383 - Bluefunk–Not-Actually-Muine

J mentioned it in the sidebar: Bluefunk is coming to look somewhat like Muine. Is this intentional on my part? As with many things, in some ways it is, and in some ways it isn’t. Before I started work on Bluefunk, I used Muine. I believe Muine has a far better interface than iTunes, Rhythmbox et al. Jorn has really thought about how most people listen to music and reproduced it on a computer.

When I listen to CDs, I’ll listen to an album, then get up and choose another, and so on. This is how Muine works; aside from you can queue up several albums so you don’t have to keep getting up to swap discs and you can use the computer to do the searching rather than having to worry about digging down the back of the settee. In other words, use the computer to make it easier to do what we do already.

I wanted to try and capture this idea in Bluefunk. I’ve always believed in a playlist similar to Muine and Bluefunk’s; requests for this kind of playlist are always appearing on the Rhythmbox mailing list. The way Rhythmbox works makes a “Now Playing”-style playlist hard to implement without breaking some portion of the phors that RB model-of-usage is based upon.

I see the iTunes/RB approach as the Programmers approach: what things could you possibly do with all this -data available about the music in your collection? We’ll let you sort in a million different ways, search through all data we have, try and present as much as possible to you on the screen — the we can do it, so we should school of thought. Look at a copy of iTunes, however, and everyone seems to have the old artist/album sort pattern. The power is misplaced, you simply don’t tend to listen to music in genre/track number/album sort order. The interface also make it very difficult to queue up multiple artists or albums up for playing and then forget about.

So, why don’t I just use Muine? Muine offers a good view on a well-tagged, neatly arranged collection. Many of my music files, however, are a downloaded, randomly tagged, mish-mash of files. This tends to really screw around with Muine. I decided to take the bit of Muine I liked — the way the playlist is displayed — and combine it with the way I wanted to manage my music. Sometimes I want to put files from the file-system, sometimes for a library, sometimes from a list of albums (Muine-style). The aim of Bluefunk is to make it possible to do this in a single program without making the UI over-complicated or introducing extraneous clutter.

To this end, the file-system view is just a tree. Queue a folder or tracks, then listen to them. There’s no reason to provide file icons, file size details or and other details. Just the information useful in choosing music to play is presented. When the details of the library are sorted out, I might try a treeview representation of that in an Artist/Album type hierarchy. And perhaps I’ll have little album covers by the albums, just like Muine.

I like Muine’s style, but I like Bluefunk’s intended substance even better. Hopefully my coding skills, along with those of my fellow developers, will be up to the task.

Update : I wrote the final paragraph late last night, and perhaps it seems like I’m saying Muine merely has style. I’d like to clarify this isn’t the case at all, it’s just Muine’s substance isn’t Bluefunk’s substance, and Bluefunk is more suited to me.

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