Amarok 2.0 Rocks the World

After two years of intense development, Amarok 2 has become a reality! Some of the highlights that are included in the 2.0 release are a completely redesigned user interface, tight integration with online services such as Magnatune, Jamendo, MP3tunes, and Shoutcast. There is an overhauled scripting API and plugin support to allow better integration into Amarok. Much of the work has gone into migration from the KDE 3 to KDE 4 framework using core technologies such as Solid, Phonon, and Plasma. Read more about the new release in the release announcement and start Amaroking!

The user interface has been redesigned to make context information like lyrics and albums from the same artist more accessible and allow the users to decide which information is most important to them by adding applets to the Context View in the middle. The new Biased Playlists offer a way to let Amarok take care of your playlist in an intelligent way similar to Dynamic Playlists in previous versions. A new service framework allows for a tight integration of online services like Jamendo, Magnatune and Ampache. New services can easily be written as a script. More applets and scripts are being worked on and users are welcome to contribute more to make Amarok suit their needs. The migration from the KDE 3 to KDE 4 framework allows to make use of technologies like Plasma, Phonon and Solid which make Amarok easier to use and maintain and ready for the future of music on your computer and on the internet.

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by Aaron Seigo (not verified)

"The "main view" (db | context | playlist) is just too crowded. I doesnt fit at all here and much content is cut out, even on fullscreen,"

Huh, what are you viewing exactly? My screen resolution (and font size) is bigger than what you list ... and yet it's taking up perhaps 60% of my screen. You can move the playlist out, or the sidebar on the left. Would be interesting to see a screenshot of your setup.

by Michael "I'm se... (not verified)

I'm just curious: why does Amarok contain theming capabilities. Certainly, this makes the code more complicated (using non-standard widgets, for instance). Also, and probably more importantly, it makes Amarok look less integrated (non-standard widgets), however blending the default theme may be. I know that this is generally considered mean, but I can't help but compare to Windows Media Player.

Why does Amarok include themes support?

by Mark Kretschmann (not verified)

"Theming" is a bit of a broad term. It usually implies having user selectable themes, which Amarok does not support.

More generally:

I don't think a media player is a typical desktop application, unlike an office word processor or a mail application. People expect a little more "bling" from it, and we try to balance the good looks with the desktop integration you seek.

by Laerte (not verified)

I understand your point of view, but the Amarok widgets seems Oxygen based and don't integrate well with others themes.

The volume and progress bars are (IMO) poor designed, and I don't see a reason why they are not aligned.

But those are minor problems, this is a great .0 release.

by xbullethammer (not verified)

>> ""Theming" is a bit of a broad term. It usually implies having user selectable themes, which Amarok does not support."

Can we expect to see such feature someday? When I saw those theming capabilities on the Amarok GUI I got horny.

Anyways, Thanks to everyone who helped making the best audio player out there!

by Luis (not verified)

I been using KDE 4 since before it was released, and Amarok it's the only true disappointment.

The GUI is amazingly clutter and wrong designed (even if it isn't as bad as it looks), the playlist approach is so awful, it you don't have many songs per album it becomes incredibly clutter.

It has some new amazing features, but it lacks the basic ones! Come on, I can't filter my playlists? What the hell...

Also, as today, the Plasma context view is useless and buggy.

KDE 4.x is awesome, but it lacks a decent media player (well, Dragon Player is good, but its mostly for viewing one video or listening one song and nothing more).

by Lucas Murray (not verified)

I agree completely with this. I do not want to criticize right on release but I do want to make sure the developers are aware (And yes I'll be submitting these to the tracker as well).

- Why are the play buttons so massively huge and do not support removal from the UI? I have buttons on my keyboard, I don't need to waste so much screen real estate to ugly buttons.
- I have large amounts of singles, the current playlist is _completely_ (And I mean that) unusable when used with them. There is absolutely no graphical difference between an album name and a track name and due to the wasted vertical space I am forced to scroll more.
- Where's playlist search? Why can't I use my playlist like I have been able to in other programs over the last decade? How do I use this new system?
- Why can't I remove the Plasma area? I never use anything that's in it and whenever I resize it to nothing it just comes back after I minimize the window.

'Grats on the big release!

by Bobby (not verified)

It's hard to please all the people all the time. I personally like the UI, well playlist search could make things better but this is not the end of the world so let's just be patient and support the devs. We will all get our favorite features in due time :)

Actually, all these years, you wanted to use juk, and not amarok. But for some reason, you decided amarok was the player for you, and you coaxed it into resembling something it was not meant to be.

Amarok was always about putting music in context, with information, lyrics and stuff. It never was about having a great huge playlist with all your songs. That is what juk and xmms are about.

The integration with web services is excellent, and I use it all the time. I do miss some of thy dynamic playlist modes (getting new songs similar to the one playing, for example), But amarok 2 is like KDE 4 a huge step forward in terms of smooth experience and beauty.

On a side note, I think the reason people mis-used amarok this long was that xine as a backend allowed nice playback, whereas juk being tied to arts inherited all its problems. Amusingly though, for me, the akode backend was the only amarok 1 backend that worked reliably -- and it was not supported, so I had to track changes in svn to keep it compiling :)

by Xiong Chiamiov (not verified)

As stated in another thread, wanting to have a large playlist and having all of your music in one playlist are not the same thing. Amarok's method of queueing tracks is much more powerful than the iTunes-style (like JuK), not to mention all of the other things that make amarok amarok, rather than some other player. A dislike of one feature does not necessarily override the appreciation of many others.

as a follow-up to point (2) The early development snapshots had the ability to collapse the individual songs thus hid album art etc. thus saving vertical space.

What happened to it.

3) All the other media players that I know have some sort of filtering as you type that works in the playlists. I generally find this to be quite a big omission. I used to have large playlists in Amarok 1.4 and it was nice due to the ability to filter.

Now I have to have short playlists, then search the left hand bar, then drag it to the pud or playlist, then scroll the playlist (somewhat related to (2) then I can play the song/album etc I want.

4) The plasma area is neat and it will only get better but there really should be the option of hiding it.

Other than that I quite like it. Especially the integration with web services

by hgj (not verified)

... just use Amarok 1.4.10. (it runs under KDE4, KDE3, Gnome, XFCE, ...)

Amarok 1.4 just works incredible well, for me I don't see any reason to downgrade(!) to Amarok 2.

by Luis (not verified)

I, sincerely, started using Banshee, 1.4 feels very outdated (but it was awesome in its time).

by hgj (not verified)

What feature do you miss in Amarok 1.4.10?

by Luis (not verified)

I like Banshee video library, how you can browse by album covers, the way recommendations are implemented, and, basely, pure GUI stuff.

However, I miss from Amarok the SQLite database and from Amarok 2 the Jamendo "store".

by Xiong Chiamiov (not verified)

Although many of us have our complaints, I don't think most would categorize amarok 2 as a "downgrade". Vista from XP, yes, the new, perhaps, but amarok 2, no.

by Janne (not verified)

I must say that I agree with this comment. I keep on looking at the screenshots, and I'm just utterly confused. I have no idea what's going on. Everything is so cluttered and confusing.

Say what you will about iTunes, but they got the UI right. It's simple and efficient. And somehow Banshee manages to be very simple and clean as well:

For comparison: Amarok 2.0:

Please, for all that is good and holy, make the UI a top priority in 2.1! Feature-wise Amarok already has everything you need (apart from the few features that went missing in 2.0), what needs A LOT of work is how those features are presented. You don't HAVE to show the user EVERYTHING at once. How can Apple have a jukebox that also has a store, video-playback, playlists, ratings, albums and what have you, but still they manage to have an UI that is about order of magnitude simpler and cleaner?

Are there any clean and simple jukeboxes for KDE? Is Juk still maintained? Because as far as Amarok is concerned, it seems to be getting more and more comoplicated all the time, with more and more confusing UI. It's starting to feel that using Amarok for playing back your music is more or less similar to using Boeing 747 for your daily 40 kilometer commute....

by Morty (not verified)

Rather than judging usability from screenshots yoy should actually try using the application. It's rater slick and simple to use.

Juk is maintained and still a part of the official KDE multimedia package.

by Janne (not verified)

"Rather than judging usability from screenshots yoy should actually try using the application. It's rater slick and simple to use."

Screenshots is what most people are going to use to judge the software. And if the screenshots do not reflect what the app is actually like, why are those screenshots being used to promote the software?

So you are complaining against marketing, not usability. Really, I for one thought that A2 was an UI mess, but when I tried te 2nd beta I think, I changed my mind, completely

by T. J. Brumfield (not verified)

I can't stand the UI in iTunes.

Navigating to artists/songs/albums to make a playlist is a chore. Heck, I'd take WMP over iTunes and that is saying something.

by Cristian (not verified)

I don't have a problem with Amarok's UI. Instead I find it baffling to see how sluggish and buggy this app is: taking 4 hours to build a collection of 11000 songs isn't okay, as isn't taking 2 minutes to bring up a playlist with 5000 songs. Not to mention the seemingly random crashes, or crashing on trying to guess tags from a song's name. It just feels like a beta app, really. JuK and Rhythmbox work fast, just how I want them to. Amarok 1.4 was no star either, but even it feels better than 2.0. Honestly, I just start the whole thing over again, it's that bad, I feel.

by Huaaa (not verified)

Congrats to devs!! Awesome work!!again YOU ROCK!

I do have these two weird issues though. One of them is that i cant seeks .flac files with phonon-xine-backend...odd...(Gstreamer makes this ear-killing scratching) and other one is that it doesn't save my "layout" settings. I like to keep it with just the middle and the right one (looking a little bit like Amarok 1.x), but everytime i restart Amarok it "pushes" the left "panel" and sort of ruins that setup by changing the sizes and so on...

I also miss osd :'( it's just so much fun to watch...bouncing with the music and all... ;D any idea when phonon dudes/chicks "lets" you have it?

by Mark Kretschmann (not verified)

This thread explains how to get seeking work with FLAC and xine:

by Ostsol (not verified)

1) Custom collection grouping. I like my collection grouped by Genre->Album. I couldn't care less about grouping it by artist and now the only way I can get it the way I want is to set all my songs' artists to NULL or something like that.

2) Stop after this track is finished. I loved this feature of Amarok 1.x. I often listen to music while web browsing and when I come across a video I want to watch, I generally also do not want to stop my music until the current track is finished, so I use this feature and when the music automatically stops I start up the video.

by Dan (not verified)

Well, both of those features will return, so don't you worry!

by Stephan (not verified)

IMHO the new GUI simply sucks!

The problem I have with it is, that, for me!, there is absolutely no need for the middle / context column which occupies the most space and is, apparently, impossible to get rid of and the actual playlist shows barely no information and needs 2 lines if songs are from different artists.

Now that wouldn't be any problem at all if you (the Amarok devs) hadn't repeatedly said that you have no intention to change this.

So let me propose another solution:

1. The title of the currently playing song gets moved above the progress bar.

2. The rest of the context column gets moved into a separate tab.

3. The playlist gets extended over the middle column and get its old, "excel" style, appearance which shows track name, length, album, artist and so on.

4. The left column shows the album cover on top and other albums from the same artist listed bellow (I use this & the ability to filter playlists all the time)

Now, as you might noticed, this describes the Amarok 1.4 user interface. Flame me all the way to hell & back but IMHO it is lightyears ahead of what is in Amarok 2.

OR: Since layout / appearance is a matter of taste and one shouldn't argue about taste: Since you already started to use plasmoids inside Amarok: How about you continue down this road and make the whole interface consist of plasmoids which can be configured & placed where one prefers them?

E.g. a "Show album cover" one and a "List collection information" which can be filtered to Artists, Albums, Tracks, Genres and so on. If you then add the ability to somehow connect those plasmoids - e.g. 2 "List collection information" plasmoids, one shows artists and one shows albums and selecting a different artist triggers listing the albums of the just selected artist in the other one - one can simply create ones personal interface of choice and everyone is happy. Of course we would also need a "Playlist" plasmoid which can show any tag as column one wants.

IMHO the plasmoid way would be the best since it would have the power to make everyone happy (regarding the gui) and would be easily extendable (just like the desktop currently starts to show).

Therefore, _please_ give it a thought!

by Sebastian (not verified)

(1) Why does Amarok always need to implement its own widget styles?

I really do NOT like the progressbar and the volume bar in Amarok. The one from Oxygen/Bespin just looks much better.

And I also do NOT like the vertical buttons on the left hand side. again: The native vertical buttons are MUCH better.

(2) Amarok2 has the same big "bug" in the interface as Amarok1.4:
The left pane is too small for many options (at least in German). If I activate "Wiedergabelisten" ("Playlists"), then the widget in the left pane wants to cover hald of the whole window (obviously it covers only a third and, thus, has scrollbars!) Ugly and really not very usable.

Sorry - I really liked the very first versions of amarok - but since 1.4 I frequently started using JuK!!

by Nikolaj Hald Nielsen (not verified)

JuK caters to a very different usage scenario than Amarok as it is based almost entirely around searching in the playlist.

As Amarok cannot possibly be everything to everyone, I actually have no qualms about recommending JuK to people whose usage pattern just does not fit well with Amarok. :-)

by Sebastian (not verified)

Well - JuK is polished, amaroK not (at least at the mentioned points). Therefore, I learned to use the other one...

by jospoortvliet (not verified)

Then again, Juk didn't go through a major redesign last year... Just wait for Amarok to get it's capabilities and flexibility back. Using Juk is totally OK, btw ;-)

by Bobby (not verified)

To each his own. Juk has a simple interface and isn't complicated but it doesn't really cater for online people like me.
Amarok is simply the best and even though Amarok 2 doesn't satisfy the needs and taste of everyone (no media player can), it's more poised at a broader masses that Juk and it's prettier, at least to my taste.

by Sebastian (not verified)

I did not want to flame Amarok, nor praise JuK. i am sorry if this impression got evident. I just listed some bugging properties of Amarok's interface...

by Bobby (not verified)

Actually I didn't get the impression that your are flaming. I know you by now. We all have different tastes, preferences and priorities within our use of every programme, which of course we are free to express. We wouldn't have such a great variety and choices otherwise.

by Mark Kretschmann (not verified)

It's perfectly fine that you prefer JuK. I've used it sometimes myself and I have to say that JuK is a very well made application.

It also happens that we're pretty much friends with the JuK developers (at least I know Scott Wheeler personally, and he's a great guy), and Amarok even uses an excellent library (TagLib) which was originally written for JuK.

So, no problems there, everyone can be happy :)

by Stephan (not verified)

Which doesn't address anything I said in the slightest bit ...

And no, currently I can't be happy because the stuff that made Amarok 1.4 a great music player and a great tool to manage my collection is missing in v2.0. And in exchange I got that middle context column I have absolutely no need for (which would be perfectly ok if it would be _possible_ to put it in another tab) and which takes up most of my screens real estate instead of letting me use it for something I actually need / want - e.g. a detailed playlist.

Again, I have no problem if that is just the default layout _IF_ it can be changed . So, to put this question short:

Do you (the Amarok developers) still have no plans to make that column optional?

I'm sorry if this sounds impolite but currently I'm kinda desperate cause I really love Amarok 1.4 but most of the stuff I love / need / use is gone from v2 and it wont return (if earlier blog entries are still valid).

Once again: Please consider using plasmoids for _all_ of the user interface. This way it would be configurable and everyone could create ones prefered layout. Or even write ones own plasmoids so it can be easily extended as well.

by hmmm (not verified)

See, there is a music player that corresponds to what you ask! In KDE! By default!

It is Juk. Juk is meant to have one big playlist with all your songs. This is what you want, so use the program which does things your way instead of whining!

Some of us want a music player that puts music in context. This is what amarok does. Some of us want seamless integration with community music sites. This is what amarok does.

Some of us want a big playlist with all their songs, this is what juk does, juk is the default also because it caters to users who have simpler needs.

So instead of asking (not even nicely) people to do something they don't want to (because it is ALREADY done, and they want to do something innovative) JUST LOOK INTO YOUR BLOODY K-MENU AND TRY OUT PLAYERS UNTIL YOU FIND ONE WHICH SUITS YOU.

Juk actually was better suited to your "needs" right from the start. Of course it is simpler to insult people than applying intelligence... Or say even look randomly.

by Stephan (not verified)

1. I know Juk and it is not what I want. That is why I use Amarok and am very happy with it (also cause it doesn't force all those "community" things right in my face but lets me enable or disable them depending on my preferences. And that's how it should be IMHO).

2. I wasn't under the impression that asking to make something optional which I don't need and simply, for me, is a waste of screen real estate (and, according to the overall feedback I'm not alone with that) is an insult.

Perhaps it could have been put down in a better way but english isn't my mother tongue and neither was it my intention to insult anyone nor do I think I did this.

So, thank you for addressing anything I said and not running the usual "It's free and therefore you aren't allowed to criticize it" aka "Everything except praising is whining which is forbidden" crap ...

by Xiong Chiamiov (not verified)

You will notice that he asked for a playlist that has more information. While JuK most certainly does that, it displays *all* of your music in one playlist (which you pointed out), which is one of the great things that amarok does _not_ do, allowing for much more flexibility in creating a list of music to listen to.

I understand Stephan's sentiments very much, as I have many similar feelings from what I've seen of amarok2 (I have not yet tried it out, so keep that in mind while reading what I have to say).

First, I am incredibly tied to amarok because of it's support for "Various Artist" grouping. While I originally did not like amarok's UI (as I was used to the winamp-style 3-panel interface), I couldn't find anything else that would handle compilation albums correctly. I have, among other things, the entire archives of Over-Clocked Remix and Remix.Kwed.Org, which pollute my artist listing so much that I cannot browse my music by artist in any other player. So then, understand that that one feature by itself prevents me from switching to anything else, although there are quite a few other very nice things I enjoy about amarok.

The so-named "Excel-interface" allows me to quickly process my playlist visually. I can, at a glance, see the distinction between artists, albums and song ratings. From the screenshots, it looks like less of this information is displayed, and while albums and artists are very visually distinguished, the fact that each song gets 2 lines (if it is not adjacent to another song by the same artist) cuts down my "visual grepping" ability significantly. The fact that the left alignment of track names differs depending on the presence of an album cover, or whether adjacent tracks are in the same album, (as seen in screenshot #2 on the screenies page) is just another little annoyance.

I am a heavy user of (as well as Pandora, and an occasional buyer of music from Magnatune), so I *like* the integration with so-called "community music" sites. However, I am willing to sacrifice a click or two to get most of that information for the sake of my playlist, as the latter is what I spend most of my time looking at. The same goes for the lyrics.

Now, I most certainly don't expect everyone to have the same preferences as me. As the OP stated, "appearance is a matter of taste and one shouldn't argue about taste". Of course, any project has to choose a direction to head in. The fact of the matter, though, is that there really is no other media organizer that can compare to amarok in terms of features. If you want a lightweight player, then amarok is not a good choice for you, but it most certainly is powerful, and the number of GNOME (or rather, non-KDE) users who use amarok as their media player is proof of that. Just the fact that it is developed primarily for Linux is bound to lead to more complaints about the interface, and such, and we are used to having many, many choices for everything, and being able to customize [application] if we don't like any of the presets. I have a feeling there are many Linux users who, like me, cannot give up using Firefox, no matter how bloated it gets, simply because they have installed an incredible number of addons that they cannot live without.

Now, I'm sure I've forgotten whatever I was originally trying to say, but I want to make it clear that not all of us who disapprove of _parts_ of the new interface are nay-sayers who shouldn't be using amarok. I really, *really* like amarok; in fact, it's one of my top 5 applications. I'm also very excited about the new features in a2, but I'm holding back a little until it becomes a player that I won't dislike, because I really don't want to dislike it. I'm hopeful, though, from reading some of the dev's comments, that it won't be like KDE4 - pretty, but without any of the customization that we've gotten used to (read Machiavelli?). In fact, KDE4's interface drives me so nuts that it started me on a search for another wm to use (ended up with awesome), although I still use mostly KDE applications, because everything besides Plasma ended up really nice!

So, devs, don't take any of this criticism hard. We criticize because we love. :)

by jospoortvliet (not verified)

Note that Amarok 2.0 is just the beginning - using plasma for the whole interface is actually something they'd love to do, but currently the infrastructure (, graphics drivers, Qt and KDElibs/Plasma) don't allow it. In time, it'll probably happen.

by Dan (not verified)

This is utterly wrong, by the way.

We've only theorized, one afternoon, about the possiblity of making amarok one graphicsview and allowing for configuration of everything. We pretty much nixed this because we really don't want to develop a lego ui, and the work to implement this would be extreme to satisfy only a small subset of power users.

The infrastructure was not a problem with this idea at all, actually.

by Joergen Ramskov (not verified)

Congrats on the release. Looking forward to trying it!

by Matthias (not verified)

It's seems to me a bit that "oh no the awful GUI" bashing is rather hip, so I counter with "I really _LIKE_ the new GUI, so AmaROCK-ON you Dev-Guys!!!!!"

by Evan "JabberWok... (not verified)

Wow, that's an ugly baby!

Holy hell, I hate your new car!

You bought *that* house??!?!

Your novel *sucks*!

Your genitals make me laugh!

...anybody have any more? I mean, there's feedback, and then there's crushing souls, and clearly the Dot's comments has moved into "the last year of your life that you gave up to craft something free to the public is worthy of nothing but derision" territory.

Thank you for the nice write up, Lydia.

by Jennifer Cato (not verified)

I tried the new Amarok 2 and found it to be much inferior to the older version.
Amarok 2 is harder to use and lacks many features of the older version.
I couldn't import years worth of playlists, no equalizer, couldn't rip or burn an audio CD among my numerous complaints with it.

by Judd Baileys (not verified)

it's the very first release of a major rewrite, a redevelopment for the KDE community that occured whilst KDE4 was still being finalised (API Changes, code changes, etc. etc.)
Not all features are in this version as there is in 1.4, but the mere fact they've managed to release something this quickly, so soon after KDE4 was released is a massive achievement. It's the first release, and I am sure they know more than anyone what work lays ahead. As for me, I am so very thankful that there has been developers who have worked so hard to bring us this release, and I know from past experience, the Amarok team will make future releases of Amarok something the entire KDE community will be proud of.
Thankyou developers, for making my KDE experience so much better.

by Gareth (not verified)

To all the whiners, i give you this... its a quote that comes up in my bugzilla searches :D

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood" - Theodore Roosevelt

So to the people that feel the need to whine and complain about something that they get for free, without ever putting themselves on the line and giving something back................... well you get the idea

by Anon (not verified) there really no chance that the missing "outdated" features which didn't make it into Amarok2 and are not intended to be included any more (searchable playlist and stuff) will be implemented? It seems the official party line in this case is "use juK", but I'd rather like a amarok 1.4 brought up to KDE4 standards...

Please please Amarok devs! Maybe then I'll begin to donate again... seems fund raising is not going as well as it did in former times...

by Morty (not verified)

It's not a party line. Since when the complainers are asked what their problem are, in most cases their explenation end up describing Juk. It's alll about pointing the user to the correct tool.

by Larx (not verified)

Nobody's talking about JuK, but about Amarok 1.4-features. I'd like to have the new features of Amarok 2, the eyecandy a la KDE 4, together with the cleaned-up and easy-to-use, powerful interface of Amarok 1.4. Yes, JuK has a clean and non-cluttered playlist-based interface. But it lacks, compared to Amarok, lots of features I like.

Don't you guys realize, that even if programming is done in your spare time, the complaining users are your "customers", and if asked to vote with their feet against Amarok (as you do with saying "use JuK and don't whine"), the "customers" maybe will do that?!

I really don't like the attitude which seems to prevail in some KDE4-projects nowadays, in which users complaining about the developments in their favorite programs are more or less told to "shut up".

At least KDE4 is finally shaping up and K3B and Digikam are, even in their KDE4 incarnation, still the apps I like, so this seems to be possible.