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Topic: New User Interface

Hi all!

I absolutely love Cog and invested some spare time in making a concept for an updated UI for it.
I've been in contact with dpromsky and fortunately he's open to this, of course the finer details still need to be figured out.
This is just a concept and far from complete.

More importantly is what do the other users think of an updated UI and a change in how some of the interactions work? I'm attaching an image and a concept video to get and idea. Please keep in mind that this is still in its very early stages.
Should we proceed with this or do you think Cog is just fine as it is now? Feedback is appreciated.
Let us know!


Check out the Bigger Version for finer detail
Cog


Video:
http://cl.ly/MT8x
(if you're not into Techno music, then please mute your sound before watching the video smile)

Last edited by kal (2013-01-30 05:00:19)


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Re: New User Interface

Yay, more people investing their time in Cog! big_smile Good work!

The look reminds me of Vox.

Thoughts:

Functional design should be the primary focus for an audio player. I really like the native look and feel of Cog. It makes it fast to use and gives minimal distractions.

When I use Cog I want to be able to find music, play music, see detailed file information and play state information. These things should be the primary focus and no compromises should be made regarding this functionality. I think quite a few things are done right already in terms of functional design. Form should follow function very closely. What I miss though is to be able to see file bitrate and volume level (a number) in one glance tongue

All this should be as logically structured as possible with clear fonts and high contrasts for high legibility. Graphic elements should conform to standards of today to avoid any confusion and screen space should be saved as much as possible. After all, this is an audio player.

There is still plenty of room left for artistic expression in all this. In the first place Cog should appeal to users who are looking for an audio player that "just works". (Surely that is what other players fail to do!)

I like the dark background, it's easy on the eyes (if done with sufficient contrast). I rather would like to see a single window tbh, it's more structured and the days of separate panes/windows are over.

To answer your question: yes, proceed with this but take a few steps back. It should be about what this is truly about smile I see you're talented and this is a great initiative.

I hope this helps.

P.S. Dude, Speedy J!!! \o/


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Re: New User Interface

Thanks for your feedback Herrie!!

I hope I can shed some light on the decisions.
Some of the influences come from the older Winamp. To me the best little audio player.
That's why I approached it with the best elements of Winamp in mind while trying to maintain what makes Cog a joy to use.

The interaction design you see in the video is about functionality and feeding back the most basic information (play state, current track, time etc.).
Hope we can agree that the most basic and primary functionality should be:
Play audio files with the least possible effort.
That would come down to:
- open Cog
- drag in files
- hit play
- go mind your other businesses
I don't think there are any unnecessary little elements or interactions. But if you do think there are, please let me know.

Regarding the bitrate: I might have missed it on the current design so figured it was just missing? I can only find it in the Info Inspector. But sure, showing it on the main window is no problem whatsoever.

Can you elaborate a bit more about the volume? When dragging the volume slider it will still show the percentage, that wouldn't change.
Showing the value of the volume somewhere on the window is a different story and doesn't make sense. It is always relative to how you might've set the volume on your Mac or even your stereo device. Meaning that setting it at 60% (or at 6 or whatever) and showing that value is just an arbitrary number if you also use the physical volume controls on your device. Let's discuss this further!

Valid point about the single window solution. Are you familiar with Winamp? You could dock panels magnetically together making it a single element. I asked dpromsky if this is possible on OS X and hope he'll get back to me on it.
I will gladly explore a single window solution though.

You said to "take a few steps back". Is there any element that you think sticks out too much or doesn't belong there, other than what's already discussed?

As a sidenote: dpromsky mentioned to me that he might just do a redesigned version coexist with the current one – if time allows – to see how that goes. The regular version and the one with this UI.

Again thanks for the feedback, the more people give an insight on how they use Cog, the better we can make informed decisions.

P.S. Speedy J is een held! Jij doet je naam in ieder geval eer aan smile

Last edited by kal (2013-01-31 05:09:03)


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Re: New User Interface

Well well well.. there is a lot going on here smile

Just adding my 2¢ here:

- although some might prefer the dark UI I really like the bright one. Plus, in the current one you only have "grey shades" (which looks very consistent) and the status bar (on top) perfectly fits in, which makes the app look really nice

- to your point in getting inspired by Winamp, and that will be the reason why I'd prefer the current UI, I hated the look of that app big_smile Cog reminds me very much of foobar:

foobar

I used foobar for a long time before I switched to Mac and really loved it. No unnecessary buttons, sliders etc. So I was searching for the counterpart on Mac and I guess I found it in Cog smile [although I now notice that foobar has an equalizer but I don't miss that so much =P]

Adding a new UI as an option might be the best in my case - can't think of something right now that could make the current one better for me smile

Re: New User Interface

Thanks for your reply arghwhymustiregister.

As you can see: different people, different opinions. I tried foobar way back, but to me it tried to do too much (under the hood). Kind of what iTunes does now. The image you attached looks like foobar is a nice little player, but we both now that there is a lot more underneath it wink

What I meant with Winamp as inspiration was not so much how it looked, but more its simplicity. Cog reminded me of Winamp, funny that it reminds you of foobar smile

Don't forget Decibel by the way, which in appearance and functionality resembles Cog quite a lot.

As noted in my previous post, dpromsky was looking into the option of coexisting versions.
Unfortunately there isn't that much activity on this forum to really get an idea of what people would really prefer.
That makes it that much harder to make real decisions, proceed with ideas such as this one and really reanimate a fantastic app that Cog really is.

Let's give it some more days here and see if at least a couple of other people chime in with ideas. Then I'll contact dpromsky and talk about how to proceed and if to proceed at all.

Re: New User Interface

As with the dock icons, I like it how it has been for awhile now, and am not keen to see it change. I don't know if it could be optional. Fortunately I don't encounter many problems with the 2000 build (before the icon change!), so I can probably just stick with it, but it would be nice to be able to keep up with the fixes and keep the old look. Still nice to see Cog being worked on tho.


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Re: New User Interface

My 2c on how i'm using Cog.

All my music resides in just one directory and i keep Cog's file tree pane for that directory open at all times. When i want to listen to something, i either drag and drop it from the file tree pane, or use context menu to add something to the end of playlist. Folder structure inside the music directory is pretty regular, so looking up something inside is quick, and in rare cases when it isn't so i use spotlight panel. Almost always i drag several folders with music fitting my mood to the playlist and let shuffle decide what to play. Having everything in single window is important for me as i usually keep Cog window in fullscreen mode.

As arghwhymustiregister i also like "bright" version more, but for different reason: it just looks 'native' and i don't spend a lot of time looking at it, relying on hotkeys to manage it instead (my IDE, text editor and terminal are all dark as i do spend a lot of time staring at them).

That is not to say that i consider current UI ideal (only nearly so smile )- there are a couple of improvement suggestions in the bugtracker (https://bitbucket.org/mamburu/cog/issue … -file-tree, https://bitbucket.org/mamburu/cog/issue … older-view, https://bitbucket.org/mamburu/cog/issue … mainwindow, https://bitbucket.org/mamburu/cog/issue … playlists). There might have also been more suggestions inside older forum messages/topics.

On the idea of having old and new interfaces co-exist, it should be possible, but it's a substantial amount of work, so would like to see stronger support for this first.


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Re: New User Interface

Hi!

It's been almost a month now since I initially posted this and we've had a couple of reactions.
I'm willing to dedicate some of my time to this project, of course it has to at least scratch some of my own itches too.

dpromsky: Want to try out an initial test version to see if we can get it somewhere?

Re: New User Interface

Arrr, I love this discussion smile I was very busy lately, but I will write a detailed reply soon.

Re: New User Interface

So was i. Resuming working on Cog now.
Want to do some fixes first, then hopefully we'll be able to try doing a new interface based on suggestions here.

11

Re: New User Interface

Let me know whenever you're ready smile


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Re: New User Interface

Hope we can agree that the most basic and primary functionality should be:
Play audio files with the least possible effort.
That would come down to:
- open Cog
- drag in files
- hit play
- go mind your other businesses
I don't think there are any unnecessary little elements or interactions. But if you do think there are, please let me know.

I don't agree with "drag in files". I have a Music folder that loads in Cog, have arranged my own subfolders according to what I want an album to be, sometimes it's a compilation, sometimes it's further split into artist/album subfolders, sometimes I have only one album by that artist so no artist folder for that (unlike iTunes). I can make up folder names and change contents at will without editing metadata or having software "help" me do it the way someone else likes to do it. So some of my albums have no track 2 or 5 or whatever, I don't like that one. Or I like it over there and not here. I'm thinking of making a Purgatory folder for tracks I don't like, in case I change my mind someday.

The way it is now, I open Cog, it displays all my "albums" in the left column. I decide what I want to hear, double-click on that folder, it plays the folder. If the folder has multiple albums in it, I can hear them all by starting with the containing folder. So if I want to listen to K&D or Ellington or whatever for hours I can just start there.

So, for me, no dragging, that's what I dislike about Clementine, because dragging then has two options: the dragged stuff queues up after the stuff playing, or replaces it. Clementine's playlist-oriented playback was not for me, it can't play folders without dragging to a playlist, maybe you would like that better. It's a nice enough player otherwise.

So we agree on simplicity, but not what it means. :^)

I do like the look of what you did, perhaps make a dark theme for Cog or an accessory mini-player or both.

I'm using Cog precisely because of the way it works right now, and if that changes dramatically it's no longer for me. I don't care too much about looks as long as I can read the titles clearly, after that I use the keyboard buttons, because iTunes no longer exists in my world.


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13

Re: New User Interface

speedyk wrote:

I don't agree with "drag in files".

You misunderstood the oversimplification of that step-process smile.
What I simply meant was open a file the way you're used to.
Just the way it is now in Cog. Nothing more, nothing less.


Haven't heard from dpromsky in a while.
If he's still up for it, I would be more than happy to contribute some time.
Else it's time for me to move on.

Last edited by kal (2013-11-24 03:33:23)