Camen Design Forum

RSS article

append delete Adam S.


Mozilla fucked up RSS years ago when I filed a bug when they decided to remove valid CSS styles from RSS to install their own stylesheet. So I switched away from the piece-of-shit that is Firefox and never looked back. Mozilla has absolutely destroyed Firefox, once the king, now a slow, bloated sack of shite.

If you have a moment, read this, seriously:…

Look at how the Firefox developers react. Long story short: they favor dumb users over the technical. The people who MADE Firefox are now the ones they are turning their backs on. When we move on (many have, to Chrome or Opera), who will force the non-techies to upgrade Firefox or install it at all on a new PC? No one. I never install FF anymore, I install Chrome. It's better in every way. Firefox takes almost 30 seconds from click to usable on my Windows 7 machine.

With their removal of the RSS icon, it's clear that those at the helm are looking for numbers, not the best experience. So eff 'em. I've moved on, you should too.

Reply RSS


append delete #1. Jose Pedro Arvela

While I do agree with Kroc's article completely, and agree RSS should be given a place in which it stands out better, I disagree with your point of view. An RSS feed is an uniform way to provide the news to the user, and thus, in it's whole it should feel uniform. I think the image element, together with the title and description element, are more than enough to define a feed's identity. At most, I think only the elements inside each item's description could be styled with CSS, and should be very limited and only if there is no alternative good styling for these items.
Instead of seeing it as a failure, I see it as a feature, because I don't have sites hurting my eyes with bad stylings (for having the advantage of a rare developer who can do wonders).

About the RSS feeds, I agree that they need more attention. I do think the browser button is not going to work, and so, an alternative way should be made to catch the user's attention of the new feeds. I also think that any current browser implementation for seeing feeds is going to de-motivate users (I disliked feeds when I first saw Firefox's "Live Bookmarks", and only started using them when I was introduced to Google Reader).

I think Firefox could easily implement a special site-specific popup when that site was visited often, introducing feeds. The problem is, popups are problematic. An alternative would be to show text next to the button for the first few times (something like "Press this icon to automatically receive updates from the site"), which is less intrusive than a popup, but would cram the interface. Perhaps it should be up to the site owners themselves to promote and explain the icon, but then it would never get the boost it needs.

append delete #2. Jose Pedro Arvela

I said Firefox because Firefox is introducing in version 4 special new site specific popups, optimized to not bother the rest of the interface.

append delete #3. Dan Zollman

I looked at some of the discussions about the RSS feature. According to a Uservoice thread, it looks like good customization options will be available to users who already know about RSS (us), so the current issue, as Kroc points out, is discoverability.

I started a Uservoice thread on the issue:…

append delete #4. Kroc

@Adam S. HTML is my craft; if Mozilla or Google screw up a feature, I am forced to take my art in a direction I don't want to. For example, there is no RSS text or button on my website; I assume that the browser will do what is appropriate to itself. If no browser comes with a default RSS button, then I may be forced to clutter my website design with RSS links, which I don't want to do.

Mozilla _will_ lose to Chrome. Mozilla are so caught up in the importance of their brand, they are spending their time solving vanity problems, and not real life problems like PDF exploits and the burgeoning amount of spyware and unwanted toolbars for Firefox.

I still use Firefox because WebKit is not as good at CSS, it cheats in order to look faster, but even I am forced to admit that Firefox has lost its appeal.

For starters, an RSS should say "subscribe" instead of that stupid symbol. RSS is basically a subscription to a website to get regular updates.

append delete #5. Niels K.

I do not really agree with the article. Just because there's no RSS-sign in the browser, it doesn't mean it dies. RSS sucked in browsers since day 1. And people pushing the RSS-button usually do not understand what it does and why it matters.

Imho it's quite an advanced feature that needs explanation. If it's to be seen or not, does not matter. If you reached a state where you actually need RSS, you'll find out about it automatically. And then you will find your extension or bookmarklet that let's you use RSS with a browser and the feed-reader of your choice.

Since using GReader I've never pushed the RSS-button because it usually supports in the different browsers only "programs" but not a subscription in GReader. Which brings me to the next point. Google seems to care about RSS. After all they offer the only service that let's you synchronize via an API your feeds and read-states over several devices.

append delete #6. JJ

Although I don't have much to say about RSS, personally, I have moved on to Chrome, especially after I saw the FF4 beta. There are a lot of things I miss about Firefox though. For one, the extensions: the essentially limitless freedom when it came to addons. Chrome, as well as every other browser aside from FF, is extremely limited when it comes to extensions. I miss being able to have my extensions like ChatZilla, SQLite Manager, Firebug, FireFTP, NoScript (the ability for a noscript-like extension is due to be supported soon though, but thats a whole other story).

I think at least one of Firefox's problems is that its trying too hard to be like Chrome when it was originally good in its own right. For example, I liked the old FF AddOns window, before they turned it into a carbon copy of Chrome's extension tab. They also got rid of the status bar, etc. Then again, every browser seems to be trying to replicate Chrome's minimalistic interface, especially IE9.

append delete #7. Kroc

@Niels K. Google loves RSS because it lets them put their adverts on somebody else’s content and lets them peek at what everybody is reading. It’s lovely, lovely cash-money user-data.

RSS aggregators are used by the elite few. When websites start deciding to use Twitter and Facebook instead of RSS because it’s faster and gives them better features, and regular users understand it better, then you will soon be complaining.

#8. Niels K.

This post was deleted by its owner

append delete #9. Niels K.

@Kroc I actually do not see Googles ads in my feed-reader and even GReader is ad-free…
When websites decide to use facebook-only, I will write and complain. If they use twitter, well that's not so much of a problem.

a) I use twitter as a filtered newsreader already (following users who post content/links I am interested in) and it works often better than my RSS-reader (I'm not using Fever)

b) If they use twitter, I can either follow their twitter-account or put the rss-feed of the twitter-account into my feed-reader.

I'm getting worried when big news sites like the NYT start dropping support for RSS or common blogging software like wordpress won't support RSS out of the box.

append delete #10. JJ2

I think you don't understand the importance of rss/XML. While the browser designers might not get it, and appears to be dying o you, many an iPhone app, module, or certainly use rss, plus plenty of desktop apps. It's also an easily shared data format by companies. Also, many podcast feeds are in RSS. Two of my favorite sites compile RSS feeds - and It ain't going away...

append delete #11. marc-andre

It's easier to get informations trough Twitter those days. I wanted to use RSS feeds since ages, but i never got to manage all the feeds.
And with Twitter i follow all the sites i would have to visit and get still the informations i need (new articles, topics, etc).
So where's the future need in RSS ?

append delete #12. Munjeli

RSS Feeds are my gateway to the internet; with more than a thousand feeds in my reader, I navigate the daily news via RSS headlines. However, in discussing my habit with less tech savvy friends, the buzzkill for them seems to be the organization required to make sense of such a deluge of information. I have multiple readers, and everything is tagged, sorted, filtered. Also people tend to want, yes, PICTURES, with their news. These are issues that have to be addressed with readers before RSS can be popular.

I noticed while studying the data for the Firefox open data competition that bookmarking is surprisingly rare, and it's no secret that Delicious is going down. This was also news to me, we thousands of bookmarks, but again, the information is only functional because of my scrupulous tagging and formatting. It seems people are going for one stop news at sites they can navigate easily with visuals- an intuitive RSS feeder perhaps drawing from browser history might fit the bill for some. We can't expect browser developers to support features that aren't being used: a leaner browser is better, and customization is an easy option.

append delete #13. Peter

I just composed my lengthy answer to your nice blog post here:…

append delete #14. Cosimo

Use Opera 11. It has a built in RSS reader since 2005, and it works great.

append delete #15. Lennie

ie9 beta also has no RSS-icon.

All these browsers do have a bookmark feature, I like the 'subscribe' idea as mentioned above.

append delete #16. sasamat

I have to agree with JJ2. RSS isn't going anywhere. It's too widely used in the plumbing of the 'internets'.

RSS readers have always been a user-driven requirement and clearly they aren't surviving the changing face of internet-mass-adoption.

The success or failure of a 'Feature' such as a built in RSS reader is a huge topic out of the scope of this discussion.

Having said that, RSS, the read API for content, and the people who want to use it directly will always be served; just now as part of the long-tail, not the mainstream user community.

No worries

append delete #17. Kroc

RSS readers have always been a user-driven requirement

So user-driven that Safari, Firefox and IE have all hidden their RSS functionality by default?

Who is in the driving seat here? If browsers don’t have RSS auto-discovery built in, it becomes harder for users to use RSS. Twitter and Facebook grow as alternatives, and before we know it, RSS is old hat.

append delete #18. Asa Dotzler

Krok, Firefox didn't drop RSS auto-discovery. The code is still there and the UI is still there -- just moved to the bookmarks menu and out of the addressbar. Maybe next time you decide to rant like this you could actually look more closely at what was done. And yes, the item in the bookmarks menu for this very page says "Subscribe to this page..."

append delete #19. Mike Gale

There's a key point here. The browsers are becoming things that a lot of users don't want.

There are different audiences. The audiences that are prepared to spend some effort need ways to get what they want.

(Not the average result of an unrepresentative focus group, or however these things are designed.)

Do we need a browser toolkit, that we program ourselves? Do we need better customisation?

For RSS I have used FeedDemon for years. (The in browser implementations have always sucked for me.)

If Facebook won't give me decent RSS, then I can't use it much!

append delete #20. Kroc

I am well aware of where you have moved it, somewhere where it won’t be found. If only 3% of people used it on the toolbar, how less so elsewhere? I already have people claiming that my main website has no RSS!

The RSS page display is very poor. It hasn’t been updated in a long time, is not very helpful or descriptive and does not render HTML5 elements like figure very clearly.

My complaint is that Mozilla shows no plans to make RSS any better than it is. It is terribly implemented already and being left to rot, right there along CSS printing support from the stone age.

Asa, how about you listen to your own Firefox users instead of ignoring them and coming here to chide me? 58 votes for a bugzilla bug is not a small number.

append delete #21. Asa Dotzler

First of all, 58 votes _is_ pretty meaningless. I could, with a blog post get 100 votes on any bug I wanted in a matter of hours.

Second, how about spending the same energy you did on this rant coming up with a better design for RSS features and submitting it to the browser vendors who accept feature requests?

Your post suggests over and over rss auto-discovery is being killed when it isnt. You no more today have to add an RSS button to your page than you did a year ago. The UI for RSS has actually improved with a menu item that makes it clear what RSS is "subscribe".

RSS never had a button in the toolbar. It had an icon in the addressbar. Now it has a full menu item in the bookmarks menu with a clear description of what it is "subscribe." something it lacked before and which makes it far more discoverable than the little orange chicklett in the addressbar.

Your rant is misplaced. Mozilla, with the creation of live bookmarks and the first high-profile placement of the rss icon has done more to promote RSS than any other piece of desktop software. The UI, as it was -- a tiny orange button in the addressbar wasn't helping users use the feature so it was removed. Better UI, a menu item with a real description of what RSS does, "subscribe" replaced it. That's a positive step, not a negative one. Though it may be encountered by fewer users, it will make much more sense to those who do encounter it.

Live bookmarks, the best RSS feature implementation I've seen to date in a web browser, is still there. Auto-discovery and a "subscribe" menu item is there. Mozilla has improved the design of RSS and you're ranting as if they've killed it.

append delete #22. Bubba

What an awful argument.

1) Try Google Reader which works great in Chrome and has an extension for subscribing via any browser (except IE)

2) Mozilla? So what. See 1)

3) Issue IS NOT the browser if any real threat to RSS exists it will come from publishers

4) Extensions & Addons to enable and improve RSS exist all over the place. Use them. Unless you're not one of the self-proclaimed sophisticated users you write about ...

5) RSS rocks ... especially given awful looking forums like this and the ability to strip bad UI and unreadable fonts away

6) Mozilla & Google & Apple all support standards based web technologies across the board. Apple may be leading the pack with great RSS UI in a browser and mail client. But then again the article doesn't speak positively about any aspect of RSS ... too bad.

7) Ever heard of Atom? pubsubhubbub or other syndications that might represent the next evolution? Again .... just something positive to talk about or in Kroc's case ... learn about.

append delete #23. Asa Dotzler

Kroc, I realize I misspelled your name in the first comment I made here. Sorry about that. Can you correct the spelling of my name in your article? Thanks.

append delete #24. Asa Dotzler

Oh, and BTW, I just now noticed your "update" section at the top right of the blog posts. That's so awesome. I've frequently tacked on an update to the end of my posts, but always disliked that it was at the end of the post so someone reading all the way through a long-ish post wouldn't get the benefit of the update. At the same time, putting an update at the front of a post often seemed way too heavy weight for most situations. I think your off to the side approach is excellent.

append delete #25. Kroc

Actually, you just reminded me that that should really include a link to the third section.

The update notice uses HTML5 <aside>. Browser vendors do do good things, most of the time :P


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