Digital Services Releases Redesigned Composer 2 Widgets

Apr 21, 2015

We’re pleased to announce that the newly redesigned Composer 2 widgets are now available and live! The redesign project focused mainly on the Playlist widget, but the Daily and Now Playing widgets got a facelift with this release, too. We think you’ll like the changes you see. Read below to learn more about each feature in greater detail.

Additional Resources:

How To Customize Your Widgets

Composer 2 Playlist Webinar Archives

Metadata Flexibility

Metadata is descriptive information about a piece of music, including things like title, album and artist. Classical music metadata includes additional information like Composer, Ensembles and Soloists.

One of the main pieces of feedback we received from stations while researching the playlist redesign project was that there was a need for more flexibility in what metadata displays on the widgets, and more attention to displaying appropriate metadata for Classical and non-Classical programs. To address this, we built the widgets to display different metadata for Classical programs than for Non-Classical programs by default, and created tools to manage metadata setup into Composer for both Station Admins and Hosts.

The Now Playing, Daily, and Playlist widget will show the following metadata by default (in this order):

Non-Classical Programs
    •    Title

    •    Album

    •    Artist

Classical Programs
    •    Title

    •    Composer

    •    Ensemble(s) (if available)

    •    Conductor (if available)

    •    Soloist(s) (if available)

    •    Album

Stations will have the option to display additional metadata on a program-by-program or episode-by-episode basis. We have added a new controller in the Program page and the Episode page to select this metadata. Station Admins will have access to this controller automatically, and they will have the ability to grant access to the Episode controller to their hosts. NPR Digital Services has prepared a detailed guide about how to configure metadata with these new tools. Download the guide here.

Optional metadata for the Daily and Playlist Widget includes:
    •    Album Art

    •    Label

    •    Catalog Number

    •    Host(s)

    •    Custom Fields

    •    Episode Notes (will only display on the Daily Widget)

No optional metadata will display on the Now Playing widget.

Usability Improvements to the Widgets
What can you expect to see with these newly redesigned widgets? There are quite a few improvements.

Look and Feel

The general look and feel of the widgets has been updated across all three widgets to highlight important information and make the widgets easier to read, browse and scan. Titles of songs, and dates and times when the songs played are displayed in larger, easier to read font. The program the songs originally played on is clearly marked, and results are separated by date and by program.

Metadata is now clearly labeled, which is especially important for classical pieces, where differentiating between fields like Ensemble, Soloist and Conductor is not easy if one is not familiar with the piece. The new Playlist Widget shows results in chronological order instead of reverse chronological order, and features an “infinite scroll” allowing the user to move forward and backward in time by scrolling instead of having to navigate through page numbers.

Search and Browse

The search capacities of the new Playlist Widget have been improved as well. Users can search by Date, Time, Program and Keyword, or any combination of those filters. The Date/Time search will localize the user to the closest songs played at those days and times, but also allow the user to browse around nearby dates and times. This will eliminate the need for knowing exactly when a song played in order to find it easily in the widget. The keyword search allows for the use of common search operators. Exact phrases can found by entering the phrase in quotes (“Miles Davis”). Commonly used words like “a” and “the” will automatically be ignored, allowing the widget to bring back more relevant results. And the use of search operators like “+” (for and) and “-” (for not) is now supported. For example, if you wanted to find all Miles Davis pieces except for songs from the Kind of Blue album, you could search for “Miles Davis” -”Kind of Blue” and get the results you were looking for.

Print Functionality

Once you find the results you are looking for, be it a listing of songs by a favorite artist, or an entire program’s playlist, you can now print the currently displayed songs on the playlist widget.

Now Playing Widget

We have given stations who use the Composer 2 Now Playing widget the option of transitioning to the newly redesigned version or not. You can find the copy/paste iFrame code in the widget config page of Composer 2. The redesign has slightly increased the size of the Now Playing widget, so we encourage you to test the new iFrame code to see how well it works with the area you have created for it on your website. You will also have the option to show or not show the currently playing song information on the new Now Playing widget. If you choose not to show the Now Playing song, the widget will only display the name of the currently playing program and information about which program is coming up next.

We would like to thank all of the stations who submitted feedback to NPR Digital Services about the playlist widget, as well as all of the stations and users who participated in our usability study about the playlist widget redesign project last year. We couldn’t have made all of these improvements without your help!

As always, please be in touch with us with your questions and feedback. Email us at