Thoughts on Safari RSS

I've been using Safari as my RSS reader today, to see how it works, and am actually pretty surprised at how well it handles all of my feeds (after going through a roundabout process to get all 390 feeds imported from NetNewsWire Pro 2.0)

The combined display has grown on me - at first I absolutely hated it, with my body physically rejecting it in preference to manually cycling through posts by title in a list, and seeing the selected post individually displayed in a pane. Once I let go of that, it's a much more magazine-like experience, and it's not bad at all.

I've found a few weak points, however:

  • No way to show only the new items. You can sort so that new items are at the top, and select "Today" as a filter, but even that is a bit lacking. My current Safari RSS feed display page says "25 new, 1173 total" - that's with only today's posts, and sorted so that new items are on top. It loads all 1173 items at once, which is a bit much, since it also grabs images etc. for each post. As a result, performance can kind of suck when viewing a lot of posts. This would be solved by having a "New items" option in the "Recent Articles:" sidebar filter widget.
  • Enclosures. No support at all. It would be cool if it could automagically detect enclosures, and pass audio files off to iTunes, and store other files appropriately. Sure, it's not a newbie feature, but it sure is taking off and it would be a shame to leave everyone out of the podcasting craze...
  • No real way to import feeds from other tools. A nice OPML bookmark importer would be nice (and provide the option to automagically transmorgify the urls from http:// to feed:// protocols)
  • No .Mac web access to the feeds. It's got all of the data sitting there in my iSynced Bookmarks - why not give me access via the web for when I'm away from my own machine?
  • Having to click on the bookmark folder (I call mine, creatively enough, "feeds") in the Bookmarks Bar, then scrolling down to the bottom to select "View All RSS Articles". That's clunky when I've got a lot of feeds in the root folder. It would be nice if I could set the folder in the Bookmarks Bar to "Auto-RSS-View" (like a regular folder's "Auto-tab" option), and it just jumps to the "View All RSS Feeds" page with one click.

Things I really like:

  • It's free and bundled with the OS. Everyone's going to start playing with RSS. No excuses about it being too hard or not having access to the software or anything.
  • Being able to use iSync and .Mac to synchronize my feeds on any machine I use
  • The magazine-like display really grew on me. I love that the "Article Length" dealie lets me switch from full posts to abstracts to just titles without hitting a menu or a preference or anything
  • Using "View All RSS Articles" nicely recurses through deeply nested folder hierarchies, grabbing all posts from all feeds. Nice.
  • Being able to email links to RSS view pages. That rocks. I could set up a folder of feeds, and link it on a web page or email it, and anyone clicking the link (and using Safari on Tiger) will get the aggregator page. Easy way to share blogrolls (or just subsets of them).

See Also

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