Early on when I started working on RSS Bandit I use to take my cues for feature from other .NET aggregators like Syndirella and SharpReader. However in the past couple of months I've realized that RSS Bandit is more featureful and provides more bang for the buck than the applications I've been taking cues from. Nothing illustrates this better than a recent post by Roy Osherove entitled Why I like SharpReader better where he states (post somewhat trimmed)

if there are only two things that are missing from SharpReader , they would be:

  • an “author“ column
  • a “Flag for later“ column

That's it. Really. Today, SharpReader is , to me, much more useful that, say, NewsGator or FeedDemon. Why?

  • It's a power tool. Everything works fast, and you get almost instant feedback for all your actions
  • Filtering is bleeding fast in SharpReader
  • No fancy-shmancy nice GUI stuff. Just pure information
  • I can view a large amount of information at the same time, in a hierarchical manner.
  • the awesome “aggregate links“ for each post feature (which I'm not sure how it works)
  • It's simple to use!

RSS Bandit has all the above characteristics (including the missing ones like "Flag Item" and support for the author element in feeds) except for the "aggregate links" per post feature which I haven't found that useful. I've realized RSS Bandit has outgrown chasing the tail lights of applications like SharpReader and thus have decided to go in a different direction mostly inspired by posts from Jon Udell and others (none of which I seem to be able to find from Google right now). Below are the top 3 features I'd like to see in RSS Bandit by the end of the year

  1. Interesting New Posts: I am currently subscribed to a number of aggregated feeds such as the Weblogs @ ASP.NET feed and have considered subscribing to others such as one for the Blogs @ GotDotNet. The problem with these feeds is that they get so much traffic that I end up skipping a lot of of the posts even though there are some that I'd probably be interested in. What I want is to be able to configure RSS Bandit to highlight newly downloaded posts (perhaps even put them in a virtual folder) that I might be interested in. This may be as trivially implemented by keyword matching (e.g. if post contains "XML" or "RSS Bandit") or use sophisticated Bayesian algorithms.
  2. Structured Search: A number of folks such as Sam Ruby are experimenting with structured search over feed information using XPath. Given that RSS Bandit stores all the downloaded feeds on disk as XML, there is no reason why RSS Bandit shouldn't be able to allow you to perform the kinds of queries Sam Ruby posted in his blog. I want to be able to run queries like "Get me all news items I've downloaded from Slashdot  that were posted by CmdrTaco and had 'Microsoft' in the title". The code to do this is fairly trivial, the main problems are performance related as well as how to integrate it into the user interface.  
  3. Add Interesting Blogs To BlogRoll: This is another one of those features that requires integration with a blog engine like dasBlog. I want to be able to merge another person's blog roll with mine but only add the blogs they rate above  particular score to my blog roll. For example, I want to be able to fetch the blog roll of another dasBlog user such as Joshua Allen then add any blogs he rates as "very interesting" or "extremely good" to my subscribed feeds in RSS Bandit. Of course, this requires a mechanism and probably an annotation to OPML files for indicating this score.

There are other similarly interesting features that have been requested by others that could be added to RSS Bandit (some of which are being added as I write this) but these are the ones I am most interested in. I'm completely bored with doing the same old shit or even worse trying to reinvent the same old shit when there are more useful things that can be built at a higher level instead of dealing with low level concerns about syntax of formats and the like.

This is a similar theme I am coming around to in my work related activities around XML. More about this in the future.




Categories: RSS Bandit
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