Re: [Rhythmbox-devel] Music player UI

Some thoughts on your design description.

Overall, I like the idea and it will require people to get used to 
the status dock as the primary method interfacing with the application.

Jens mentioned that he's found people confused by using the tray.  I've
seen that on windows as well.  But I generally find that as a failure on how
it was implemented.  Microsoft hides most of the ioons in the system tray
and it's the "out of sight out of mind mentality" at work here.  I think
this solution is workable.

I'm going to assume that "album" could actually consist of different
albums or different tracks from different places rather than a real
album.  I'm saying that because I hardly listen to albums at a time.
I generally like to bring in tracks from various albums.  I think when
you're listening to trance or some of these others you tend to go by album
while if you're listenig to rock you tend to take tracks from different
albums but keep the artist the same.  (or maybe you think you can come
up with a better play list than clearchannel. :)

I think the library part should be broken up into some sort of scheme
that could accomodate both.  A playlist creator and a album browser.
The playlist creator could be nothing more than an enhanced search that
creates a list of music based on simple parameters.

I think your interface though is fine and I think we should at least try it
to see how it works out.  It's definitely more innovative than the current
stuff out there.  Anyways, good work.


On Sun, Feb 23, 2003 at 01:27:20PM +0100, Lars Weber wrote:
> [ Because the following is not strictly Rhythmbox-specific, replies (if
> any) should probably be send to only. ]
> Hi everyone,
> last year November, Jorn Baayen sent the following mail to the Gnome
> usability list asking for comments on the Rhythmbox UI:
> It seems many people will agree (at least to some extend) that the current
> interface of both iTunes and Rhythmbox -- as interesting as the overall
> concept may be -- has several, and in part quite serious, limitations.
> This doesn't mean, of course, that alternative designs have automatically
> fewer problems or that the current interface wouldn't all-in-all make for
> a good enough user experience so that for many users it's the preferable
> choice when compared to other existing music playing software.  It's not
> perfect, however, and therefore I think it's worth to at least think about
> different approaches...
> To me it seems that almost all of the current problems with the interface
> come from the fact that Rhythmbox (like iTunes) uses a single window for
> both the player/playlist and the music library.  Of course, the
> "library-as-a-top-level"-thing is also (I think) one of the biggest
> strengths of the current interface and because of this I started wondering
> whether it might be a solution to:
>   1. separate the library from the player/playlist
>   2. make _only the library_ the main object of user-interaction (for
>      playing music from the library, at least)
>   3. turn the player into a background process (CORBA factory?) with only
>      a status-area icon as it's top-level UI and a playlist-manager as a
>      second-level object.
> >From a user-perspective it might look like this:
> In the most simple case where the user just wants to play an music-file
> lying on his desktop, he double-clicks the file, an icon (let's say a
> note, just like the one currently displayed by rhythmbox) appears in the
> status-area and "the Computer starts playing the song".  When the track
> ends the icon turns to a paused sign and later, after some time of no
> sound-playing activity, the icon again disappears completely.
> At some later point the user might decide to play an Album from the music
> collection on his computer.  To do so he clicks on the Foot-menu and
> selects `Sound & Video -> Music Library'.  After selecting an Album from
> the library (a window that looks surprisingly similar to the current
> Rhythmbox UI) he presses the `Play Album' button (a button right next to
> the `Play Selected Tracks' button; which is grayed out because no tracks
> are currently selected) and again the status-icon appears and "the
> computer starts playing the album".
> After closing the library window and listening to half of the first track
> the user realizes that he heard this exact same song way to often in
> recent times and therefore decides to skip the rest (...the song gets
> rather boring towards the end, anyway).  Therefore, to skip to the next
> track, he context-clicks on the status-icon and selects `Next track'.
> A few seconds later, however, the user is forcefully reminded of the fact
> that the second track on this album just sounded totally awful even when
> listened to the first time.  As he now generally starts to wonder whether
> there were any good tracks remaining on this album he wants to take a look
> at the playlist.  After context-clicking the status icon and selecting
> `Playlist Window', a window opens containing a menubar, a toolbar with a
> handfull of buttons and a playlist with the tracks of the album.
> After looking at the names and realizing that they don't tell him that
> much, the user starts to use the `Forward' button to click through the
> remaining tracks one by one.  Soon he reaches the end of the playlist
> without encountering a single track that seemed worth listening to.  Our
> user, however, is not know to give up so easily and therefore he reaches
> for the `Library' button in the toolbar and, just like when he used `Sound
> & Video -> Music Library' from the Foot-menu before, the library window
> appears.
> Sooo... unless maybe our user died for lack of food or got arrested by the
> RIAA he continues to do the things described above over and over again
> happily until this day.
> --EndOfStory--
> Summary:
>   * Playing music is something that the computer just does.  [ Among other
>     things this means that it would be an error for the playlist to open
>     automatically when music is played because this would spoil the idea! ]
>   * Aside from allowing the user to sort and edit his files, etc. the
>     library is the users primary way of telling the computer what music to
>     play.
>   * The status icon is the computers way of showing the user what it does.
>   * The status icon additionally allows the user to manipulate certain
>     aspects of the computers current state with respect to sound playing.
> Ok, that's basically it.  To not spoil the main point I ignored additional
> features like Radio or CD-handling... so far, however, I did not have any
> problems to imagine ways of how to nicely integrate them.
> Comments?
> Regards,
> Lars
> _______________________________________________
> rhythmbox-devel mailing list


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