In this entertaining review, Savanna takes us through her discovery of JuK, a new pearl in the treasure trove of KDE applications. Expect to see JuK ship with KDE 3.2 since it has already made an appearance in the KDE Multimedia module. Kudos to Savanna for taking the time to contribute the review and, of course, hats off to the developers of JuK!
A User's Perspective on JuK
"Juk? What the heck is that?"
"You really should try it."
"But I use XMMS. I love XMMS."
"Well, give it a try. It's sort of like iTunes - a very nice playlist editor."
"Okay, okay...I'll try it out."
And so I did.
That is approximately how the conversation went a few weeks back on the #debian-KDE IRC channel. A person there named "grepper" told me to try it. Grepper knew one thing: I like pretty things. In fact, that is why I like KDE and have since around a year.
I first experienced it when I got a copy of Debian installed on my backup machine. From there, I booted up KDE and started to play around. In about ten seconds flat, I had one of the nicest looking desktops I had ever seen, and I was hooked.
I'm a user, not a programmer. I don't know what makes most things tick in Linux and KDE, nor do I really want to. Only recently, I learned how to upgrade to the latest CVS packages and install an Nvidia driver Debian package without seeing anything but a console line - and without freaking out because I couldn't see a mouse cursor.
Okay, I admit it: I'm a blonde who isn't a techie. I'm learning because it is kind of fun, but I'll only go so far. I know most people who will read this will probably chuckle because this is for a techie site, but it is worth noting that I am a user who has switched her desktop from Microsoft to Linux with KDE. That is a pretty big jump.
So when Grepper talked about my switching from XMMS (comfortingly like a windows application) to Juk (something like a Mac application with lovely KDE tidbits - from my point of view), he knew that I would do so reluctantly.
What a surprise!
Juk is easy. Juk is elegant. Juk is simple.
Juk is awesome.
It opens up as a simple collection list with a space for icons in the left to make more custom playlists with. Nice big icons at the top make it very hard to miss the start/stop/skip functionality of the program. It looks friendly, and it is. Big columns on the right tell you everything you need to know. A search function at the top lets you instantly select things live from the collection list to make your playlist the way you want. A nice little icon in the tray on the Kicker lets you control the application from there as well. You right-click on the left area, create new playlist, name it, and then drag-and-drop from your collection list to your playlist.
You don't need to do anything else: it is that simple.
Every time it opens, it scans your MP3/OGG/Music directories (which you add very easily whenever you like) for any new music files. Alternate light gray and white rows make spotting songs a breeze. A "jump to currently playing song" button on the bottom right makes it really easy to go to where you are, even while you are building more playlists and listening to another. A pop-up track announcement from the Kicker tray with a forward and backward skip button on either side comes up (if you want it) at the change of every song. I find this particularly useful. Right-click on the Kicker tray icon and you get a selection of the standard music player functions. Click on it with the left mouse button, and the entire program pops up. Another click minimizes it once more. There are no flashy player skins from outer space, or separate player displays. This is a simple program which doesn't need many bells or whistles.
Everything is big and friendly.
Big friendly icons make for happy users.
I was hooked. In fact, I was so hooked that after I got the stable version from orth's CVS debs, I switched everything to Juk and no longer use XMMS.
Now, I do miss the XMMS skins, and I had quite a collection, I'll tell you. And I miss the plugins feature for falling asleep and waking up with music - but wheels assures me that this is going to be coded in relatively soon so I'm no longer worried about that.
Other than that, it is a dream come true. There is something to be said for a Mac-design where things are supposed to be friendly and simple for regular users. Juk hits that on the head. I love XMMS but it was sort of tiny on my screen and making a good set of playlists accessible was, at times, kind of annoying. I also like Noatun, but I have some issues with it at the moment - though with the Hayes playlist feature, it was as close to Juk and about as friendly and intuitive as I've ever seen it before (and does have its own very nice merits).
But Juk is...perfect. Well, so far. It screams: "non-coders will use me happily", and that is a good thing.
I love KDE because it is easy to use. Juk follows that example and reminds me, once again, why I run KDE in the first place.