Since the middle of May 2015 we have been focusing on creating a new user interface (UI). The new UI is planned to follow the same pattern as in Helium Music Manager 11 where there is a Music Explorer, an Album view, an Artist view etc. What we don’t plan on implementing separately is the Music Browser (aka the MiB). The current plan is to take the best out of the Music Browser and merge into the other views (e.g. album and artist).
We are thrilled to finally be able to present some screenshots showing the Album view and the simple album details pages from both Helium and Helium Streamer.
Please note that this is a very early preview with only a few features implemented. There will be changes along the way.
Helium (album view and album page)
Helium Streamer (album view and album page)
As you can see, both products follow the same design and flow (apart from some inconsistencies that we will iron out) to help you easily switch between Helium and Helium Streamer while maintaining the most common and useful features. This also allows us to re-use good solutions and to avoid reinventing the wheel.
One of our main goals has been a more responsive and quicker application in combination with displaying the most useful meta-data up front.
So, how does this connect to what you can see in the screenshots?
To start with, the user interface in Helium is now fully scalable and is using hardware accelerated graphics when rendered. This means that Helium will automatically understand your active DPI settings – if you have set Windows to use larger fonts, the same scaling will automatically be applied to Helium.
What we have done next is to apply a dark theme, something which has been requested by many users. We also plan to create a light theme.
Just below the main menu you will find a navigation bar which allows back and next navigation as well as a global search.
For the Album, Artist and Label view we are testing a new concept – each of the views supports 4 times larger thumbnails, which is presented in a thumbnail flow to be able to give you a richer graphical user experience and using your meta data smarter.
Despite the increased thumbnail size, performance is much better than in Helium 11.
Per default all albums, artists and labels are shown. To quickly find one or more specific items you can now use the top filter. At the moment we support filtering of favorites, rating, free-text (album name or album artist) and release type. As soon as you change any of the filters the results will be immediately be shown which is a huge improvement compared to how it works in Helium 11 where each filter requires a full refresh. For example if you type “goa” in the free-text filter, all results matching goa will be shown instantly. If you then change the rating filter, the result will be narrowed down.
We are also experimenting with two different view modes for these views, the thumbnail view as shown in the screenshots and a card view. The card-view still shows an album image, but a little smaller one with more information about the album to the right of the image.
The information shown to the right follows a template which you can design, just like in Helium 11 today. You can easily toggle between these modes with the buttons to the right.
To simplify which commands that can apply to a specific item (album, artist, label) we have implemented a special state when hovering an item. For an album you will see two buttons, one play button which will play the album and one more button (…) which will show you a context menu with commands related to the specific item. These commands can for example be Enqueue next, Add to playlist, Edit tags, Download information and more.
The text under each album will show the name of the album, the album artist, rating and whether it’s a favourite item or not. The album artist label is in fact a hyperlink which allows you to click on the name to quickly navigate to the artist detail page. When you double-click on an album you will be taken to the album details page which will show various details about the album as well the full track list.
The track list will be grouped per CD if it is a multiple CD album. From the track list you can double click an track to play it as well as execute various commands from its context menu. The artist name for each track is also linked so that you quickly can navigate to a specific artists details directly from the track list.
You can toggle between simple (default) and advanced view mode from the View menu. When you enable advanced mode, more album details will be shown (defined via a template) as well as a more traditional track list for the album.
This track list works much like the track list in Helium today, allowing you to quickly show/hide columns, change the order of columns and more. What it also will allow you is to group the items in one or more levels with drag and drop, as well as quickly filter out items on one or more columns.
This summarizes this post about the new UI, with main focus on the Albums view.
During our next posts we will dig deeper into the Artist view and artist details as well as present the new Add to database dialog.