Danny asked me to write a little retroperspective on the year 2006 in the world of Amarok. I have gladly accepted to do so, so here goes:
The past year has been a significant year for the Amarok project, I believe. A turning point in some ways. Let me try to summarize what made this year special for us.
Release of Amarok 1.4
In spring 2006 we released the first "Fast Forward" titled version of Amarok. This series introduced a number of defining features:
- Media Devices plugins, offering support for most portable players on the market (iPod, Generic USB, MTP, iRiver..)
- Built-in support for Last.fm streams
- Magnatune music store for online shopping
- Music sharing via DAAP
- Support for removable media in the collection
- Shoutcast stream browser
- Podcast support
- Music can be rated with a score
Last not least we also fixed an incredible amount of bugs. This is in some ways the most important "feature" of the Fast Forward series. It's my impression that people started to perceive Amarok as a mature product, instead of merely a "featureful" player. Now Amarok became a software that can be relied on for everyday use.
KDE Multimedia Meeting
In Spring our developer team had the unique chance to meet in person at the K3M multimedia meeting in the Netherlands. This meeting was incredibly inspiring and productive, and helped a lot to refresh our "team spirit", after we had gained several new developers. Additionally it was very interesting to learn about Phonon, KDE4's all new multimedia framework, which is being created by Matthias Kretz. At this point I would again like to thank the people from KDE-NL for being fantastic hosts. You guys rock.
In May 2006 we finally overtook XMMS in popularity, according to Google Trends (http://www.google.com/trends?q=amarok%2Cxmms). For me personally this was a special moment, because Amarok was started as a XMMS replacement. Seeing that people appreciate our work is certainly satisfying, it is maybe the "payment" of the free software developer.
2007 could become another very significant year for Amarok, perhaps even more so than the past year. In January we plan to start working on Amarok2, which will be based on Qt4/KDE4. At the same time we want to achieve making the program work natively on Windows and OSX. The future will tell if Amarok will ever become popular on the vast Windows platform. I hope it will, but as Sebastian Kügler noted back at the multimedia meeting, this could mean radical changes for the way Amarok is being developed, should there be a huge influx of new developers from the Windows world. I hope we will never lose our great family-like "Amarok Team" spirit :)