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mu's views on program and recipe! design

September 2006

Mmm, Proprietary Serviceware. Posted 2006.09.30 09:22 PDT

So many things I forego writing about to fill up your feed, but here's one that I just have to. A while ago I worked on a program I was calling tansei. The eventual goal was to be a personal planet-style feed aggregator in an application instead of a browser window. But I got tired of it after some of the simplest bits of it fought me for too long. And as usual when I write software, I distracted myself with less important parts of it first - in this case trying to render all sorts of crappy html the way I wanted it.

So finally a few months ago Joe tells me liferea has a compact view which does exactly what I least when it manages to pull the entries separately. And that means I no longer have to write the rest of the program, so I'm happy. Mostly. I don't actually like liferea all that much. The interface is somehow clunky in ways I can't put my finger on. The one I can is where it fails to act like another application which doing something weird - if, like pan's error window, liferea would put a close window button next to the mark-items-read button, I'd stop accidentally refreshing everything.

Then yesterday I hear that Google (they don't need the miniscule PageRank boost I can offer on a link) has released an upgrade to their feed reader service. The interface is pretty slick. It lets me delete the 2000 odd feeds I had accidentally imported into the old interface in under 10 tries (the previous interface would have required me to delete each one; the new one just kept failing in the middle of each delete all). It's about as nice as the way I read my mail. And then I find the important part: if I put subscriptions in folders, then I can select to read an entire folder. It then interleaves the posts by date. Yay! Planet behavior! This is on top of all the other odd benefits, such as practically infinite history for as long as anyone has subscribed to the same feed.

Today I try to load it. I can't seem to get past the loading animation. Since it's just an animated GIF I have no way to tell if it's making progress. I'm sad. I try another browser. No go. I'm sure they'll fix it later. Mmm, proprietary serviceware indeed.

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