Re: [Rhythmbox-devel] Music player UI

I'm new to the list, not a developer, just an end-user with an interest in 
where the project is heading, and wanted to throw my 2 cents into this. In 
short, I think its a great idea... essentially making rhythmbox, from a user 
perspective, stop being a "music player" and become instead a "music 
library," with music playing being something that the os 'just does.' This 
interface would fit perfectly I think, the way that I, personally, listen to 
music. However, there are some pitfalls I think that need to be avoided, as 
this interface paradigm will only work if the user gets it, I think there is 
a large chance that the average windows user may never even launch the 
library, being prejudiced against the library based paradigm, due to most 
prior such players (especially on windows) having sucked for various 
reasons... they will instead navigate in nautilus to their mp3 folders to 
launch their files, see the notification area playback, and just think 
"gnome's built in mp3 player is very minimalistic," and go and download XMMS. 
I think the way to avoid this is to put a LOT of carful consideration into 
the design of the notification area applet. Some specific points on this:

-Its already been pointed out that some people may not even notice the 
notification area icon. One way to combat this is to have it pop up a baloon 
help style infobox when the player state changes (i.e. a song is added, 
either from the library, or from double clicking in nautilus) which shows the 
song meta data, and perhaps playlist status ("song 4/12")

-one disadvantage of this whole style UI vs a winamp/XMMS style is that in the 
latter you can have your play/pause/prev/next controls always visible, 
accessible with a single click. Right clicking and selecting Next or whatever 
from a veritically aligned popup list of actions is very awkward 
comparitively. My suggestion is to have the playlist window (or whatever 
we're calling the window that is launched from acting on the notification 
area applet) include along the bottom a horizontal row of the standard 
play/pause/next buttons, and make sure this window pops up right above the 
notifcation area - since thats where you have to click to open it...  you 
want them to feel like parts of the same thing, rather than the playlist 
being a program that gets launched by clicking the notification area icon.

-the player/playlist needs to 'tease' the library to encourage people to use 
it... and not just a "view library" button, but something along the lines of 
"other albums by this artist" which launches the library at the appropriate 

-of course, the prior point doesn't really help much if the user has never 
added anything to their library... there needs to be some kind of creative 
way to force/encourage users to build a library. Unfortunately, I don't 
really have any bright ideas on this point... it seems the best way would be 
to have gnome force it as a firstboot kind of thing, although I realize thats 
probably not going to happen.

I had some other ideas I was going to bring up, but I've forgotten them now.

On Sunday 23 February 2003 04:27, 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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