Camen Design Forum


append delete David

On Safari the RSS button is the address bar is labeled "RSS" which is clearer than Firefox 3. But it is something you need to know about. I'm always surprised about the people who don't know about Google Reader and how to use it.

Reply RSS


append delete #1. Oliver

First: I love the style (it's like coming home), but the textarea really sucks in chrome, because it flickers.

To topic:
We should learn from email and other successful software and standards.

- We need a rss url scheme, like mailto or magnet
-- It is not that easy to send rss feeds to your favorite programs
-- It should be not only implented in the browser but in the whole OS, like http and mail too

- We need better integrations in browsers and/or mail programs
-- Thunderbird sucks for rss
-- Firefox sucks even more
-- Chrome sucks the most
-- but even if they suck, there should be readable in browsers with standard layouts, that gives a good overview
-- better self-exlaining logos
-- merge of atom and rss x.xx to one usable feed standard

We should explain over and over the benefits of rss, how to use it and what makes it that great. E-Mail was such a success story, because the user understood the benefits imidiately. RSS is not that easy to understand at first sign, but it is such easy too. It would be helpful if browsers checks, if a user surfs to the same pages over and over again and tell the user, that the browser is able get notified in any changes on the page with RSS or whatever standard. That would be more helpful than any rss icons in the adressbar.

append delete #2. Kroc

Thank you Oliver for a comment that really hits it on the head and spells it out. There are things that can be done that will make RSS easier and it starts with end-to-end integration.

append delete #3. mwonow

Want to *really* save RSS? Find a model that pays the content provider for participation. If there were an RSS model that charged the user a nominal amount for an ad-free feed - and forwarded some fraction of that amount to the sites that were read - the providers themselves would make sure RSS stayed afloat. As things stand, though, RSS traffic has no positive impact on site operator economics, so there's no supply-side push to support the technology.

append delete #4. J to the ohann

Then why is "having twitter and facebook accounts" taking off? nobody (except twitter/facebook) sees a single cent there.

Besides, all you really need is feed readers that support cookies or other login credentials: voila, if you're logged in and a paying user, you get no ads in the feed. Not really hard and doesn't require a "new model" either...

append delete #5. IanVisits

Although I agree that the usability and discoverability of RSS is a problem - the idea that RSS code will disappear from web code is something I have a problem with.

With the increasing use of XML in site coding, and the fact that Google SiteMaps is also XML based, the effort involved in adding RSS to a new application is negligible.

Maintaining it is equally negligible, as it should be a component of the applications that generate all the other XML based feeds.

It may be a pain for new users to discover RSS as a tool - but for existing users, there is limited risk of RSS dying.

append delete #6. Reuben

Feels like a storm in a tea cup, or at least misplaced.

Google providing Google Reader has actually provided a revival in RSS for me. And even though I run FF, Chrome, and Thunderbird at work, and Chrome and FF at home, I've very satisfied to not care if the browser provides an RSS app, as long as I've got a web based one.

I will take your point on authentication and RSS, so you can see replies to forums that would otherwise require a sign in. But I know that Google Reader is an aggregator, and probably isn't going to store cookies on my behalf, in the interest of feed sourcing efficiency. That's where the browser looking after RSS might be required, but I'm usually satisfied with website that provide email notifications for updates.

Now, where's my email subscription for forum replies?

append delete #7. Kroc

These forum threads are actual RSS feeds. No e-mail subscription needed:…

append delete #8. Postoditacco

RSS is not dying, only the reader.
The consume of feeds isn't decreased but changed.
Initially I read feeds via reader.
Later, I discovered new contents via Twitter and via my ecosystem of relationships, in real Time streaming. Thanks to Friendfeed I also started to comment and enriche that feeds.
Today, my consume is principally through mobile devices and in real time.
I have adopted some tools, apps and platforms to manage that flows and avoid an information overload.
The more pertinent content is automatically alerted to me and I can choose between storing automatically on the cloud or bookmarking for read it later.
Now I'm subscripted to hundreds of feeds (thousand of items) and my Gmail account is the hub of my alerts.
The growing consumption by applications to mobile devices (iPhone and iPad in my case) makes not so important to use a browser (Safari for Apple only) as a provider of RSS.
RSS must be independent from devices and from location; contents should be curated by us and by our network; the interface must simplify not only RSS consume but also the sharing with them.

append delete #9. DavidMackintosh

I think that the browser should no more know how to deal with RSS than it knows how to deal with email or render video.

There are other applications which do the job.

As far as my own behavior goes, I use Google Reader as my RSS reader, and I have hundreds of feeds in there. This means I can have the same view of what I have or have not read across all three of my computers plus my blackberry. I don't care how or if my browser deals with RSS, as long as the "Subscribe" javascript bookmark thing works to grab the feed into Google Reader when I want it.

append delete #10. PIp

Rockmelt. It does exactly what you want. Say the word and I'll pass on an invite.

append delete #11. CnEY

I'm not really sure how browsers' lack or suppression of RSS features equates to RSS "dying". I subscribe to several RSS feeds, but I have never relied on a browser's built-in feed reading abilities because quite frankly, I find their UIs (or lack thereof) to be pretty terrible compared to those of applications whose sole purpose IS to read RSS feeds. I've been using FeedReader on Windows for years; I might be tempted to use Google Reader in its absence.

append delete #12. DunxD

All the browser interfaces for RSS I have seen have been based on either rendering the whole feed, or somehow integrating it with bookmarks.

The non browser based RSS interfaces I have seen, including Google Reader, seem to assume that I want to treat feeds like email, with unread counts, folders etc.

Neither the bookmarks or inbox metaphors work for RSS, as far as I am concerned. Both create ever growing amounts of content no-one can ever read.

Your suggestion that the Chrome start page including RSS functionality for most visited sites is an excellent one. Don't bother tracking whether I read them or not - just tell me if there is anything new, and enough about it to decide to read more. This reminds me of the Newspaper metaphor that was discussed frequently when RSS aggregation was a new thing. I haven't seen much of that, but it seems a far more useful interface for regularly changing information.

Talking of the death of something - I don't think I've used the bookmarks functionality of any browser since Google came out.

append delete #13. Lee Branch

Great post, can't believe RSS is so under-utilised/promoted.

The new chrome-based browser Rockmelt does a much better job though. YOu should install and try it out, makes it really easy to sign up for a site's RSS feed and prominent placing too...

append delete #14. fgoodwin

I'm not sure what you mean by IE9 users finally being able to see your site for the first time. I'm using IE8 and can read your blog just fine (and I see the RSS button is active meaning that yes, your blog supports RSS).

Your comments lament RSS implementation in Firefox but essentially ignore the fact that RSS IS available in IE8 (and probably in previous versions although I cannot recall exactly which version first implemented it).

In IE8, the RSS button is adjacent to the home button. In fact, I think IE8 does a better job of implementing RSS than Firefox. I use IE8 at home for RSS feeds instead of FF because I like the implementation better. In fact, lack of RSS support is one reason I've never used Chrome.

At work I have no choice -- I must use IE8 because FF isn't on the "approved" software list.

Anyway, I use RSS VERY much at work, and I use it somewhat at home. There are too many webpages relevant to my job to keep up with; RSS gives me a nice way to try and keep up. I NEED my RSS!

Thanx for a stimulating blog post.

append delete #15. Grimmeh


Safari already does the list of your favorite or most-visited sites and does notify you of updates. Whether it uses RSS is another question, but nonetheless, it works, and I love it.

On a second matter, I don’t see what else RSS is good for; not to me anyway--but that’s just me of course. But I do see how it could become usefull as a somewhat e-mail replacement for subscriptions, but I still find it more natural to find the e-mail subscription than finding the RSS feed.

PS: Why doesn’t copy-paste and spell-correct work in these text boxes in Safari?

append delete #16. Flip

Your overall point about browser implementation of RSS is an excellent one, and you are correct in saying that RSS should be incorporated in a way that looks past the traditional "email / unread items" thinking.

If I may hone in on part of your article for a counterpoint: perhaps the reason more people don't use RSS is simply that people enjoy reading an article on the site on which it's published?

Your screenshot of AllThingsD is an unfair example of a cluttered site because the large notice about tracking cookies goes away after your first visit AND is meant to educate readers about the very tracking methods you don't like.

But beyond that, what you dismiss as junk is actually helpful to many users: navigation menus, teasers to other content and, yes, even ads. Tech-savvy power users may not need such features but your average Joe wants them, uses them and enjoys them.

append delete #17. molly

Why are you pretending RSS is the only feed format? I find Atom much better specified and more promising for the future (AtomPub). You may disagree but don't pretend Atom doesn't exist. When Mozilla was still on the right path, they made a point of saying "feeds" or "live bookmarks" instead of "RSS", and insisted that the orange icon means feed, not just RSS. Narrowing it to RSS is a step backwards. All the contrary, we should broaden the concept of feed to other formats such as ical.

append delete #18. Kroc

Differentiating between RSS and Atom is one of the big problems with sites publishing RSS. When I subscribe to a site and it offers me RSS or Atom, I want to scream.

To me RSS is the catch-all term, like HTML5 is for HTML+CSS+Stuff. I am not going to be pedantic about formats. Users should never have to know the differences and nor do I care. I just want it to work better, be it RSS or Atom or whatever.

append delete #19. Rits

Opera offer a mail-like experience for handling feeds. That's pretty nice and used by quite some users, but of course not everyone wants to deal with RSS in such a way. The browser automatically subscribing you to (often) visited sites sounds like an interesting idea, though also a bit creepy. Those without unlimited bandwidth probably also have to say something about this :) But the biggest problem is in how to present the results to the user.

If I visit both Camen Design and BBC News, the BBC feed will give me a hundred new news articles a day and Camen Design's feed at most a few articles in a week - and the latter is not in my top-10 sites I visit. If I have to 'go somewhere' to see if new articles have arrived, you end up with the familiar options: mail like, river like, maybe live bookmarks. But you'd want to keep control over what the browser offers you in mail like or live bookmarks like interfaces otherwise it will become overwhelming. The Safari option of marking those top-sites who have new content as new somehow is cool, but would likely not bring me to the new Camen Design article when it comes out. Some sort of river-on-the-side might be an idea, especially if you can add *some* intelligence to it manually.

append delete #20. Kroc

Rits? Oh hey, cool to have you here. Welcome.

Like I said about the newspaper. This stuff doesn’t need to be "ticked off" when you’ve read it. So what if BBC news updates a hundred times a day? I know that. It’s not e-mail, it’s news. I ignore 90% of the news automatically.

If something’s updating very rapidly, then we could label it "6 updates in the last hour", or just "Updates" and don’t bother with a number. Remember, when I look at the home page of BBC news, I’m not looking to hunt down every story that’s new since I was last there, I’m looking for what I think is interesting.

Why not, under / aside the speed dial panel, show the two latest article titles. Again, I’m only looking for what catches my attention, not to make certain I’ve read everything new.

Let’s not make RSS anal retentive. In fact, that’s why it fails. We need to design things that make RSS passive and careless.

append delete #21. mike

I had the same idea about using Chrome's homepage to display RSS instead of just an image - I made a mockup:…

append delete #22. Kroc

Absolutely great mike! I avoided making a mock up, because a. I’m lazy and b. I didn’t want to imprint anything concrete into people’s minds. I wanted them to look at that screenshot, and imagine themselves what the answer is in their opinion--which is what you’ve done. I wouldn’t have done it that way, but that’s still a good mock up.

My only concern with that kind of layout is the amount of text. Should people be bombarded with that much text when they open their browser? Perhaps, perhaps not. How I would have imagined it as a number badge on the thumbnails, denoting how many are new, or perhaps just "Updates" to avoid number-overload. Clicking on the badge would then slide out a side-column, or some UI context that would show you the new articles that you could scroll through, or choose to open at the original site.

Whatever the interface, it’ll need some experimenting, and all ideas are worth considering.


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