In general work has been progressing nicely all over the application. Feature additions, bug fixes, and updates to the look and feel are all coming in daily. A while back, we decided to try a new theme (again...) and for the first time, I think we have something that will stay until at least the first release. This new theme allows the different parts of Amarok to blend together smoothly, and allows us to achieve a look that is in many ways similar to the vision we started out with. The theme also supports the automatic color scheme adaption that we started working on with the last theme we tried. This is what my Amarok currently looks like:
While this theme might not be as fancy and colorful as some would have liked, it provides a good base to start from. Also, this theme introduces a new way of handling themes in Amarok 2. All the SVG elements are now loaded from a single, annotated, SVG file. This, along with a new D-Bus call to load a new theme file, without recompiling or even restarting Amarok, makes it much easier for artists to contribute, especially now that Project Neon (see below) is out. The theme is still being worked on, so lots of small details still need adjusting.
For quite some time now, our tireless (or maybe just sleep-deprived) release manager, Harald Sitter (aka. apachelogger) has been working on a nightly build system for Amarok 2 and all dependencies. This went live a while back, and we have lovingly codenamed this new service Neon. Neon allows you to test out fresh builds of Amarok 2 each day to track development, help find bugs, or work on artwork, all without having the compile a single line of pre-release code. This service has greatly increased the number of users running Amarok 2 and contributing suggestions and bug reports.
Of other cool new features, we now have a scripted service for listening to free, public domain, audio books from Librivox, our podcast support is coming together nicely, and along with the new video context applet, and the OPML Podcast directory service, we now have nice support for video podcasts. The Magnatune service now has support for the newly-launched Magnatune memberships, and Last.fm support via the new Last.fm service blows Amarok 1 out of the water. Work is also happening on making moving content between any of these collections or services completely transparent, so, for instance, filling up your MP3tunes locker with free audio books can be done just by selecting the books you would like and pointing them at the collection you would like to copy them to. This is still a work in progress though.
All this is without even touching on all the really cool stuff that is getting worked on as part of Google Summer of Code. We have 7 students hacking away on different parts of Amarok. Some of these things will hopefully make it into 2.0, while some will most likely get deferred to a later release.
All in all, Amarok 2 is shaping up to be something very different but still very much in the spirit of Amarok. And with the new frameworks in place we have a solid foundation for building cool features for many releases beyond 2.0.
If you want to read more about what is happening with Amarok 2, our blog is the place to go. Here you will also find a ton of screenshots from different stages of development.