Subscription Feature - Removed in RSSOwl 1.1?

  • Benjamin Pasero

    Benjamin Pasero - 2005-01-18

    I am playing with the thought of removing the entire subscription feature from RSSOwl beginning with the next version 1.1.

    For a new user its hard to understand what the difference between a favorite and a subscription is.

    Subscriptions are usefull when people want to share the same newsfeeds. The newsfeeds are then stored inside an subscription (xml file) that is put on a server. Each time RSSOwl starts, the collection of newsfeeds is synchronized.

    I am not quite sure, but I think not much users of RSSOwl make use of subscriptions. I am hardly getting any feedback on this feature.

    Please comment on this idea, its not fully decided yet. Maybe someone got a better solution that allows to keep the Subscription feature, but without confusing the user? One idea was mentioned in a RFE, to have an option in preferences that activate the feature. Other ideas?


    • Eric Benson

      Eric Benson - 2005-01-20

      I have a couple of comments/questions regarding the functionality of subscriptions, and then I might be able to offer feedback. :)

      First off, I was a little confused (before I read any documentation) about the difference between favorites and subscriptions. I honestly think subscribing to a feed sounds a little more "relevant" than making it a favorite. Just my opinion, but I did have to go look at what a subscription was.

      Now, on to a question. What does a subscription afford that an OPML export can't (at the moment)? Looking at the XML, it is obvious that there is a lastVisited date. But, it looks like I need to export it each time to make a new file. Originally, I thought that a "subscription" would allow me to sync RSSOwl at home and work (and laptop) which would be slick, but it would need some sort of autosave/autoimport to make things work well. Is this currently possible?

      In order to reduce confusion, it might also be a good idea to remove subscription from the context menu. Maybe. That would probably make it less used than it is now.

      Mind you, I do use a subsctription for two cateogories right now. But, I forget half the time to "subscribe" between the different installations I have. :)

      • Benjamin Pasero

        Benjamin Pasero - 2005-01-20

        Hi Eric,
        thanks for commenting on this issue.

        You are right, the difference between a Subscription and an OPML is really small. Both allow to import newsfeeds via a single file.

        But there are two differences:

        1.) OPML Import does currently not allow to enter a URL. You have to enter the path to an existing OPML file on your harddrive. I will most likely change that in RSSOwl 1.1, so that the user may also enter a URL to an OPML file.

        2.) Each time RSSOwl is starting, the list of newsfeeds that comes from a subscription is updated. E.g. when the subscription file has changed meanwhile (some feeds where added), RSSOwl will show them.

        Point 2.) is the only real advantage of having the Subscription feature. But I am not sure, if its used by anyone?

        The advantage of removing Subscriptions from RSSOwl is a much cleaner interface that is easier to understand.


    • Eric Benson

      Eric Benson - 2005-01-20

      Actually, I think point 2.) is highly desirable if the solution goes both ways. So, on machine one, as you close the machine the subscription updates. I can think of a number of programs that have this functionality, and a couple of those are RSS readers. :)

      The question then revolves around the advantage this XML subscription has over a OPML file if the two are allowed to be uploaded. I can see one advantage a subscription has, and that (accg to the XML itself) is a timecheck. This isn't exactly as robust as a "read" list, but at least you could bring in a feed and see what has already been "pulled" from another location.

      Synchronization is one of the features that I look forward to with RSSOwl. I use RSSOwl for its export capabilities -- I use hard copies of my feeds when traveling (or not around machines) and the PDF and RTF exports are great for this. I have a duplicate on an online aggregator, which becomes troublesome when I start adding and removing.

      Maybe, as expressed in the RFEs, there could be bloglines synchronization or some such online confirmation (although from what I understand the bloglines solution runs into the same last visited versus unread dilemna I posted above.)

      I don't think I actually answered the question, but you asked for feedback. :)

      • Benjamin Pasero

        Benjamin Pasero - 2005-01-20

        Well I think synchronization of two RSSOwls is a good idea that could easily live without the need of being based on the subscription feature.

        Feel free to open a feature request on your synchronization idea :).

        My initial point was to clear RSSOwl's UI from parts that are hard to understand for new users. Maybe subscriptions will come back later in a different place, but they should not confuse as they do now.


    • Benjamin Pasero

      Benjamin Pasero - 2005-01-20

      Hm, I maybe I should at least keep the name "Subscription" and get rid of "Favorite" which is how the Internet Explorer is calling websites that are bookmarked.

      Thunderbird's RSS reader is speaking of Subscriptions and I am sure other readers do the same.

      • Eric Benson

        Eric Benson - 2005-01-20

        That sounds like a great idea (renaming favorite to subscription) -- you would just need to make it well known. :)

        I will open a feature request for synchronization.

        • Benjamin Pasero

          Benjamin Pasero - 2005-01-21

          Hmhm. Just thought over it again :)

          I think subscription is a great word, at least in english. But in all other languages RSSOwl is supporting, that word may have different meanings. Even in german (my language) its not sounding very good.

          But anyways, even if it stays "Favorite", if there is only Category and Favorite, I think its pretty easy to get out what of those two stands for newsfeeds.

          Thanks for the RFE.


    • Benjamin Pasero

      Benjamin Pasero - 2005-01-26

      I just played around with Bloglines and how its possible to import subscriptions from there via OPML format: Fantastic!

      My new idea now, is to keep the Subscription Feature, but tune it in some ways:

      • completly compatible with the OPML format. Currently a subscription must be in RSSOwl's internal format. Changing that to OPML will allow to synchronize favorites via bloglines, or other services that offer a list of feeds via OPML

      • a way to update the list of favorites while RSSOwl is running ("Update Feeds" from the context menu or something similiar)

      • different wording. It must be clear that a Subscription is not for watching a single newsfeed. Maybe something like "OPMLsync" or "xyz List" / "xyz Collection". Ideas appreciated.

      Speaking of Bloglines, this would allow to synchronize newsfeeds very easily. But I am sure there are also other services running that store lists of newsfeeds in OPML files, that are dynamic (change every day).


    • William Tanksley

      I think it's mostly in the name -- but partly in the design.

      As for the name, why shouldn't we copy the name used by the community we're serving? They call this a "blogroll". Any language we get translated into will have a word the community uses for this immensely common feature. Just use that word. (Or do some research and pick the word used by people who can't stand the word "blog".)

      An automatic blogroll would be useful.

      But even more useful would be some way I could run Owl on my home and work computers, and never have to read the same post twice! Oh, without having to deal with the uselessness of being forced to read everything in my feed at once, like you have to with Bloglines (why on earth is Bloglines so popular?).


      • Benjamin Pasero

        Benjamin Pasero - 2005-01-27

        Ah, so "Blogroll" is the word describing a list of newsfeeds, like served by Bloglines? I could live with it, even if it would have no matching translation in other languages (often the english term is the best translation, compared to a native one).

    • Benjamin Pasero

      Benjamin Pasero - 2005-02-03

      The Subscription feature of RSSOwl was rewritten from scratch with some important changes:

      • For a clear meaning, the name "Subscription" was changed to "Synchronized Blogroll"
        A Blogroll is an OPML file containing a collection of Newsfeeds used to share feeds.

      • "Synchronized Blogroll" is placed as submenu of "Import" in the context menu of the tree.
        Therefor "Subscription" and "Subscription (Sub-Category)" was removed from the "New" menu

      • As format OPML is now being used allowing to import Blogrolls from services like Bloglines

      • It is now possible to edit the Title and URL of Blogroll

      • Benjamin Pasero

        Benjamin Pasero - 2005-02-04

        And in addition:

        • It is now possible to synchronize the blogroll while RSSOwl is running (inside the context menu)

        • RSSOwl will no longer load the Blogrolls on startup but when a Blogroll (which was not loaded before) becomes expanded. This will avoid having a blocked GUI on startup of RSSOwl.


    • Nobody/Anonymous

      Looking forward to this feature. :)

      Thanks for your hard work.


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