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I’m excited

Album art media view ideas

I think that the album art grid view in iTunes is a great way to display your library, but it doesn't always feel right, so I wanted to make some suggestions for Songbird media views. I photoshopped these pictures to show what I'm talking about.
The problem with the album media view in iTunes is that albums by each artist aren't identifiably grouped together, so they end up feeling too stuck in an endless grid. To fix that, I think they should be bunched together by artist, which is how the brain seems to naturally group them, like this:

I think they look natural sort of scattered around like that, but it would be fine if they were straightened up as well; as long as albums by the same artist are close to one another and have some separation from other groups. I think that if you mouse over the album cover, it should come in front of others that may cover it up, and the album name should be displayed under it. The album Medúlla here is an example of this.

I think the problem with the artist grid view in iTunes is that each artist is just represented by a single album cover, so I find that it can be hard to visually distinguish artists and get an idea of how many albums they actually have. To fix this, I think showing artists as a stack of their albums makes them easier to distinguish:

Mousing over the stack or clicking it could possibly make the albums fan out.
I have some other ideas for media views, but these are the best I have thought of yet and I think they would feel like natural ways of viewing your library.
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  • I’m inspired
    Ooh! I like this! Especially the relaxed feel of the scattered albums...as you said, very natural. With some cool views like these, Songbird will have even more to trump Itunes :)
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  • CHAMP
    I’m dreaming about songbird
    3
    This is a more organized version of the first. I still like the scattered one better though : )

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  • I just made this. I think it would be a great media view for organizing by artist.

    I also added the alphabet to the side so you could click a letter and scroll to an artist faster. iPod touches do something like this, so I'm surprised that iTunes doesn't because it seems like it would really help.
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  • I’m philosophising
    I think these would be a great way to view the library, especially the messy floor and the more organized version. Something that always bugged me with the Itunes library is how many steps it takes to actually get to the songs. Your idea would work very well with the Cover Flow design, where once an album is chosen, it flips around and does not take you away from your library into an isolated, grid list. Maybe the Songbird team could make something like that someday.
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  • CHAMP
    I’m still thinking
    6
    I keep trying out ideas to find the best media view. I made this one today because I realized that having the album covers displayed equally in a grid solves a lot of problems with spacing them out; for example, with the overlapping-covers idea I posted before, when the artist runs onto the next row, a full cover would have to be shown again.
    But I still tried to improve the grid from what iTunes and the Songbird addons do right now by separating albums by artist. It isn't a very drastic change from the way they are now, but I think that distinguishing artists like this would be useful. I also incorporated the letters into the scroll bar to help you scroll through the library to find artists quickly.

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  • iTunes was updated tonight, and I don't know if this is a new feature, but I just noticed it so it is new to me: you can go to View and click on Group Albums to get them so they do sort by artist.



    I think this method is good, but it doesn't make very good use of space. I still think the last one I posted might be more effective in terms of separating artists and making use of the space inside of the program.
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  • I’m excited
    2
    Yepp that looks good, the second picture in your first post is nearly exactly how WIndows Media Player displays it when clicking "artists" on the left tab in WMP. WMP is probably the best player for browsing your music (yes in my oppinion more than iTunes) but lacks in many other ways, with this idea and adding some other nifty browsing features in WMP found (normaly) in the left tab into Songbird would surely help make Songbird become the ultimate player.
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  • These ideas are all great, but so hard to do.
    I have seen so many Add-ons trying to handle Album-Art, they are okay, but ALL of them (Griddy, AlbumView, MediaFlow, Spotbird,...) have a really big problem with performance.
    So instead of going for such fancy Album-Views, I would prefer to have the existing ones improved their performance, first. When somebody has figured out a way to handle album art with good performance, THEN I would love to see Murphys ideas implemented.
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  • I’m really confident
    i like this idea very much, but i'd also be very happy if mediaflow and griddy could improve their performances.
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  • I've noticed lately that when you use an album grid view a lot you start to forget about certain artists in the library, so I wanted to make a mock up for a view that would give more attention to artists. I was thinking about how it is fun seeing pictures of the artists you listen to on last.fm, and how certain media views for Songbird such as Catalogue View and ♪Photo already make use of them, and I got this idea.



    It would need to be able to crop the pictures to a certain ratio like last.fm does when it displays artist pictures on your profile page. I think having artist pictures would make it a lot more fun to browse through your library. I especially liked the idea of having the artist column take up more vertical room, rather than how short it is made in the default filter views of Songbird and iTunes, because you usually have a long list of artists but don't need as much vertical space for albums or songs. Unfortunately, this configuration isn't possible using the Customize Filter Pane addon either. I made a mock up of what it would look like without artist pictures for people who might want to keep it simpler.

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  • CHAMP
    I’m hoping people don't mind these frequent updates
    2
    Thank you goliath, it's my favorite too. I'm hopeful that more exciting media views will be made eventually, and some of these mockups will give people ideas. That, or I will just learn how to actually make media views instead of spending so much time photoshopping pretty pictures :P.
    I made some improvements to the latest idea because I think it has a lot of potential. This updated version shows what it would look like to have smaller artist images, so you can view many more artists at a time. I changed the album filter from a grid view to a list view so the filters are match better. Finally, I added "Image" and "Cover" columns to the top of each header, suggesting that you would be able to resize them to resize the artist images or album covers (this is how iTunes lets you resize the album art in the song list).



    And for once the scroll bars actually make sense.
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  • 4
    I really like a lot of these ideas! I think I'm going to try making several of these. I'm starting with a combination of and (I will look like the 2nd when everything is expanded).
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    • Tell me about it :).
      Thank you so much for considering them, johnm. I hope to learn more about making media views this summer and maybe I will be able to help out. And of course, I will post more ideas as I think of them.
    • I've been a fan of this topic for a while, and I think it just hit me that this particular feature, the expandable stacks view could have some cool features. I think it would be good is one click on a stack expanded only that stack. that way you could see that artist's individual albums. It could also show how many tracks are in each album (just a number in parenthesis after the album name?) and clicking on an individual album will play just that album. There could be a play button on a stack to play only that artist, and then a full expand button to expand all of the stacks.

      I don't know if you had already considered any of these, but I would love that view.
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  • CHAMP
    I’m thankful
    Now this is a sign of a well developed add-on...

    Look at that memory dump during the artwork loading. beautiful.

    You rock johnm!
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  • I’m excited
    3
    This is the best album view so far!!

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  • When songbird integrates gecko 1.9.1 of ff 3.5, than we could use the -moz-transorm for some of this views (like the very first one), would be useful.

    There are really some very good media views in it. I'm going to try to develop one of them.
    • That sounds really neat. I don't know how to code much- just a little Flash from taking programming in high school, but I love hearing about new coding technologies and how they help people code things more easily. I can't wait to see what will be possible with the new version of gecko and when Jetpack takes off! I just watched the demonstration video of google Wave last night and I just feel like technology is really becoming so much fun.

      And thank you for trying to develop one. I am so excited that some of these ideas might actually help people design media views.
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  • A new music program for OSX called ecoute was recently released, and I thought its media view was neat and worth sharing. My favorite part about it is how the the artist column is tall like in this mockup; it just feels right seeing your artists in a longer list instead of a stubby one. It also has the album art next to the album names, which I think is the best way to utilize album art in a media view.



    There is no song list showing because it fills the window after you select an album. I might prefer that the program have a pane always showing with the song list instead of navigating to it, but I still think it is a great interface to use and I wish that some Songbird media views were so simple.
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  • I haven't made anything in a while, but I saw this interface mockup by a man named Laurent Baumann the other day, and it inspired me to make something new. It's more of my vision of the perfect music program than it is a media view, but in any case, I tried to do something new with the media view so I figured I would post it here. I posted a full explanation of it on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/40804119...



    Double clicking an album would make the cover flip around and enlarge to display the song listing.

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  • CHAMP
    I’m actually really liking some of the changes in iTunes 9
    4
    iTunes 9 was released recently and it features a new media view by default! (although you can still bring back the old way if you so choose)

    It lets you have tall vertical filters instead of the stubby ones up top, which I think is good because you can really see a lot of artists at a time.



    You can also add other filter columns, such as albums, but I don't like that way as much because you have to find the album by name without the aid of album art.

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  • I can't try the Zune software because I use OSX, but I saw this screenshot of it today and I thought it was worth showing because it has a really nice design. I hope that people find all of these screenshots I keep posting as interesting as I do... What? What's that you say? No one does? Oh dear.

    I like how instead of a service pane, they use a horizontal strip with all of the locations you can navigate to on top. I find that I spend nearly all of my time in Songbird and iTunes in my library, and the service pane is often just taking room away from the media. And I think the media view that they made is wonderful. It has a tall artist list like iTunes 9 has also added, but unlike iTunes, the album filter looks like it would really be worth using because it displays as an album art grid.



    Microsoft doesn't really have have a track record of simple or pleasant interfaces, but I think this is pretty nice.
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  • I made this mockup trying to make the simplest media view and interface for a music program I could. Maybe it could give people ideas for simpler feathers and media views.



    I realized that the now-playing area of the program doubles a lot of information if you still have the song selected in the media view, so I excluded it and just tried to make the now playing information displayed as prominently in the media view as I could. In case you leave the now playing list and song, there is an arrow in the right side of the title bar that you could click to easily get back. I also wanted to show an album filter like this that is one cover wide because it uses space well, really makes the album you have selected stand out, and it would feel more like any other vertically-oriented list.

    I described it in more detail here in case anyone is interested in this sort of thing.

    • I made this improved version while ago and thought I would share it. I tried see what it would be like if you had the player controls incorporated into the media view itself. It was just an experiment to throw some ideas out, but I thought that encapsulating the controls with the song itself might have some benefits:
      - the song would sort of spring to life when play it because the pause button would appear, the progress bar would slide out, and the time would start ticking down, all of which would help you visually identify which one is playing
      - it might simplify the interface by removing the large bar of player controls
      - it makes the song progress bar just pixels away after you double click a song to play it, which would make it easier to play a song and jump to a particular part.

      The second image in the set shows how the controls could fade in in the bottom bar if you navigated away from the now-playing list so you would still have control of the song and an easy way to return to it.

      This is what it could look like with a playlist pane.
    • I really like this!
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  • I’m I like the change with disc'artview in ITUNES !
    Alternative album art media view IS THE REAL MISS in songbird !
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  • I’m frustrated
    Why are people coming up with rather complex media veiw concepts for an album art view ? What's wrong with the way iTunes and Windows Media Player handle them? Personally i'd want songbird to handle this media veiw in the exact same way, because we're not re-inventing the wheel and at the end of the day the way they handle it WORKS.

    This is one of the only views which will probably look great maximised on a wide screen (something which ive avoided doing), because at the end of the day white space on the filter view isn't very appealing. And yet there still isnt (3 years into songbird) a decent album art view which doesn't take ages to load up and have the polished finish of others.

    I'm sure people migrating from other media players will want very similar views so that its easy to change over!
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  • Thank you for phrasing it as "people" coming up with rather complex concepts instead of "Murphy" =P.

    Truthfully, if a really great media view was made I would probably use it all the time and rarely switch to any others, so it might seem unnecessary to have all of these different ones made into add-ons. However, I'm not sure what the perfect media view would be, and I think it is at least interesting to consider different versions and see which ones appeal to people. I continue making mockups to share ideas with people so they might have an easier time realizing an actual add-on one day.

    I agree that existing software such as iTunes already has good media views, and I even posted some screenshots of it to show people what it can do in case they don't use the software. But even iTunes has a list view, a grid view, and a coverflow view, which shows that they don't know which one will be perfect for everybody. Which one of the three is your favorite? I know some people who use the grid view, and some people who miss seeing lists of their artists too much and use the filtered list views instead. All of my ideas are basically variations on these two types. In any case, I'm sure that at some point we will start seeing more media views come out, and maybe the team will even work on an official album art one. Until then, we can talk about which ones we like best so that developers might know what to focus on.
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  • Sorry I didn't mean to sound so harsh! I just find it a tad frustrating because while they are Album art add ons out there, (from checking today) they havent been updated in 2 months, and they are (no offence to the developers) far from perfect and all have their own share of bugs and preformance issues. And with songbird adding CD ripping now, it seems the only thing missing up to now are a couple more polished Media Views to bundle in with the installation program.

    Your designs are really good I'm not denying that but it just seems like there quite some time from been developed and I feel songbird needs one now even if its just a simple one and then maybe develop it further with some of your ideas later on once the basics are done.
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  • 1
    except I sadly don't have much time at all to work on them :\
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  • I’m confident
    5
    Hello all,
    for many years i had an idea of an addition to today music players that would bring albumflow to the next step - ArtistFlow.
    yes, the community will need to make art for each artist - but thats alot easier then albums couse there are less artists then albums (daaa).
    so here is my mockup for this... i think it would make songbird much better as finally it would bring something new to the media player rather then taking all the features from other players.


    so what do u think guys?

    it can come with a site full with this artist arts - as u can see i made those in the pic in a few min.
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  • I’m happy
    1
    I'm loving some of the ideas in this thread, now we just need someone to put them into practice :)

    Also, did anyone use ♪Photo? Whilst not the most streamlined media view, it was certainly different and took advantage of Songbird. Shame it hasn't been updated in a while.
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  • I’m happy
    1
    I've always enjoyed using Windows Media Player mainly because how I can view my music. I can if I choose to displaty tiles representing each artist in alphabetical order. It also lists information on each artist tile such as the number of songs and how many hours total. The more albums present under each artist, the more stacked the tile appears. Once double-clicking, the albums are listed in alphabetical order with customizable columns to choose from. The pictures are below. Its very pleasant to the eye and well organized. I wouldn't mind having a alphabetical navigation bar permanently positioned at the top to minimize scrolling for large libraries while searching for the correct artist.
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  • itunes 9 listing the album cover next ti the track listing of that album is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Really helps to break up those massively long lists..

    would have to be implemented in such a way that songbird only shows whats in the current view though

    i don't want a couple of hundred of megs of images being loaded for a 500 gb database!!!!

    make it so ;)!
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  • CHAMP
    I’m thinking they could improve on the grid view


    This is what the iPod app looks like on Apple's new iPad. Unfortunately, the grid view itself appears to remain unchanged, and it looks like it could really be a pain to scroll through a lot of albums without the artist letters on the side like the iPod Touch has.

    I just wanted to post it because, while it is not technically part of the media view, I do like how they moved the song's now playing information to below the album art. They are both information about the now playing song, so it seems like it would be better to have them combined in the window. I bet they will update iTunes eventually to be the same way.
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  • Yea, I like the photos app they have where you click on an album and another gridview of that album pops. I'd like to be able to add something like that to my gridview extension at some point. It seems nicer and easier than expanding the collection inside the same view like I was thinking before.
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  • could you update this to the latest songbird please?
    with album artist display option.
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