Preview of new UI

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)

vath1 vath2

Helium Streamer  (album view and album page)

streamer1 streamer2

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.

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8 thoughts on “Preview of new UI

  1. Hi guys,

    To begin with some positive words, Väth will look much more up-to-date than any previous version.
    And if it’s just nearly as fast as you say, this will be a big jump, too.

    But, well, to be honest: I’m torn – I don’t know if I will love or hate Väth…

    Why is this? I’m not sure…

    Maybe it’s because I’ve just seen stills and have no real clue about the feeling to use it.
    Maybe it’s because it seems to use only the Music Information Browser of the older versions or the GUI of Helium Music Streamer.

    Especially the artist view (and I haven’t seen any pics of it) might break it to me – I loved the way to have a list of all artists on the left where I can select an artist and see all related albums on the right.

    This is something I’ve always missed in Helium Music Streamer. Well I can live with it here, because I use this less frequently…

    I don’t know how far the GUI is completed, maybe you can create some videos about the workflow?!

    By the way: will Väth still work with the various database engines or do you plan to use a fixed one, which will eventually even be installed, configured and maintained by Väth?

    Personally, I would do it the latter way – which would bring some more load maintaining Väth, but in the end lighten the code and probably even make support easier.

    Kind regards,
    Sven Matzerath

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi all,

    thanks for showing fresh screenshots of Helium Väth.
    Besides of the new design and still don’t know if I will love it or hate it too. The screenshots and text are increasing my fear (No more MIB etc.) that Helium will change to a wrong direction.
    My fear is that Helium will be downgraded to a “playing music software” only. I really don’t need this. There are thousands of different players who are able to play music but only a few programs for collecting music including a real database. This is the only thing that matters and this is the only thing what makes Helium to a unique program (Besides a few others). And so I really hope that the main focus will be on “collecting music”. Otherwise I need to go for my Plan B.

    When you do plan to release Helium Väth finally? By end of this year? Or will it be in next year?

    Best regards,
    Astronom

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello,

    my impressions are also ambivalent. I like the new dark theme, the “immediate” search and it seems that whole program now will be more touch-friendly (I use Helium also on a convertible). On the other hand the whole program more looks like an app or slim music player. However the target group of Helium Music Manager are in the majority of cases “database junkies” with the need for all-encompassing music management. Therefore there shouldn’t be any concessions concerning the custom views, which means features like left sidebar in album/artist/label view or the nice coverflow are highly recommended. I’m also a fan of the now abandoned MiB. Although it was more or less a program within the program it was also a unique way to explore the whole music collection. Browsing music never was smoother than with MiB. And it was also a unique feature in comparision with other music collection software. I have to admit that cancelling MiB is a little bit surprising as you spent much time and effort in the last releases to improve MiB. Maybe you can reintegrate it – maybe not in the program directly but as an addon/plugin. Another request: I would like to see also an additional composer view as the composer is the “key tag” in classical music (and also in interesting in pop music).

    Bye byte and happy coding
    Wurlitzer

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  4. Thanks for your feedback!

    As mentioned in the post, the screenshots presented are only drafts for some parts of our entire User Interface.
    Parts like the Music Explorer, the Play queue, searches and more are not yet designed at all and can therefore not be shown yet.

    Do not fear that we will focus on a playing software only – we are actually trying to do the opposite:
    Fine tune the views to use refined meta-data better to give a richer and less cluttered user experience with more power than before.

    We are of course keeping the possibility to have a scalable solution with support for different database engines and we are also refining the data-model so that more data can be supported and used better.

    No tagging tools are yet implemented, we have only been working on some prototypes and the goal is the same here – have the same rich metadata editing support with better usage flows.

    When it comes to the Music Browser, we strive to expose its current features better and integrate it smarter into all new views.
    This might be hard to see in the screenshots, but we are trying to work with active links in the same way as in today’s Music Browser, meaning that you can perform one click on an artist in a track list to be taken to that artists detail page, from which you in the same quick way can open a specific album, browse similar artists and much more.
    Today’s Music Browser relies heavily on legacy techniques which prevents us from a rich and quick user experience, this is one of the reasons why we instead are “bundling” the features into the application.

    It would be very interesting to hear from all of you which of the views in the Music Browser that you are at very important, medium and less important to see which of them we need to focus on to implement for a first release.
    Please report this back to us and we will review this further.

    No exact release date is yet set, simply we will not release it until we and our customers are satisfied with the product.
    At the same time we are not working with the waterfall model, where the release should set all possible tools, views and features at the same time.
    Some tools might not be included in a first release – instead they will appear in the next update.
    A rough guess is that it will be released sometime during Q1-Q2 next year, probably not before.

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    1. Hi stojo303,

      answering your question concerning the music browser views: Most of the time starting point is artist or statistic view, but I also like the more or less “useless” tag clouds (common genres/common artists). Most important is the overall experience, the deep integrated hyperlink functionality. For me music browser it’s not for exact search (therefore we have the music explorer) but for browsing more or less aimless through the collection (like on a website).

      BTW: Are you planning to replace the deprecated “collections and volumes” feature to allow multiple databases?

      Like

      1. We have some ideas for a replacement for “Collections and volumes”, but it is far from ready to say how it will become yet.
        The main problem with today’s solution (apart from being old and a bit wrong designed since the start) is that it places itself “above” a track, which is incorrect and cause speed problems since at least two extra JOINs will be neccesary for all queries that involves tracks.

        Multiple databases will still be supported in the same way as it it today, according to our plan.

        Like

  5. Hi stojo303.

    You message is really good news. It shows you are working in the right direction. Now I have a better feeling that the final version will be a good one.

    In MIB I use to browse through Artists & Albums. You have a better view on the covers/pictures.
    But important are artist biography, discography and all possible artist/album information. Additionally – no matter if there will be a MIB or not – we have to browse through all the artists and albums and get information from there. Bios, Discographies, Countries, Cities, Birthdays, Relation, Reviews and Album information (like who played guitar etc, record numbers, label number, release, Re-released etc etc etc should to shown), Members, Musicians, Artwork, Slimcase or LP?, Statistic – and all this printable (disco, bio, album info). As more information can be entered and can be shown in “MIB” or elsewhere – the better it is.

    Two minor things at first:
    Can the star rating be increased from 5 to 10?
    Can Helium give a number for each record and the way it has been entered like 000001, 000002, …

    Best regards
    Astronom

    Like

  6. Hello, at the moment we cannot easily extend the rating span from 5 to 10 due to compatibility. (Tags and database)
    We will review if this can be added for a future version.

    >>Can Helium give a number for each record and the way it has been entered like 000001
    Should this be stored on tags or just in the database?
    Does it need to be in an exact sequence, otherwise an UniqueId already exists in the database.

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