While taking a lunch break I decided to finish up implementing full support for FeedDemon newspapers in RSS Bandit. With my checkin a few minutes ago it is now possible to use the various custom newspaper styles for FeedDemon in RSS Bandit and vice versa. More importantly one can now view all items in a feed at once in the reading pane instead of just reading them one at a time.

Actually that is incorrect.

My goal was that one should be able to view all items in a feed in the newspaper view. However it seems I hit some performance issues using the System.Xml.Xsl.XslTransform class in the .NET Framework. Applying a newspaper view on 3 months of posts in a high traffic feed such as the InfoWorld feed took 10 to 15 seconds to display which was a bit too long especially since other tasks would be going on in the background at the same time which would make it take even longer. So the compromise I reached was that clicking on the a feed node in the tree view shows only the unread posts in the newspaper view. Below are links to screenshots of various newspaper views running in RSS Bandit

  1. Outlook 2003 (RSS Bandit style)
  2. PopBox Blue (FeedDemon style)
  3. Headlines (FeedDemon style)
  4. Sticky Notes (one of Radek's FeedDemon styles)

One thing I've noticed is that different feeds tend to benefit from different styles. For example, I'd prefer to read news sites like Wired or Slashdot with the Headlines style while I'd rather read traditional blogs with a style closer to Sticky Notes or PopBox Blue. This should be a fairly straightforward feature to add and the infrastructure code already exists. The question is whether any user besides me will utilize all this configurability. :)

There is also the feature that FeedDemon has where clicking on a ".fdxsl" file from within the application automatically downloads and installs the style. Although convenient this seems like a security issue. This would mean that the file would be written to “C:\Program Files\RssBandit\templates” which may require running as Administrator. If we keep this feature we might have to move the templates to a user specific folder. What do you RSS Bandit users think?


Wednesday, December 15, 2004 1:17:05 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
What about having a local user's template folder (in D&S\App Data) that is combined with the app-wide template folder to construct the total set of available templates?

BTW, newspaper views are optional, right? They can be turned off?
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 1:32:13 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The logic in looking in two places for a file seems like an unnecessary hassle to me.

I hadn't considered having an option to turn them newspaper views off. Why would you want to do that?
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 1:54:09 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I figured you'd say that, but it was worth a shot. ;)

For some feeds I wouldn't necessarily want a newspaper view - I'd rather just have headline. I guess I could just resize the splitter, but would it remember that per-group?

If you're thinking about per-feed newspaper styles, then "no newspaper style" might be a good thing to include.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 8:13:54 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
> ... The question is whether any user besides me will utilize all this configurability. :)

Oh they would :-) also, it need not be a pref... RSS Bandit could remember the last view used on a per-feed basis.

Also, here's a rationale for having "No Newspaper Style" for some feeds: from my (little) experience with FeedDemon, generating the newspaper view takes time, and there are feeds with long posts (many MSDN feeds) which I know I read regularly, and I'd rather my aggregator not spend time generating views for them when I know I'll be reading post-by-post.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004 9:02:59 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Why would you want to write to program files?
Why not %app_data%\Rss Bandit\Templates
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 9:32:09 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Requiring write access to the program folder is definitely a no-go. IMHO Kevin Dente's suggestion would be the best solution. But this is not so important. I could live without having the .fdsxl click-install at all.

If you decide to allow different newspaper views on different feeds, a "no newspaper" style as Kevon Dente suggested should be available as well.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 2:01:36 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
To get around the fact that generating the newspaper view takes a long time for feeds with lots of posts, we will only show unread posts in the newspaper view. I think this will be satisfactory for most people.

The templates are currently stored in Program Files and we haven't gotten any complaints ever. The question is that whether we should allow 'one-click template install' and if we do whether we should move the templates out of Program Files to some user specific directory.

Thanks for the feedback.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 7:54:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I'll second what Kevin said about 2 locations but I'll take it a step further: conflict resolution.

This would allow the user to say if there is a duplicate file found in both places, default to using Application Data\RSSBandit or Program Files\RSS Bandit\Templates. This puts the file into one of two categories: user specific or system wide.

Having 2 locations would allow users to have their own customized versions of system-wide templates while quickly being able to switch back and forth between the 2 versions. A thought for system-wide templates would be to put them in the All Users\Application Data\ folder since it technically is "Application Data" that almost seems out of place in Program Files. That's more of a nitpick than anything but a program I use follows this approach and it doesn't seem like a bad idea.

It's a slight beast to implement something like that but it might not be a bad thing to think about for someday way out there in the future.

I personally like the unread newspaper view because it makes sense if it's to be read like a newspaper. Newspapers delivered daily are usually unread when you first get them but that changes throughout the day as you read something.

I also think that there is something to having a "read all posts even if it's severely slow and almost useless" view because there may be times where you don't care about the performance hit, you'd just like to see everything on one page.

"One thing I've noticed is that different feeds tend to benefit from different styles".
Having this configurable per feed is an excellent option. Most people may default to one newspaper view but some people may want to alternate. Having an "apply to all feeds" option would be wonderful as well because there may be times where you experiment on one feed then realize that you'd just rather use that view on every feed. Having to change each feed one at a time would be extremely tedious but it's not a huge stretch.

You probably have more feeds than I do by the look of the screenshots so it's good to know you're facing the same issues I am when it comes to large numbers of feeds and the information they contain. I trust your judgement on stuff like this so I'll know you'll make the right decision for everyone, not just a handful of people.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 11:34:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
You'd have to do a bit of smart talking to convince me the best place to store templates downloaded from the web were a good thing to store in Doc-Settings/JoeUser/Application Data.

I grok the security issues though. Maybe this could go in Doc-Settings/All Users/Application Data and standardise install to dump default templates in there?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 8:52:59 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
"The question is whether any user besides me will utilize all this configurability. :)"

I thought that per feed style sheets were a requested feature already...I think I saw that once while looking through the requests before I submitted some.
Comments are closed.