Watch Safari's RSS reader in action  JUN 28 2004

Watch Safari's RSS reader in action. Looks pretty slick. Gosh, who would have thought they would put an RSS reader in Safari?

There are 3 reader comments

Ry32 28 200411:32PM

Predating Mr. Hyatt by 18 days, Mr. Jason Kottke.

Jim Ray16 29 2004 1:16AM

A bunch of folks thought Jason was "wrong" when he first asked why NNW and Safari were two different apps. I happen to still think it's the wrong approach, mostly as illustrated by this link.

It's not "pretty slick" -- it's pretty kludgy. The new RSS search box eats into the address bar and provides yet another element for the user to contend with in this space. It's a pretty inelegant interface that we should thankfully be able to turn off.

Bookmarking RSS feeds? I fail to see the utility in that. If I wanted to cycle through all my bookmarks daily, circa 1996-2001 style, I would just cycle through all my bookmarks daily. Bookmarking a syndication format strikes me the exact opposite of useful.

The "Article length" slider looks like a cool widget, but the only really problem it solves is poorly generated feeds. Generally, I abhor automatically generated article summaries, like the ones that most weblog software apps generate by default. Or the incredibly lame-ass Slashdot feed. If you're going to syndicate a feed, in my incredibly less than humble opinion, take the time to write a proper summary or just syndicate the whole thing. But this "cut the article off at 20 words and call it a summary" bullshit is lazy and stupid. This is a social thing, not a technical thing, and solving social issues with technical doodads is just annoying.

Search. Apple is going all out on search, and I couldn't be happier. The response to
Spotlight seems to be tepid but I'm pretty freakin jazzed. Now, searching RSS. Steve Jobs said in his keynote that searching RSS is going to fill a gap left by Google's inability to instantly index rapdily updated content (um... Google News?) I agree that a gap exists, but I'm not sure that this spans it. Searching stuff I just read strikes me as kind of... useless. If something is fresh enough to still be in an active RSS feed, I can probably find it pretty easily. Often, when I want to search, I want to search something that I remember from three days ago or earlier this spring, not in the past two hours. Unless the kludgy RSS search box is going to be caching my feeds for search, I think the usefulness is going to be pretty limited.

I'm not saying RSS support in Safari is all bad. Far from it. This is the first step towards embracing a widely used XML based file format other than HTML in a browser. This is a great thing. Yes, Mozilla and even IE can parse XML files, but they don't do anything useful with them, really.

And I'm glad that Apple is trying to make the mess of explaining RSS simple. Ever try explaning RSS to your grandma or why they should bother to download NNW? It's a tough nut to crack and I applaud Apple for bringing RSS to the masses, in a way. Even better, hopefully now the few lingering dinosaurs that haven't embraced open syndication will start to come around.

I'd rally like to see Apple give a nod to the developers that helped usher in this golden age of syndication. Brent Simmons' NetNewsWire has been the best aggregator on any platform since it debut and only now are alternatives catching up, mostly on OS X. Instead of trying to shoehorn some chocolate RSS into the Safari peanut butter, let the two work together. When I click on a link to an RSS feed, it should show a beautifully formatted feed in Safari, like in the demo. But I should also have the option, right in the browser, to add that feed to my aggregator of choice and go on. Or, it could be a Command+click drop down option "Add feed to aggregator" or even a Safari pref "Automatically add feed:// links to your feed aggregator" -- the best of both worlds!

From where I sit, you needn't be crowing about the foresight of RSS in Safari just yet.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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