Amarok 2.1 – back to the future. (english version)

We (padoca team) are long time Amarok users. We have seen amarok grow and become the best audio player along the 1.x series. We’ve seen the writing on the wall when 2.0 was out, the same promise and potential that embodied Kde 4.0 release.

A rewrite, a new beginning, not perfect at first but full of potential and vision. Sure, some features where sorely missed (like Kde 4.0) but it was needed. In order to be able to make the future envisioned by the amarok dev team, they had to go back… they had to send amarok back in time, and it showed.

Now amarok 2.1 is shaping up in svn, growing, showing his potencial. This is his tale of growth and learning. The future is coming!

So, what’s new within 2.1? A lot!

Lets start with the inner guts, shall we?

  • Amarok 2.1 now suports replaygain (both track and album mode).

    This is one of my favorites aditions. I used to abuse the replaygain script in the 1.x series, and now this great feature is suported natively by amarok 2.1, using a mix of taglib and other magics.
    Till now amarok can READ replaygain tags for pretty much every audio format you can throw at him.
    The devs talked a little of ways of adding write support (reading non tagged files and calculating the replaygain) like a plasmoid and such, but for now, amarokers can use the excelent (kde 3) soundKonverter for writing replaygain tags for their collections.

    Hum? Master… What exactly is “replaygain”?

    Well little grasshoper, have you ever listened to a track, some nice, slow, calm track like enya, only to get your hears blown out from the next prodigy track which had a much higher volume? If you CAN’T hear me, you probably did. So this is what replaygain does, he analyses the tracks and calculates an optimum decibel for each one, so when amarok reads the tracks he knows if he must change the volume to preserve your hearing capabilities.

  • Editable Playlists.

    This one brought some tears to my cold, harsh eyes. You see, i’m a playlist freak, i like to mix and match a lot of info, and the playlist in 2.0.x was, well, cumbersome at best, so when i’ve seen this beauty of modern technology in svn, i almost cryed.

    Now playlists can be costumized using a powerful yet simple editor, and this solution is the best i’ve seen for any player. Don’t believe me? Watch the video and the screenshots.

    The video shows what you can do with the editor.

    This screenshot shows the editor changing the playlist in single track mode (you can also change the playlist in album mode).

  • The current track plasmoid now shows current and favorite tracks.

  • The Last.FM service was completely rewritten and now is the most powerful client for (even more then the oficial one).
    It can now play all the kind of tracks displayed below without a payed account, even My Recomendations and My Radio Station.
    See for yourself.

    Also, the settings now have a way to check if your user and password is correct and even works behind the kde proxy settings.

  • Plasmoid Interface revamp.

    Plasmoids continue to reside in the central space BUT, now instead of being scatered in 4 separate virtual folders, they reside in a single column, and can be switched/choosed with a new taskbar in the lower central window. See the video and screenshot for a better understanding of what i’m talking about.

  • Services Plasmoid.

    This is a very cool idea/plasmoid that was added just a few days ago. When you choose a service, like jamendo, it will connect to the service site and match the info you are choosing with the one you have online, real cool. See screens and video.

    This one shows the service already conected to the jamendo website and showing a track info.

    This one shows the service in “waiting” mode.

  • Amarok has a lot of love to give, and the new love feature for ALL tracks shows he means business. Now amarok loves all tracks, not only ones.

  • Amarok urls.

    Amarok can now load and generate “amarok urls” that allows any “view” to be bookmarked and later retrieved. A protocol handler is also installed that will launch amarok into the correct state, or make amarok show the correct view if already running if such a url is activated system wide.

  • Rants.

    They aren’t exactly rants, we sure liked everything so far, and overall the 2.1 svn already is our player of choice. But, as a long time amarok users we have some ideas/complaints we would like seeing adressed sooner then later. We aren’t going to rant (amarok 1.x had blah blah blah), that’s not the idea, we wan’t to contribute with tips and requests most power user have (and amarok devs are probably aware already, since they are power users too), but without telling them how to do they jobs. Like they’ve proven more then once (the playlist editor is one of many examples) , they know how to implement in the best way possible. So let’s us ask and be given 😉

    1. Separate views.

      Plasmoids are great, playlists are great, colections are great, but we can only have that much screen real estate.
      We think amarok should have separate view for the task the use is doing, somethins like:

      • admin mode for editing/adding plasmoid, adding visualizations (when they come available) and such.
      • play mode with a playlist, visualizations, equalizers, MediaFlow, mashTape and more.
      • colection mode with all colection related stuff, like cover flow administration, picard integration with the tag editor maybe with a plasmoid implementation.
    2. More eye candy.

      Return of the mood bar, return of visualizations, implementation of MediaFlow alike (we’ve seen something like that in the svn before 2.0 was released).
      Eye candy is important and amarok devs are aware of it, but there’s a lot to do, and we’ll see a lot coming out in the next releases, we just wrote this so they don’t forget 😉

    3. More ways to interact with your music, like equalizers and other modern audio goodies (like karaoke).
    4. Insert you wish here… Amarok is one of the best known and exposed open source audio player, wishes are fine, just don’t forget they do it for free. be polite and if you can send patches.
  • Conclusion.

    Amarok 2.1 still will see a LOT of development before the final version. The cheer amount of code thrown around is quite impressive, and for what we can gather so far, amarok 2.1 will probably be the best release ever.
    We just wish some of the rants will be listened and adressed somewhere, somehow.

That’s ALL folks!

26 thoughts on “Amarok 2.1 – back to the future. (english version)

  1. Hi Mark, we from the padoca team are very honored that the all mighty amarok devs took some time to read and appreciate this article.
    We also hope you took the “critics” with a grain of salt and got motivated to think of better s ways to use those amazing plasmoids 🙂

    best regards, and keep up the good work, amarok truly rocks.

  2. I love these kind of articles. Being on the KDE’s trunk (and thus Amarok’s) it is hard to really tell what is new and what has been there for some time.

    For example, the /new/ /new/ playlist was introduced incrementally, so at this point, to me it doesn’t seem like a big change since the previous version at all 🙂

    And these articles are just great reminders, so thank you for that!

  3. As much as I love Amarok2, I’m really enjoying all these new stuff! My only complain is with the plasmoid view.. I think it need *much* more love before people start liking it. Right now, it’s nice, but it doesn’t look clean an polished as many people including me likes in a software..

    Ability to resize the plasmoid and something like Mashtape would be great by the way

  4. MP3 player support? I tried 2.0 and 2.0.7 (I think) and while there was an plasmoid for MP3 players, and an MTP player showed up, the instant you clicked what showed up the player cored. USB type MP3 players never showed up.

    One thing I hope becomes possible, in the currently playing window, or related songs window, or anywhere other than the playlist, and even I still do this sometimes then “Doh” I see another song from the currently playing artist I want to play, I click on it, and in the new version, it simply adds as another entry in the playlist. The idea I would love to see…

    If any song anywhere outside the playlist is clicked.
    If Already in Playlist
    Start playing instantly, don’t add another entry
    Populate in Playlist and start playing instantly.

    Currently, the logic appears to be

    Append to playlist.


  5. Blue!!! Amarok is all about blue! Go to the Amarok website and look at the header, the logo, the fonts, the everything!!! Please bring back more blue. As default as well, all I can say for having this as an option or ‘skin’ is :(. With so much blue in the 1.x series, even the grey looked blue. Switching to Amarok was like walking out of the office and heading to the beach on a sunny summer’s day. It was relaxing and beautiful. Please bring back the beautiful blue. Please, pretty please 🙂 All I can say is blue, blue, blue, blue, blue…

  6. i want a minimalist version as well that will take a small 1 or 2 inch piece of scre3en real estate like Winamp used to do bak when I was on XP.

    I dont need full screen all the time and I detest the whole page Songbird/itunes way of doing things.

    Im using an Ubuntu Dell Mini 9 for the next three weeks and the first thing i did was add VLC, Kopete and Amarok.

  7. Excellent article but, for heavens sake , use a spell checker. This article has the most misspellings I have ever seen in a review.

  8. Shaping up nicely 🙂 but the reason I haven’t switched yet is the patchy Amarok 1.x collection import facility. It just doesn’t work for me, and unfortunately not much is being done in this regard:

    I’ve got accumulated years of ratings, playcounts and the like and I’m not willing to part without them, particularly my ratings as all my playback lists are based around them 🙁 that, and album covers, a big part of my collection is copyleft music for which you won’t find covers in say Amazon.

  9. Quick rants (and quick to solve, I hope) 😉

    1. A bug that has haunted me since amaroK 1.x is the unreliability of the kio_http kioslave managing SHOUTcast radio. Amarok 2 hasn’t changed, unfortunately (I’m still getting the Philoso-crash, tune your radio to Philosomatika, wait, and boom, Amarok is out). Worse, when I look for a radio, I can’t go back to the radio list. The SHOUTcast service is in need of a SERIOUS overhauling.

    2. Graphics. Amarok beta 1 had a beautiful theme. It’s sad that it was scrapped. Also, I really don’t like the overlapping buttons, and I’m not talking about aesthetics: I use a touch screen, and I want to have TOUCHABLE Amarok play buttons. Sure, I can use the buttons in the side of my screen, but when I press Amarok buttons with my fingers, I want space to do it. Please, scrap the overlapping buttons. Think on us, with touchscreens 😉

  10. Hi… really nice to see the ongoing improvements with amarok..
    recently i have been wondering though if it could be expanded to include some serious DJing capabilities? Obviously the amarok basement now provides lots of GUI flexibility and nice cool stuff… now what i’d been thinking of is that especially the nepomuk service could provide some fancy storing of extra track metadata like BPM progression, cue points and probably settings for on-the-fly filters.. storing mixing actions together with the playlist so the mix can be replayed 1:1 … MIDI input support..
    what do you guys think about the odds of turning Amarok 2.3 into a full-fledged live jockeying suite?

  11. Um, in the official client, you don’t need a paid account to play My Recommendations nor My Radio Station.

  12. Support for cuesheets AND replaygain in 2.1? Way to go Amarok devs! These are my two most needed features in Amarok and I’m glad to see the devs addressing this kind of playback issue and not just tinkering with the eyecandy 🙂

    Can’t wait for 2.1, it’s shaping up to be an important release!

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