Just think about it. How would your mother, father or some other person that is computer illiterate be able to to make use of RSS. Without good support in the browser or OS there is no way that RSS will be something for non geek users.
Perfect world scenario
- A name that people can guess its meaning from. “News feed” is most likely the best alternative at the moment.
- When a web page includes links to alternate news feed the browser should make this clear to the user. Currently we got the XML/RSS button in the status bar.
- Clicking a link to a news feed should display the news feed and the feed items in your news aggregator (browser or OS bundled application). From this page the user can then bookmark/subscribe to the news feed.
Steps to achieve this
Better Feed Discovery
- Whenever an (X)HTML page has an alternate link pointing to a feed we need to make this clear to the user.
- If the Sage sidebar is shown the “Discover Feeds” button needs to change. I think a drop down button here with a menu item for every found item is the way to go and at the end have an item with exhaustive search. (The current settings for the feed discovery mode makes no sense since “Exhaustive” means that it will check on other domains and “Conservative” that it will only check on the current domain.)
- If the sidebar is not shown I think there are a few options here. One is to show an icon in the status bar. Another is to change the Sage icon on the toolbar. Other options include showing a popup for a while.
- When a link to a feed is clicked we need to do one of the following
- Prompt the user whether he wants to subscribe to the feed. If the user chooses yes then show the Sage sidebar and load the feed. This is what Opera does and it is better than nothing but prompts interupt and confuse people.
- Show the Sage sidebar and load the feed. If the user has “render feeds in content area” checked then the feed content will be shown in the current browser tab. Now the user should be able to bookmark the feed.
Hook into rendering engine
With this I mean that we should extend Firefox so that it knows how to render RSS and Atom feeds. This is basically what Safari 2.0 is supposed to do. I’m not sure this is suitable for Sage but I believe Sage needs this to be able make to make News Feeds more accessible to normal users.
This has to be done in a few different ways:
- Build stream converters for application/atom+xml and application/rss+xml. If this isn’t done Firefox will just ask the user to save the files somewhere.
- Listen to load events for the browser. A lot of feeds are sent as text/plain, text/xml and application/xml (text/html?) and for these we need to listen to the load events and use some heuristics to figure out whether the content is a news feed.
- Associate .rdf and .atom with Sage so that if someone downloads a file in Internet Explorer Sage will be started. (I’m not really sure this is needed.)
Here one might also want to add support to OPML files.
I think that we need to hook into the rendering engine to be able to show HTML for the feed in the contents area in a secure way. See