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More All songs -list arranging options

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When using All Songs category, one can currently arrange it with only one attribute, for examble one can have the order by artist but artist's songs are in alphabetical order. It would be great to get to choose more attributes by which one can arrange All Songs. For example first by artist and then by album, so your All Songs have always one artist's all albums grouped together and albums will stay whole, meaning songs are not arranged by name. 

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So you would still like to see a 'flattened' list (i.e. no drill-downs) but organised other than simple alphabetically - such as grouped by Artists first, then their Albums, and finally by Track number, but still as one long list of songs.

There have been quite of lot of requests for all sorts of extra sorting options over the years, and some time ago I mooted that a flexible customised sort/grouping option would satisfy everyone's need. It could actually be a really simple system, but still hugely flexible if desired:

  • You would first choose a top-down sorting order, using as many hierarchical layers as you like. Options could include genre, composer, year, track artist, album artist (which would drop back to using track artist if missing), album title, song title, path, filename, etc. There could easily be options for all of those esoteric things that people occasionally mention too, such as duration, bitrate, BPM, date added, star rating, most-played, etc. The resulting sort order could be as simple as just one layer, or as complex as anyone wishes. There would be optional Forward/Reverse/Random ordering available for each choice.
  • You would then choose which of those sorting levels you also want to act as a drill-down group. Selecting no grouping would give you a simple flattened All Songs list, or you could set just a one-layer Artists group which would contain all of that artist's songs in a long list, or more complex multiple drill-down layering as desired.

So as a fuller example, you could create:
    Sort ordering: Genre > Artist > Year (reverse order) > Album Title > Track#
    Grouping (i.e. drill-down) set on: Genre | Artist | Album Title
That would allow you to drill down from a top list of genres, into a list of artist names, and then down to their album titles (which would be sorted first by year with the most recent years first, then by album title), before finally getting down to the actual songs level, shown in track order.

As far as I can imagine, that simple set of choices (which could also be as complex as any user might want) could mimic pretty much every current category, sort order, and even most of the shuffle modes too. You could create as many of these customised categories as you like, giving each one a personalised name so you can return to it at will. Even the current pre-defined categories could be rebuilt using the same system, making them user-editable in the same way. It would resolve dozens of feature request threads in one go.

[Edit, idea picked up from another thread] It would also be pretty easy to add an option to use any tag (such as Disc# for example ) as an in-line separator in an otherwise flat list - so as to allow multi-disc albums to be shown as one long flat song list, but with a separator line between each individual disc. That would also allow users to do things like create a mode which displays all of the songs by one Artist in one large flat list (sorted by Album then Track#) but with a separator-line between each new album rather than requiring a drill-down.

Oh, and for the purposes of Shuffled playback, the 'category' concept (e.g. when using "Shuffle Only Categories, Songs in Order") would be the final grouping (drill-down) level before you get to the song files.

Well, it's a fun idea, but even though from an end-user point of view it would be incredibly simple and intuitive, yet hugely powerful, I have no idea how complex it would be for @maxmp to implement in terms of coding. 


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  • 1 year later...

Going by the topic title, it would suggest to me that a Restriction feature could be added for songs with swear words 🤬. I guess that would rely on both LRC support and online matching.


Update: Topic title changed by Mods 👍


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Since this subject came back up again elsewhere, and @maxmp was saying he was having trouble with the user interface becoming too complex, I've given it some further thought - far too much time on my hands during lockdown, sorry! - and I would suggest something like this:


The user would choose items from the lower selection area (which would be scrollable, so could have as many elements as anyone can reasonably suggest) and when tapped it would populate to the main list at the top. I've greyed out already-selected options, but some fancy dragging animation to move the chosen item from the bottom list to the top would work nicely too. Possibly make the main upper list draggable, to allow easy adjustment of the order and to move incorrectly-chosen items back down into the selection area?

The right column in the main list is a simple sorting direction, which would cycle through when tapped. Numeric items would be flagged as 0-9, and text items A-Z.

The left column in the main list is the only one that really needs explanation: it indicates where a 'drill down' action layer, as opposed to just further sorting, should occur. Without any of these selected at all, you would simply see a long flat list of all of the Song Titles in the library, sorted using all of the ordering layers above. For example, if you wanted to add a specific drill-down layer to view Disc Numbers (so you'd see "Disc 1", "Disc 2", "Disc 3", etc before clicking down to see the actual songs), you would tap to enable that for the Disc# entry. 

In practical use, the above example would generate a user-defined category that first showed Genres (alphabetically sorted) ; then you would drill-down into Artists (also alpha sorted) ; then drill down into Album Titles (first sorted by year in reverse order, then alphabetically by title - note the year is only there for sorting, it's not an actual drill-down layer) ; and finally you would see the actual Song Titles list (sorted by disc number first, then the songs within each disc would be shown shuffled).

It might be nice if those 'sort-only' layers generated a small separator item in the final list - so for example, as you scrolled down within the Album Titles layer, as the year changes there would be a separator line showing the new value - "2020", "2019", etc. Same would happen with Disc# in the song list, a small separator line would indicate where Disc 1 ends and Disc 2 begins.

If the user later selected 'List Options' while using the new category, instead of seeing any sorting-related options there would need to be a link back to the User-Defined Category editor screen.


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@andrewilley thanks for the outline. The part with the complicated UI includes multistep selection for the categories, multiple (1-5) sorting, various additional filters (rating, format, duration), count limiting (e.g. just top 100 items). And this is just for single level category, the custom categories allowing 2+ levels are even harder.

As for the suggested filtering approach, imagine you have initially All Songs (+ may be streams, which are not in All Songs currently), and then user can gradually filter out songs - based on various criteria + multi-sorting stays. It's immediately easier due to no category complications (All Songs is used as a source).

I guess it's should be possible to add any number of such custom filtered categories to the Library (either as top level or as a 2nd level for Custom Categories top category).


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@maxmp What I was suggesting was rather more of a system to would allow for users to create multiple-depth levels of tags/categories and sort orders. It wasn't so much intended for complex filtering tasks or count limiting though, just for arranging the whole Library collection (excluding streams) in more configurable ways than the current Category / List Options choices - as flexible as those are already.

By the way, the bit about using a separator line to break up multiple-sorted orders in longer lists (such as entries for Years, Disc numbers, A-Z items in alpha lists, 1-5 Ratings, etc) might be something to add fairly simply into List Options anyway. For now, just a simple tickbox for "Show Group Separators (where applicable)" would be nice, no need for anything very much further than that, and you could decide in which lists it makes sense to apply it. Maybe 'Recently Added'/'Recently Played' could have separator lines for Today | Yesterday | This Week | Last Week | One Month | Older. Just a thought, I do recall a few people asking about it in the past (Disc Numbers in album song lists comes to mind).


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  • 2 years later...

I love the "Paths" used in SongOwl, the music player that I use on my iPhone, the Path is basically a Category. A new Path is typically starting from the all songs list, but it can also start from something like Artist or year and it gives you two options at this level:

  • Group by: None, Album, Artist, Album Artist, Composer, Genre...
  • Sort by: None, Alphabetical, Release Date, Last Played....

Do your 1st level "grouping and sorting" which gives you a second level with basically the same grouping and sorting selections.

Some examples of my Paths:

"Album Artists"

  • Level 1: Group by "Album Artist", sort by "Alphabetical"
  • Level 2: Group by "Album", sort by "Release Date"

"Albums - Recently Added"

  • Level 1: Group by "Album", sort by "Date Added"

"Albums - Shuffle"

  • Level 1: Group by "Album", sort by "Random"

Various Artists (This is a path starting from the artist "Various Artists"

  • Level 1: Group by "Album", sort by "Album"


The Path setup is driven by two buttons up on the right in the Library view, left one is for the grouping and the right hand one is for sorting.


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I guess a perfect solution would be something sophisticated enough to allow any of the existing Categories to be transparently duplicated via a user-editable system. But I suspect there's some unique code going on in some of the Categories that would make a universal editing system a bit tricky to make exact copies.

But if anything does get created, I think it needs to be within the exiting Library Categories view so you simply add a new entry into that main list - which would need to be re-orderable, in the same way Playlist items can be dragged around, so you can put your newly created items at the top if you want.


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The main interface of "Path" would be a list of the users existing paths, a little like playlists. My list would be something like:

  • Albums - Recently added
  • Albums - Shuffle
  • Album Artists
  • ...

The "Path" interface described in one of my earlier posts above could also quite logically facilitate a filter by adding one more button.

  • Group by: None, Album, Artist, Album Artist, Composer, Genre...
  • Filter: Would be a list of the groups from the "Group by" action.
  • Sort by: None, Alphabetical, Release Date, Last Played.... [reverse]

A setup like this makes it possible for a user to mimic almost if not all of the existing categories.

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1 hour ago, 6b6561 said:


A setup like this makes it possible for a user to mimic almost if not all of the existing categories.

That would be my hope too. However as such, I do think any such interface should be via the main Categories view - partly as that's the long-standing norm for PA library access, and partly as the term 'path' usually refers to directory structures and would thus be a confusing nomenclature (not to mention plagiarising another app's concepts).


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@andrewilleyI agree with every single word!

A concept should never be stolen, but it can indeed be used for inspiration.

Paths is a bad name, as it has a well established meaning and reuse of names will just cause a lot of confusion. Searches/Shortcuts/Filters/Dynamic.../... I can come up with a bunch of names, but they are all a bit problematic so that would require a bit of thinking.

I also wrote that it should be like any other category in the main Categories view.

This would open up for a new library view without touching the existing ones, touching the old established categories would probably cause an outcry among the users.


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