Amarok Weekly Newsletter - Issue 3

Rok the hell out of you. (07.12.2006)

Issue 3:

Proposal for a common D-Bus interface for media players

Rafaël Carré from VLC project sent a mail to other media player developers, informing them about recent initiative of creating a common D-Bus-based remote interface for media players:

I've been working recently of a D-Bus control interface for VLC, to permit other applications to interact with VLC.
This implements basic functions such as:
- playback control (Play/Pause/Next..)
- information on medias (Meta-data/Length)
- playlist editing (Add new elements to play)

I've been looking at how other media players already implemented that, and I thought all their interfaces were highly redundant, and could benefit of implementing a single, common, shared interface.

That would let developers use this interface in their programs, and let their users decide of which media player they wanna use. All about FREEDOM.

A developer of bmp-x, Milosz Derezynski, already had this idea more than one year ago, so this is not very new. You can find his work, the MPRIS (Media Player Remote Interface Specification) at http://bmpx.beep-media-player.org/site/MPRIS.

I've copied this specification on the videolan wiki, and modified it to my needs. I tried to keep it as general as possible. However this still needs more work, and comments.

This is why i'm reaching you, developers of some media players, to comment what i've done or work with me, until that specification fulfills your needs, and can be used in a real world.

This specification should stay as generic as possible, because media players that want to make specific methods available with D-Bus can do it through their specific interface.

For example, basic methods would be available on the service org.freedesktop.MediaPlayer and VLC would make streaming methods available on the service org.videolan.vlc. So, a basic control applet for the KDE panel originally written for amarok would be able to control VLC, and a complex pygtk script would control streaming features of VLC.

[...]

Seb Ruiz quickly replied:

Actually, whilst I was in san francisco, I spoke with the xmms2 folks
about the same thing. we totally agreed on the necessity for it.

The discussion about technical details followed.


Displaying both track times in progress bar

A very nice feature has been added lately to Amarok - progress bar displays now both time from the beginning of the track, as well as remaining time. Take a look yourself:


Clicking an any of times swaps their order. Neat!


Visual feedback for adding new items into the playlist

Mark Kretschmann made playlist in Amarok colorful! Read on:

Ok, here is a new idea I'm toying with, inspired by KMail: Whenever new items arrive in the playlist, we draw them in a different color (red currently). This is cool because when you merge two playlists, you have a visual cue that tells you where the new playlist begins.

Well so far this is just 10-minute hack to demonstrate the idea. If people like it, we could develop it further.

It's very usable and currently looks like this:



Colored rating stars

When talking about cool new submissions and colors, we must mention new colored rating stars.
Probably inspired by a forum post, they change color depending on how high the track is rated. Besides helping to distinguish different ratings, they look cool.


New artwork trial

Landy DeField commented the state of artwork for LiveCD release, and talked about refreshed iconset:

Well the artwork for the fastforward Live CD will be considered
completed today. We would like to start the ground work for the next
Live CD release so we can keep it on schedule. We will be reusing some
of the elements that we created this time around for the next release.
This will help establish a sense of branding.
I may take a little time in the next week or so to put together a quick
demonstrate of the power of reusable elements in artwork. I will make an
announcement on the list when I do. It is pretty amazing really. ;)

We have now turned our attention toward the icon theme. We will be
working hard to bring the existing icons to a completed state. We would
also like to add some missing icons as well. If you know of some icons
that are missing from the set please take the time add them to the icon
list. http://rokymotion.pwsp.net/wiki/Icon_List

We already have what we believe could be the "new blue." We will be
adding a preview and download link in the forum shortly. The download
will contain 32px and 22px versions of icons that have been recolored.
Try before you buy baby. :) We hope that a lot of people will
participate in the "true blue trial" and provide some valuable feedback.

Promised link to new icons followed:

As promised here is the post on the forum for the "New Blue Trial"
http://amarok.kde.org/forum/index.php/topic,13394.0.html
The source file and instructions for installation are included in the post.

If you have some spare time, test them, and express your impression on forum.


Cool tips: System tray icon

Gbowden asked on forum how to make Amarok respond to custom actions:

Is there any way to make the amarok tray icon to respond to clicks.
For example click three times on the tray icon and it changes to the next track.

Mark Kretschmann informed him about context menu:

Just right-click the icon, then a menu comes up.

Hans Chen explained some cool features:

Middle click on the tray icon pauses/plays, scrolling changes the volume. Oh right. If you hold down ctrl and scroll the icon, it's the same as rewind/forward.

Adding a non-KDE application launcher to Kicker, and making it execute "dcop amarok player next" is also a nice way of achieving requested functionality.