Especially noteworthy in this release is rudimentary support for ATOM and RSS feeds. Neither RSS nor ATOM is a by-Hoyle web standard, though ATOM is being standardized by the IETF. To my knowledge, despite the use of RSS by dozens of big-name publications like the BBC and The New York Times, there is no similar effort underway for that format. In fact, the person most influential in the RSS world, Dave Winer, has expressly disavowed such a role for the RSS Advisory Board he founded. Nevertheless, these are two useful technologies. Cheers to the Mozilla Foundation for embracing them both.
Firefox displays a rectangular orangs ‘RSS’ icon on the right side of the status bar when you’re browsing a site with an RSS or ATOM feed. Click the icon, and Firefox will add the feed to your bookmarks. It treats feeds as a folder, and individual items as bookmarks. It seems a bit kludgey to me, as there isn’t any obvious way to see only article summaries rather than hitting the sites themselves.
In Thunderbird, one sets up a ‘News & Blogs’ account and adds feeds there. One has the option of either loading descriptions or the full web page into the main window when one clicks on a headline, and can organize the feeds into folders. All in all, it’s not unlike Ranchero Software‘s NetNewsWire Lite for OS X, or a primitive version of Newsgator, a feed reader extension for Microsoft Outlook on Windows.
Both programs, and the suite, sport numerous other smaller improvements and bug fixes as well. If you haven’t tried either yet, it’s time to give ‘em a whirl.
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