It's been over a month since we shipped the alpha version of the Nightcrawler release of RSS Bandit. Since then we've fixed a number of annoying bugs and polished a number of our features. An example of the kind of polish we've added since the alpha is shown in the screenshot below.

There are three main classes of subscriptions we now support in RSS Bandit; feeds (Atom or RSS), newsgroups (NNTP) and search results. We made search results a first class subscription type because I suspect that subscribing to search results especially on various blog search engines is only going to increase in popularity. The process for adding a new search engine is still too "techie-focused" for my liking. I'd love it if our users would just be able to add the URL of their search engine of choice and then we check if it supports Amazon OpenSearch, if so then we add it as one of the choices for the Search Results subscription wizard. The current process for adding a search engine whose results can be subscribed to involves users adding a URL showing the query string format of the engine (e.g.{0}&format=rss where {0} is a place holder that shows where the query string should be inserted).  

I should investigate how many search engines provide an OpenSearch description documents file. If enough of them do, it may be worth the while for our users if we went ahead and supported it. That way they can just add '' to their favorite search engine list and we autodiscover the rest.

The Newsgator API has been a source of mild frustration for me since I added support for it. The existing synchronization features in RSS Bandit involve uploading/downloading a single file containing the state of the application. The Newsgator API assumes that any application using it for synchronization is also using it as a source for RSS feeds. From my perspective this seems to be a very big assumption to make but is understandable when one considers that the original purpose of the API was for their in-house applications. This assumption manifests itself by requiring that to synchronize the state of a feed I'm subscribed to, I need to fetch its feed from Newsgator online. This means that if I'm subscribed to 100 feeds in RSS Bandit, then I might need to download up to 100 feeds from Newsgator Online as part of the synchronization process each time I sync. This makes the synchronization process a lot slower than I expected. I'm now wondering whether we should rethink the user flow for our synchronization step since currently we lock the UI while syncing to prevent users making changes while we are syncing. With synchronization to Newsgator this could take several minutes as opposed to a minute or less with our other synchronization methods. I did make some performance improvements since we shipped the alpha but it still does take a while longer than I like. :(

The winner of the RSS Bandit New Logo design contest has been announced. Congrats to Eric Winchester.

Old Logo:

New Logo:

I'd like to thank all the folks who took the time to submit entries and those who voted for their favorite logos. We greatly appreciate your support.

It is quite likely that Torsten and I will ship a 'refresh' of the alpha installer this weekend. The reason it isn't a beta is that we are not yet feature complete. The code for downloading enclosure/podcasts still isn't all there and I haven't started on my idea for 'watching' posts for new comments. With any luck we should have all this done in the next few weeks.

After the beta, we'll focus primarily on performance issues. We've already fixed a number of issues that were causing lots of CPU usage but our memory consumption still higher than I prefer. I expect that the final version of Nightcrawler will ship during the holiday season.