Second Day KDE 4 Multimedia Meeting

Though it was still rainy here at the Annahoeve in the Netherlands, the KDE 4 multimedia meeting was definitely up to speed. This article will report on the progress the hackers made yesterday, including the "why" and "what" of redesigning and speeding up amaroK, work on the KIO slaves and Phonon.

We had a quick start in the morning, several people where already busy hacking at 9. The morning was filled with hacking sessions and small get-togethers, and a few hours after lunch, we held a round table with everybody, asking what they had done so far.

Christian Mülhäuser and Seb Ruiz have been working on optimization of amaroK startup time. They gave the context browser a speedup of aproximately 50% and the playlist browser now loads 40-60% faster. Meanwhile, Bart Cerneels was working on the Podcasts. They sometimes have very long names, with a lot of redundancy. He tried to build some code to shorten them, without having to throw away information. And Martin Aumüller made it possible to drag'n'drop files from any KDE application into amaroK. amaroK then adds them to the database, by putting them in a sensible location based on the tags in the file.

Matthias Kretz redesigned large parts of Phonon completely today, after a talk with Thomas Zander (of KOffice fame). He decided to start experimenting with a few internals, which had to lead to a more flexible system. The currently almost stable backend API won't be affected, tough. Talks with the amaroK hackers also prompted him to enhance the communication between applications and Phonon. Christian Esken, who came visit today, has been working with us on Kmix. In cooperation with usability expert Florian Grässle and Matthias, they decided on the implementation of several features. Solid integration went in Kmix, so hotplugging will work in the future version of KMix. Florian also teamed up with Mark Kretschmann to enhance the usability of the script control in amaroK, while our other usability expert, Dan Leinir Jensen Turthra, worked with several other amaroK developers to create the next-generation amaroK interface.

Allan Sandfield Jensen has been working on KIO file seeking (as part of his Google Summer of Code project), and his announcement of a more-or-less working implementation was recieved by a big applause from the other attending hackers. His work will bring the network transparancy of KDE to a whole new level, allowing for easy playing of music over a network or directly editing of movies and pictures on a remote machine.

Ian Monroe and Max Howell have been working on better error messages for the users if there is no mp3 support in the distribution they use. The distribution has to provide a script for amaroK so it can offer the user to automatically install the nessecary codecs. Cooperation has already been promised by Jonathan Riddell from Kubuntu.

A few hours after lunch, the amaroK developers spent considerable time whiteboarding and discussing the basic design of our favorite audio player. This time they went really in-depth, and there was a heavy discussion going on. Thomas has been working with the amaroK developers today on several design and usability issues, and was also involved in the whiteboarding of amaroK 2. An important goal was to design amaroK to become smaller, and thus faster and easier to maintain. By improving amaroK's design, they hope to make it easier to develop things like extensive plugin support. But design-wise this is hard to do and there are serious security-related issues. Aside from the basic design, things like quality control, usability and the “target user” for amaroK have been discussed.

Meanwhile, the developers not involved with the discussion generally used earphones to avoid the discussion and continued to hack away, or talked in small groups. Gabor and Alexandre have been busy porting amaroK to Qt 4, and they got close to getting it to compile.

Slowly but steadily, the discussion dis-integrated, and more beer started to flow in. So, now the whiteboard had been filled enough, dinner was served. After the excellent diner everybody went upstairs again to continue their work or implement some of the stuff that has been discussed.

To wrap things up, this has been an extremely productive day, both in terms of code, design and face-to-face interaction. So, it is past midnight now, so time to get everybody to our hotel in Zundert - we have to be at breakfeast at 8:15...

Since we all love pictures. Sebastian Kügler has put up a gallary of the meeting. Thanks Sebas!

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by Jens (not verified)

Hey ... I don't see what you are getting at. Kaffeine current (0.8.x) is very useable, has a very clean GUI and even receives (and can save) DVB-T streams from any supported device.

See ... I love it. The only thing that doesn't work too well ATM is jumping in MPEG files - there, MPlayer is a little better (doesn't get stuck).


by Frederik (not verified)

I'm using recent SVN check-out, and noticed the new layout in the Amarok browser. Now the information about the playing track (wikipedia artist information, related artists, lyrics,...) are put in a seperate pane above the playlist. Personally I think it's extremely ugly and unpractical.

The contents of the pane (certainly the lyrics and music tab) are clearly more destined to be shown in "portrait" mode than in the new "landscape mode". With the new lay-out, a lot of horizontal space is wasted, while there's not enough vertical space. Now I always have to scroll to see most of the information in the music tab, while otherwise all could fit in the side pane and was always visible. Because of the extra space this pane takes above the playlist, there's much less space remaining for the playlist itself. And when I'm not interested in the information in the pane , it's more work to hide (and later make appear again) the pane. While in the previous lay-out, a click on the tab sufficed, I now have to use my mouse to drag & drop the splitter completely to the top of the window.

Please reconsider this lay-out!

please reconsider looking at it and judging it, once it is finished.


by Max Howell (not verified)

Give us a chance to polish it and you'll prolly be happy. Eg, the context-pane/browser/thing will be redesigned to fit the new width and not look ugly.

And I will be spending time on the aesthetics like usual. Should be as pretty as ever, prolly much more so by next release.

We at amaroK thank you for your faith!

by John Slave (not verified)

I agree..i prefer old layout...however a button to choose layout could resolve the problem..


by César Delgado (not verified)

I prefer the old layout. There should be the possibility to change between both. Some people may be prefered the newest way, I really like the older one. It was great.

So, if want to change the layout, ok, but with the old layout option. Switch between them easily.


by Darkelve (not verified)

At least it's better than having to twist my neck 90 degrees every time I want to read the text on the panes!

by Camel (not verified)


I was just browsing the web and found this project:
It is "an application for viewing and analysing the contents of music audio files". I just thought some people might be interested in it, as it incorporates a nice plug-in system to extract descriptive information from audio data.

By the way, its build upon Qt 4 and is GPL ;-)