First up though, we have decided to put a feature freeze in effect starting at the end of this month. This is the first small step towards an eventual release of Amarok 2.0, and hopefully it will help us get it ready sooner rather than later. This also means that we are at the point where bug reports actually start to become useful. More on this in the coming weeks I am sure!
So, whats new in the land of Amarok 2. Lots actually. First of all, I have tried my hand at some small but quite visible modifications to our svg theme, and I personally thinks the results are very promising. I just need to figure out what do do about the volume slider...
And of course, the theme still adjusts itself to the system color theme:
At Magnatune.com, we have been adding free OGG streams along side the existing MP3 streams. Of course Amarok should also benefit from this, so I finally got around to implementing a stream selection GUI. This also allows people with slow or unstable internet connections to select the lo-fi MP3 streams:
I think I can reveal, that as an added bonus, people who decide to purchase one of Magnatune.com's upcoming memberships will be able to enjoy OGG streams in a really nice quality :-)
A lot of work has gone into the Last.fm service and integration. The bulk of the Amarok 2 Last.fm service was originally done by Shane King, but this week there has almost been a competition about who could do the most cool things with the Last.fm service. This however also led to a slight case of "interface wars" as we currently cannot decide between buttons and tree views for the different streams, but I am sure we will figure something out eventually :-) Right now the Last.fm service looks (I am warning you, it is not pretty...) like this:
A really nice feature that was implemented by Dan Meltzer (aka. Hydrogen) is the ability to right click any artist in your local collection and add a Last.fm stream of simmilar artists directly to the playlist:
I have spent some time adding capabilities that will allow any track or stream with special actions that only makes sense when that track or stream is playing to make these actions available throughout the interface. Most notably, when listening to a Last.fm stream it adds the "love", "skip" and "ban" actions to a small sub toolbar next to the play controls:
This small toolbar and the background is completely invisible when playing tracks that do not have any special "now playing" actions. The same actions are also added to the tray menu (and when right clicking the currently playing track in the playlist):
Last.fm is becoming really well integrated, but the great thing about the way it is done is that there is almost no Last.fm specific code anywhere but in the Last.fm plugin, which can be completely disabled. This means that any other service can use the same interface elements to achieve simmilar results. Last.fm is simply the first one to use these capabilities. It also means that Amarok 2 is in no way dependent on Last.fm being available. I think that this independence is very important. It allows us to work with many different services and companies without anyone getting control over the core of Amarok.
And this is personally what I see as the main strong point of Amarok 2. We are positioning ourselves to be able to work with and integrate content and services from a multitude of sources without the fear of what happens if one of these services stops existing, turns horrendously evil, or tries to assert undue influence over the direction of Amarok. And with reports coming in from our crew at CeBIT about the huge interest in Amarok, it looks to be a really interesting future.
Now, if we can just get this 2.0 out the door soon... :-)