NetNewsWire is my most-used programs as it more and more becomes the “Digital Hub” for everything “news”. Having had lots of feature request lately I put them together here once to have an overview and a place to point to.
- Disabling a subscription via a check box would make much sense if you want to discontinue following a certain feed temporarily. Good examples would be: cvs logs, overly active feeds. Apart from reducing the number of “unread” items, it might also help using less bandwidth.
- Being able to reorder weblog accounts in the preference pane and weblog editor list would be helpful if you are managing a lot of weblogs. Alphabetical sorting just doesn‘t honor the importance you give to individual blogs. For reordering, dragging should be possible.
- The built-in limit on the length of titles in feeds is a bit annoying. I have a feed I read daily (20-30 posts a day) that include quite long titles that are pretty self-explanatory. NNW currently cuts off the titles in the title pane at 55 characters or so and I have to click most of the titles to see them completely. There should be either an option to turn it off or to raise the limit to include more characters.
- A small “bug” icon next to the feed when the last request delivered a non-validating feed. I would be happy if buggy XML would be reported only (XML parser errors, especially encoding issues). But other errors could be signaled like this as well (high-level RSS bugs, unavailble feed). A bug icon, while not preventing the invalid feed being displayed as today, would point to invalid feeds eventually asking the feed provider to think about what is wrong with his feed. I imagine this would raise overall awareness for having a clean feed.
- Finding text is possible only within items. It would be helpful to search within the feed source window and the list of subscriptions as well
- Better offline support: weblog entries in the Weblog Editor should be cached for offline operation. Also, the number of retrieved (and therefore: editable) entries should be configurable possibly including all posts as well.
- It should be possible to have an extra excerpt input field in the weblog editor. This should be configurable: some people just write the core body, some use the extended entry a lot, others like to add excerpts. People should be able to taylor the editor window to their needs by selecting the input fields they want. Also, within the extended entry the tag helper is not available for links and extra markup.
- The Bandwidth Stats should be persistent over multiple launchs. Right now, the statistics get reset everytime NNW gets restarted. Although I tend to use NNW for a long time usually, I happen to quit it every now and then. If you could store the stats in the Application Support folder it would be much more useful as one reviews the stats only from time to time.
- A iTunes-like search field, supporting incremental search is desperately looked for
- There should be a toolbar icon for “Marks As Read” and “Mark As Unread”
- Another toolbar icon and shortcut for “Highlight Differences”.
It‘s usually easier to view a feed without changes and for a good reason, this option is turned off. But sometimes I am interested in seeing the differences. With a toolbar icon, this would be an easy step. It could either toggle the preference OR it could be a temporary “show changes button” that does not touch the pref and is only enabled if there IS a change to show. Either way, it would be helpful. Next step would be to be able to show incremental changes over time instead of just the last one.
- NNW currently displays date+time information in the following manner: if the time stamp is within the last 24 hours, the time is displayed. If it is later than one day, only the date is displayed. I‘d prefer the Finder behaviour: displaying date AND time (depending on available space in the column, which is user adjustable) for every item independent of the last 24 hour span. I am often interested in posting/change times for specific items. This is especially important watching RSS feeds of Wikis, CVS changes etc. where each minute matters.
- Date and time must be shown with seconds and layed out according to the International -> Formats settings in System Preferences. I am using english language for the user interface, but I use my localized (german) settings for date and time! “Nov 25” does not ring a bell for Germans at all. Neither does “5/2/2003” (germans wouldn‘t know it is May as they read it as Feb 5!
- Autoadjusting spell check settings. Mac OS X 10.3 brings on spell checking for more than just US English, which is fine. The “Check Spelling as You Type” feature can be very helpful when writing blog entries. I am posting to a couple of web-logs. Some of them in English, others in German. So I switch between languages all the time. But although the “Spelling…” floating window can be brought up quite easily with a keyboard shortcut, changing the language can be a boring and cumbersome task if you are writing a lot and won‘t spend too much time on the details. So this is how NNW could help: I would like to set a default language for each blog and have NNW select this language in the Spelling settings every-time I start typing a new entry.
- I read several “true weblog” feeds where many items link to the same URL. When I have marked one as read in one feed, marking the others read as well would be a nice feature.
- Make “Mark As Read” undoable. Unlimited Undos please for everything including moved subscription items.
- Now that WebKit is in NNW HTML will be shown as in Safari. Fine. So I‘d like to be able to resize the content with CMD+ and CMD- as in Safari. This is just so useful. I know that these shortcuts are used for going to the next and previous unread article but I think these could be happily replaced with CMD arrow right and CMD arrow left it makes more sense and frees + and – for a more obvious role.
NNW displays the title of any entry at the beginning of the preview pane. Full text feeds however sometimes repeat the title in the
content:encodedelement. So the title gets displayed twice. I think the title in the preview pane is somehow obsolete, as it is already highlighted and clickable in the entry list. The only real use for this is when NNW cuts the title to an arbitrary length in the entry list. This is something I think should be eliminated anyway (I can stretch my colums, resize my window etc.). Okay, there must be a solutions for small screen. Here it is: make the long entry show up as a tooltip as the Finder does it for long file names.
- Multiple item selection in the item list. Especially when using an “aggregation view” (a folder or the “new headlines” virtual subscription item, i‘d like to a select a bunch of items and mark them as read as they are not relevant to me for various reasons. But right now only a single item can be selected at a time.
- Per-feed ordering is important to get a feed‘s specific way of reporting things. A GeoURL feed sorts by proximity. Google searches come in order of ranking. Software listings might be more interesting when sorted by name. Most feeds however should just be reported by date. So NNW should allow a feed to have its custom ordering.
- Sync the unread items when idle. Programs crash and although I wouldn‘t call NNW unstable or crashy (at all) UI lockups, system crashes or simply user errors just happen. Under flaky networking conditions there is always a chance for a network-heavy application to wreak havoc. So let NNW write its unread item state to disk to keep important user settings safe.
- The Weblog Editor needs HTTP Authentication Support (both BASIC and DIGEST). This is somehow mandatory with the Atom API anyway but is needed for current APIs (MetaWeblog API and Blogger API) as well to be able to completely secure a server especially in tandem with HTTPS. Weblogs for closed user groups demand this feature.
- Modern favicon support.. Currently, NNW simply looks for a /favicon.ico resource on the weblog‘s home page. This is the wrong approach in many ways as well-designed HTML should (and do) provide icon information with a
<meta rel="icon" href="..." />element. Usage of favicon.ico is tempting but a headache for web administrators. In general, a web client of any sort should NEVER access unlinked resources.
Brent has publicly announced that something like this will be done.
Feel free to post your suggestion or errata in the comments. And when I have figured out how to enable per-item RSS feeds in MovableType, I will offer that for these kinds of entries as well (can anybody point me to a solution?).