One of the problems I have at work is that I have 3 applications open for participating in online community. I have Outlook for email, RSS Bandit for blogs & news sites and Outlook Express for USENET newsgroups. My plan was to collapse this into two applications by adding the ability to read USENET newsgroups to RSS Bandit. However recently I discovered, via a post by Nick Bradbury that

Hey, just noticed that the Google Groups 2 BETA offers Atom feeds for each group. To see feeds for a specific group, use this format:

Here are a few examples:

So I'm now at a cross roads. On the one hand I could abandon my plans for implementing USENET support in RSS Bandit but there is functionality not exposed by Google Groups ATOM feeds currently. I can't view newsgroups that aren't public nor can I actually post to the newsgroups from the information in the feed currently.  I see two options

  1. Implement a mechanism for posting to newsgroup posts viewed via the Google Groups ATOM feeds from RSS Bandit. Don't worry about adding USENET support for the case of people who want to read newsgroups not indexed by Google.
  2. Implement the ability to view and post to any USENET newsgroups using RSS Bandit. This may also include figuring out how to deal with password protected newsgroups. 

The Program Manager in me says to do (1) because it leverages the work Google has done, it requires minimal effort in me and doesn't require significantly complicating the RSS Bandit code base. The hacker in me says to do (2) since it provides maximum functionality and would be fun to code as well. What do RSS Bandit users think?

PS: Does anyone know how Google plans to deal with the deployment nightmare of moving people off of the ATOM 0.3 syndication format? Given the recent political wranglings between the W3C and IETF over ATOM it is clear that we won't see a spec rubber stamped by a standards body this year. There'll be thousands of users who are subscribed to Blogger & Google Groups feeds who may be broken whenever Google moves to the finalized version of ATOM. Will Google abandon the feeds thus forcing thousands of people to either change their aggregator or upgrade? Will they support two potentially incompatible versions ATOM? 


Saturday, May 15, 2004 7:33:01 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I subscribe to a few password-protected newsgroups, so naturally I'm going to favor option #2--Implement the ability to view and post to any USENET newsgroups. (Chris)
Saturday, May 15, 2004 7:47:56 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Go for NNTP. I just tried out the feeds. The problem with thier RSS feeds is that every reply is like another new post rather than a comment on the orrigional one. If it worked like the channel9 forum feeds I might be more of a fan though. I think for RSS to work correctly in this context there really needs to be some eventing mechanisms built in. With NNTP and a connection to the server you don't have to keep checking for new comments on a post and it feels more real time.
Saturday, May 15, 2004 10:32:49 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
My vote is for NNTP.

Personally I think NNTP is a better protocol for collaboration than either Atom or RSS - this is what NNTP was designed for after all. NNTP handles all the stuff that RSS doesn't and that (I think) Atom is supposed to, like saying 'I need the headers for all the new items posted in the last 13 days'.

Long term I think it would be excellent to see syndication start to work more like NNTP where updates propagate to a server near you so you're not always hitting the originating server to poll for updates. Having NNTP support in Bandit would be a good start at that..

Usenet over RSS or Atom is a cool hack, but that's about it.
Saturday, May 15, 2004 10:35:26 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
From my experience, multi-function programs (such as the browser/e-mail/etc. combinations in Opera and Netscape/Mozilla) are generally quite good at one thing - and quite weak in their subsequent addons.

That said, if you can manage to make RSS Bandit into both a great RSS reader and a great NNTP reader, then more power to you. And, in that case, I'd say go for the full NNTP package. However, if you want it to be a really good reader, you're going to have to dump in all the hundreds of features that make the big readers really usefull - like filtering, ranking, etc. Otherwise everybody with more than a passing interest in NNTP will just keep using their single purpose readers.

Even if you do, I'd say wait until the RSS functionality is nailed before you start adding in an entire second capability. RSS Bandit's slowness compared to other programs for example. Or the relative lack of control over the 'feed details' window (why isn't there a 'display unread items only' function?)
Sunday, May 16, 2004 1:40:13 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Or integrate RSS Bandit into Outlook. Then you've cut down the number of apps by one. I know you've mentioned in the newsgroup that you're not sure if this is worthwhile. I could look into what it takes to integrate into Outlook.

Another thought is to add an extensibility layer to RSS Bandit and see if there's an open source NNTP app that you'd feel happy with integrating with RSS Bandit.
Sunday, May 16, 2004 12:29:15 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Add NNTP support. NNTP over RSS doesn't work really well for me: The most important part is, that I want to see the posts in a hierarchical view, a tree structure.

That's why I also disagree with the previous comment by Nekomusume: Outlook does not support tree structures (unlinke Outlook Express).
Sunday, May 16, 2004 1:38:01 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I definately think you should go for NNTP, although it's an incredibly much greater task. If you go for NNTP, I hope you respect the GNKSA «rules» ( that exists for USENET clients. I know Outlook Express violates them pretty heavily, so it would be nice to have an alternative which also supported RSS.

I say go for it, and good luck.
Sunday, May 16, 2004 10:49:40 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I wouldn't do either option.
Option 1 is a kludge for limited benefits for a limited audience.
Option 2 is a lot of work replicating existing clients.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004 8:50:36 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'd rather you concentrate on making RssBandit a better news reader. I think that there's still some things to do, making it faster, able to use Gecko etc. If I want a news reader I'll use one and personally I don't care that I use 3 apps instead of one, after all that's the whole point of applications...they do different things.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004 2:28:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I definitely vote for a single application that can help monitor the various types of news and information sources available. RSS Bandit has been a great tool that has helped significantly reduce the time I spend each day keeping track of what is going on. The more sources it can monitor and interact with makes it an even more powerful tool for this purpose.
Sunday, June 6, 2004 10:16:35 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Well, we've come full circle. I could never figure out what the problem with NNTP was in the first place, but people felt the need to make web-based message boards anyway. Then when someone realized they had to run a web browser to read "News" sites and message boards, they came up with RSS so they could read their news without running a web browser. Now RSS has gotten popular enough that there are many RSS readers that aren't web-based which, ironically, is pretty much the same system we had with the NNTP protocol and NNTP reading software. Why didn't web-sites that posted "News" just offer their stories via NNTP? We could have had the same functionality years ago without having to develop all this RSS and ATOM stuff. Oh and with "threaded" comments already built-in.

I say go ahead and add NNTP functionality. And while you're at it, might as well add IMAP. I hear their protocals are similar.

Now that I think about it, all this stuff should be built into Outlook, eh? (Ogre)
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