection sidebar?

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Re(1): Prefer Version 1.x

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.24.241.106] on December 28, 2008 12:08 AM
>> "..lacks most of the features that made Amarok 1.x awesome"
> What features specifically?
Proper support for MySql. You already had a proper MySql interface, why throw it away?
Its impossible to configure the colour scheme. Again, why remove this feature?

>> "Now it's hard to use"
>In what way?
It keeps adding random songs to what I'm listening to. Undoubtedly I can turn this off - if I can find the bl**dy setting. But currently every time I pick a track, it selects a bunch of random stuff and adds it to the current playlist. How annoying a feature is this?

>Us Amarok devs do not live in a black box totally cut off from our user base.
No, but you did in this case apparently develop something fairly poor, compared to the original. Sorry, but thats my view.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 199.125.14.2] on December 11, 2008 09:05 PM
You can change kde4 settings in GNOME by using alt+F2 and entering systemsettings and hit enter. this will start the kde4 control panel and you can change you themes and color schemes accordingly.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 83.222.147.62] on December 11, 2008 09:23 PM
Thanks for this balanced and well written review. We appreciate your praise and your honesty, and we will try to keep the criticism in mind for future releases.

--
Mark Kretschmann
Amarok Developer
www.kde.org - amarok.kde.org

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.92.247.28] on December 11, 2008 11:25 PM
test

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Awseome Release

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.212.184.208] on December 12, 2008 12:08 AM
Wow, I'm pleasently surprised by the new version. Especially considering it has been changed so much and is only at version 2.0.0. The look is a lot better then with the old version and i love it how fast it works with large collections. The center with customizable widgets are also very cool. This is a very good start of the new series and I see a lot potencial for future improvements that were not possible before. Thanks for making the best even better!

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.111.229.186] on December 12, 2008 01:09 AM
ugly! not worth the facelift..

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Re: Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 98.228.222.154] on December 12, 2008 01:47 AM
In fairness to the developers, I have to state up front that the following opinions are based solely on the screen shots, so I might not have the full picture.

To me, the three pane interface looks more cluttered while providing less useful information. As someone with a fairly old MP3 collection, my files were organized by directories and the tags were essentially ignored. I have been using Amarok 1.4 (and earlier) to organize my collection, and the amount of information in the 1.4 layout made it significantly easier to tag and otherwise clean up my files. If I can't setup a view like version 1.4, I'm afraid I won't be upgrading to 2.0.

For me, a more useful three pane layout would be one vertical pane on the left and two horizontal panes on the right, so that I can fit all the information about a file I want to see on a single line. This would also allow me to continue to display larger images of the album covers which at first glance seem impractical in version 2.0.

The older interface was the best of any application I have used in any category for any purpose. It was extremely well thought out (dare I say a work of genius), functional and attractive. While the new one *looks* good enough (except for the postage stamp sized album art), it appears to be far less functional for what I need. It actually reminds me of Rythmbox, which I originally dropped in favor of Amarok.

I hate being critical, because I really appreciate the effort that went into this. It sounds like many of the other "under the hood" features are dramatically improved. I just wish that the best user interface I have ever worked with had not been changed.

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Amarok gets a facelift with Dr. Mengele

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 201.9.129.183] on December 12, 2008 06:33 AM
When reviewers say "it's actually not too bad" about a product that in its previous incarnation was considered best of breed, and users commenting in other places say "it's nice despite its look", something is deeply wrong.
You, my dear anonymous dev which your machine's ip was 204.111.128.236, I'd like to know if you're demented, as people have been complaining about Amarok2's design decisions in your mailing lists, numerous forums, news sites, dot.kde.org, amarok.kde.org and so on and so on, and it seems you didn't notice. After so many people complained out loud I assumed you were aware. If you aren't, either you have some cognitive disorder or are taking us for clowns for your amusement. To us it's not so amusing at all.
You're not obliged to implement anything we need or ask for, but don't pretend to be unaware of something spread by the four winds as the general dissatisfaction with Amarok2.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: PerlCoder on December 12, 2008 07:49 AM
Come on everybody... we all know Herrie is the best music player, anyway. ;)



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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.111.229.186] on December 12, 2008 07:55 AM
You don't call this a 'Facelift" cause it's not really improving anything in its appearance. Well, I am glad there's Songbird...

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.200.74.164] on December 12, 2008 08:19 AM
I think the quick way to improve the looks would be to remove all those little icons in different colors and sizes replace them with others which are more uniform and less colorful. It kind of looks like a web page full of flash ads ;). I haven't tried the 2.0 just judging by the screenshots. I've been using Amarok (and Adblock;) for years and as a Gnome user tolerated the vertical menu bar but this just makes me not bother to install it now. 1.4 looks OK and Songbird is improving. This goes for the whole KDE4 as well and is really a shame because Qt is really nice and snappy now.

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Congrats!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.195.252.31] on December 12, 2008 12:35 PM
I for one welcome our new Amarok 2 overlords!

Honestly seems like all these negative comments are as objective as Fox News.

But yeah I don't like those big buttons, progress bar, volumebar and that huge unused grey space there in between them (alphas looked better IMO). Otherwise amaROK ON!

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.163.71.115] on December 12, 2008 12:44 PM
Just a few days ago I gave up on using the 1.x series due to bugs with the podcasts, along with the unpredictable crashes that have plagued Amarok for years; hopefully 2.x will be better in this regard. I won't try it for awhile as I'm a Debian Stable user.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.232.16.14] on December 12, 2008 02:00 PM
For those complaining about amarok 2.0, I suggest you take a look at other players, there is a lot of them. My favorite is gmusicbrowser, it lacks some features that some might consider essential, but it has many more, and is very configurable. Another interesting one is mpd, a music deamon with multiple GUIs. And then there is exaile, juk, banshee, quod libet, audacious, rhythmbox, ...

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Re: Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 209.190.168.98] on December 17, 2008 08:13 PM
@ Anonymous [ip: 82.232.16.14]

I think the only reason anyone is complaining is that Amarok is a project we really like, and have very specific reasons for liking, and in 2.0, many of those reasons are gone. It's one thing to abandon a project because development tails off, or it never really did exactly what you wanted so you jump when something better comes along. In Amarok's case, it already was, for many many people, the absolute best-of-breed music library manager, and with 2.0, many of the features and workflows we've become used to are gone, making it less useful. The developers seem interested in people's critiques, and seem willing to help find alternative methods, so why should anyone jump ship to a project which, when compared to Amarok 1.4.x, doesn't come close to measuring up?

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 189.25.147.81] on December 12, 2008 03:08 PM
I like the KDE project and usually rate its native apps among the best, but I would really appreciate if they leave options on their apps to use the "classical" view, that is why some of us picked them anyway (and, of course, because some "features"). Also, I hope they don't go the Gnome direction of suppress options just to make it "clean". Level settings would be the best solution or perhaps, loadable extensions.

As a side note, I really don't have use for all this 3-panel "paradigm" they are so fond now. To me it is just waste of real state and one reason I never really enjoyed the original NextSTEP interface. Nor do I now despite all eyecandy.

Besides that, the most powerful, logical and well grounded desktop ever created.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.218.151.122] on December 12, 2008 04:07 PM
With the growing popularity of the Amazon DRM free MP3 store, it would be great to see some sort of integration here in the future.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.54.109.3] on December 12, 2008 04:31 PM
I used amarok exclusively until I upgraded to Fedora 10. The new interface sucks! I am using kde 4.1 with songbird now. Amarok developers please look at what a good interface looks like. KDE 4.1 works fine for me I did change the default menu bar. And that is my only criticism of songbird right now, it needs to use the same title bar as every other app.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 136.204.148.172] on December 12, 2008 04:57 PM
Maybe it's because I've been playing with it since it's been remotely stable on my hardware (better part of a year), and I might just be used to it by now. But I don't see what all the fuss is about the new interface. It pretty much lets you see your collection and your context view at the same time.

And, to the people complaining, I'm not a dev, but I'm still curious what makes it "ugly" or "unusable" and what "features" are missing. Maybe I'm just easily satisfied and don't demand much of my media players, but Amarok2's been doing everything I need it to for months. And let's not forget, this is a 2.0.0 release - a complete, from-the-ground-up rewrite. Just because a feature is missing now doesn't mean they gave it the finger and sent it packing. The developers aren't "done". They just reached a milestone and did some spit-shining before they moved on.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.9.163.106] on December 12, 2008 07:43 PM
"Amarok 2 is more playlist-driven than ever before."

How? I mean, everything you say in support of that statement (except adding my entire collection, which I've no desire to do) is something I already do on the old Amarok.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.170.247.190] on December 12, 2008 10:43 PM
To the people complaining about the "ugly interface", I think that much of the 'aesthetic issues' are due to the KDE4/QT4 default theme Oxygen. While it is a nice theme which shows off some of the new things that QT4 can do, after a while the default grey color scheme just makes things look drab and distasteful.
Here's a hint to 'fix' probably 80-90% of the "ugly interface" 'problems': change your QT4 style. Either use a different theme, or change the colors (or both). They are there to be changed and offer the same level of customization as you had with KDE3.5/QT3. There are even themes available to use archaic motif or win95 widget styles, if you so desire.

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Amarok is fine, whiners whine

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.239.89.47] on December 13, 2008 02:49 AM
I used my friends Ubuntu laptop for a week and the first things I did was install Kopete, VLC and Amarok, the latter being my choices for audio and video, so Im a fan.
Do I like v2? Yes. Is there things I dont like in it? Yes, just like every other piece of software, even the holy VLC.

Have I found something better than Amarok? No.
I have the iTunes look so Songbird is not an option. Im more into the old Winamp minimalist look.

As for the comments, once again the anti-KDE4 feel it is their duty to remind people that developers dont care about what they want when I have found the opposite to be true.
But you will NEVER please everyone (unless youre Apple fanbois who believe that every error, screwup or foible is benefit) and changing the underlying architecture of v4 is still thought to be a spur of the moment decision when its effects will permit the desktop environment to be at the forefront of what is done.

Aarong Siego does a weekly webcast on Ustream where he talks KDE and he takes questions from IRC at some point.
I suggest that those who are really bothered by changes in v4 to go there. Most projects have ways for comments and suggestions to be heard for upcoming releases, I suggest you take advantage of them.
So far I've made about a dozen or so to various KDE/other projects and about 3 where very popular and were put into later versions.

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Re: Amarok is fine, whiners whine

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.111.229.186] on December 18, 2008 02:18 PM
Songbird isn't an option for you? I really really wish you live up to your words or you are man without 'word of honor'. I hope every time you launch Songbird in the future you will realise over and over again that you are gay.

For Amarok, I hope it will follow Songbird in its UI design-- modern and slick. Feature-wise, I know it's already and always will be excellent. But as everyone knows that today, Beauty is almost everything already.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.184.67.36] on December 13, 2008 08:44 PM
With Amarok 1.X, i could just fill my playlist with all the songs I have, and each time I wanted a special song, with just 3 letters I could filter the playlist (thousands of songs) and find it.

Now I've got to do the same in the Collection, which is cluncky (with the playlist in Amarok 1.X you just jump to the song, no album line or stuff to expand before you get what you want if you typed the album or the artist instead of the song name), then add it to the playlist (it's already there, duh!) and then click on it so you can play it.

It's a tremendous pain in the neck. It's like what dummies do in Windows with Winamp, when you see them open a file manager, scroll/click to the forlder the song it, add it to the playlist, then play it. If I wanted Winamp and inneficiency, I wouldn't have chosen Amarok.

Then there's the shuffle play mode. It messes up the playlist, instead of just jumping to different place, so your playlist is never organised. Worse, since I never close Amarok when I shutdown, each time I reboot I get to hear the same selection of songs, in the same order, again and again.

What's the point?

Then there's indeed the interface. I usually don't mind changing, I understand developpers might be afraid we wouldn't notice the years of work they've poured into the code, so even if it's worse I bite it with a smile.

But there, the playlist is useless. I can't see 20% of the numbers of songs I see with Amarok 1.X. No Artist/CD title/year/lenght easily accessible, where the better interface had them easy to see in a heartbeat. And having columns instead of two might sound like a good idea, until you try it.

Then, there's the position of the playing track (the horizontal progression bar + the volume + the commands). Usability would say it's easily accessible in one of the corners, or at the bottom/top - and it was great in Amarok 1.X. Now, it's not even in the middle (already a really bad choice), you've got to look in the middle, then go a bit above, and you may find it. Then it goes to all the lenght of the screen - great if I'm editing a file with Audacity, but slow and tiresome if I just want a quick way to go where I want.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.241.73.2] on December 15, 2008 11:48 AM
Collection has been hobbled: you can't filter for recently-added tracks easily; no initials-based subfolders, so large collections are much harder to navigate.
Media-device integration, which used to be seamless and intuitive, appears to be pretty much broken: no tooltips, no response from any of the icons.
I personally don't see the utility of the 3-pane layout, and would like the option to remove the dead-space in the middle to display more information on either side, but apparently I can't even resize it to invisibility, since it insists on remaining ~2cm wide.
No convenient ways to activate shuffle or repeat that I can see, nor any visual cues that they are active.
I had assumed this was still a development version I was running, but I've checked, and it's a full 2.0. Fairly disappointing, to be honest.

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 149.149.120.168] on December 17, 2008 09:21 PM
I won't be using the KDE 4.x version (Amarok 2.0) anytime soon b/c my hardware is too old BUT I have got to say that the project folks for this project and several others just get it right. Amarok is hands down the best music player that I have ever used just like Digikam is hands down the best photo albumn that I have ever used. Thank you to all how have contributed. I can't get along well with the KDE 4.x desktop yet (tired it yesterday on a new laptop from work) but I'll warm up to it eventually. Not a fan of Plasmoids yet. Simple icons that I can drag/drop and right-click on are still sufficient for my needs and tastes. Sort of like Vista with took a pretty good version of Windows and made it more capable but more complicated too. I'll come to terms with that too eventually.

So far I'm a Linux Mint Elyssa KDE 3.5.x kind of guy with Amarok 1.x

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 118.93.183.242] on December 20, 2008 01:11 AM
I must say I prefer the "Excel" layout in Amarok 1.4.x, it's a concise way of showing and comparing the info between tracks.

I haven't actually tried Amarok 2 yet, so I have some questions about whether the following features are available in Amarok 2?

- True gapless playback for ogg vorbis and mp3
- True support for vorbisgain and replaygain (not just a hacky workaround in 1.4.x with a script which plays with the volume slider that *I* actually want to control myself)
- Support for arbitrary ogg vorbis tags (in 1.4.x only some common tags are supported, plus they get changed automatically when you toggle the "show under Various artists" option for the album, e.g. the Date tag changes from '1999-12-12' to just '1999' (I entered the extra info for a reason!) and multiple Artist tags are removed so that only the first Artist tag remains (why can't I have more than one artist?))

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Amarok gets a facelift

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.80.174.46] on January 02, 2009 03:26 AM
The best analogy I can think of is this: It's like divorcing your sophisticated, dependable wife and dating a super attactive 20. year old college girl. It was fun for a week but I started to miss the old dependable wifey. So I just un-installed 2.0 and went back to 1.4.

If you want the speed of 2.0 just install MySQL server and update the config on 1.4. I have no doubt that in a year I'll upgrade to 2.0 again once they fix the myriad issues.

If you put a smelly old couch out on your lawn with a big FREE! sign on it, and nobody picks it up, don't be pissed at humanity. Put a better couch on your lawn.

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