Welcome elementary OS Freya Beta Users

First off, I want to extend my congratulations to all the elementary developers and contributors on a fantastic beta release! As most of you know, Vocal has been designed and developed from day one to work seamlessly with Freya. Unfortunately, that meant that it was unavailable for the majority of people to test until now (unless you were impatient determined enough to ahead and build your own unofficial, franken-Freya).

With so many new users trying Vocal for the first time I just want to say, welcome! I hope you enjoy using it! Please keep in mind that it is still in beta, so you will almost certainly run into problems every now and again (and when you do please report them here). That said, it should be fairly usable at this point.

Install Vocal

Add the Vocal daily PPA and install it by typing or copying/pasting these commands in a terminal (in this case it’s safe, but fair warning- always be careful when a site tells you to type something into your terminal):

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:nathandyer/vocal-daily
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install vocal

What’s New?

Video playback:

Vocal Video Playback

A vastly improved episode browsing experience:

Episode Details Side Pane

Tons of improvements under the hood, including a simpler and more robust media playback backend, better offline support, faster imports, and much more.

What’s Next?

Soon Vocal will pick up exactly where you leave off, by remembering which episode you’re listening to after you quit and how far you make it in each episode. A new cleanup system that automatically removes old downloaded episodes is also planned.

After that development will primarily be focused on more polish and bug fixes. Once I feel that it’s close to being ready I will announce a release candidate. I’ll fix any remaining issues after that, at which point it will go stable with version 1.0.

As for version 2.0 and on, I have lots of exciting new features in the works. I don’t want to officially announce anything yet, but I am confident that you will all absolutely love it. But for now,

Spoilers

How Do I Get Involved?

Donations

If you enjoy using Vocal I would encourage you to consider a donation. Vocal is entirely open source and 100% free to download, and always will be, but it takes a surprising amount of money to create free software. Any donation, even $1, makes a big difference.

Visit this link to donate (and yes, we take bitcoin).

Translations

If you are bilingual, translations are fantastic way to get involved. Just visit the Launchpad Translations page for Vocal to get started.

Bug Reports

If you run into any bugs, have would like to suggest an improvement or new feature, please report that here at Vocal’s bug tracker on Launchpad.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you use Vocal I would love to hear your thoughts about it (both good and bad)! You can contact me:

Vocal Beta Released, Daily PPA Now Available

Screenshot from 2014-06-26 19:38:31

The first public development release of Vocal is now available!

Please keep in mind that this is a preview release. Vocal is still a work in progress. You should only use it at this point if you are comfortable running into unexpected problems and crashes.

That warning aside, I have been using it for a while now and I believe that it is starting to feel fairly stable. Your mileage may vary (and if it does, please let me know).

Most of the features of the final release are implemented in this beta, with the only major exception being embedded video support.You can manage video podcasts, and technically you can play them in Vocal, but the experience is not what I want it to be yet. Proper video playback will be added over the next few weeks and will be included in the 1.0 release, following a period of additional testing and bug fixing.

If you’re brave enough to give it a go you can add the daily (unstable) PPA by entering the below commands into a terminal:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:nathandyer/vocal-daily
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install vocal

Vocal will only work on elementary OS Freya.* The best course of action is to wait until the Freya Beta is released before trying out Vocal. For the impatient among you, however, you should be able to run it either on a copy of Freya you have built yourself, or on Ubuntu Trusy or Utopic after installing elementary-desktop from the elementary Daily PPA.

Get Involved

Please report any bugs you come across at the project’s Launchpad page:

https://launchpad.net/vocal

If you enjoy using Vocal, and you want to continue to see cool stuff being added, please consider a donation here. Even small donations can have a HUGE impact on the project.

Keep in Touch

Let me know what you think! If you give the beta a try I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me in several different ways:

I hope you enjoy Vocal!

Vocal Development Update #4

We are getting close to the first beta for Vocal! Despite a few minor setbacks that caused me to miss three or four days of planned coding, everything is still right on schedule and it looks like my initial goal of having a beta out by the end of June will be possible. At this point all the core features that I want implemented before the first development release have been added, which means the next few weeks will be focused on fixing a handful of remaining bugs and then additional polish before I release it into the wild for the first time.

Please keep in mind any screenshots you see may very well change between now and the final release. This is still a look at a work in progress.

Screenshot from 2014-05-22 22:02:28

Screenshot from 2014-05-26 15:35:06Vocal feels a lot more functional as of late. For one thing, the downloads system has been added (although there are some small problems I need to fix). Active download information is presented in a new popup available from the toolbar. Files are downloaded to the local library, and Vocal knows whether to play the local or remote version automatically. Users are able to tell whether or not a file has been downloaded by looking in the episode view. Not only that, but now unplayed episodes are marked with a star so you can always tell what you have and haven’t listened to yet.

It has also received further integration with the desktop. Once episodes have been downloaded, or if it discovers that new episodes are available, a system notification gets sent. The dock icon also displays information about the number of unplayed episodes and total download progress.

Screenshot from 2014-05-23 18:40:54Lots of other fixes have been implemented, including a critical fix for a bug in the the feed parser that prevented certain podcasts from being added. I also fixed an issue where only certain episodes were added to the library.

The beta is still a few weeks away, but the most challenging parts for this pre-release are behind me. That being said, I want to make the app feel as solid as possible before I let others kick the tires.