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FAQ: Syncing & Podcasting

Feature requests are often repetitive, so I thought I would address two common requests, if only to cut my inbox some slack.

Syncing (ie. syncing of feeds/articles/etc. between different Macs/devices): In short, yes, but not until syncing is built into the OS. I haven’t looked into the implementation details yet, but I’m presuming that these mechanisms in Tiger will suffice for our purposes.

Podcasting: I have a more meandering answer. To a reasonable extent, NewsFire already supports podcasts. NewsFire recognizes audio enclosures and it does display them. If an article has audio content, that content appears when you view the article. I think this user interface makes sense. It’s simple, easily understood by the user, and fits well within the NewsFire interaction style. Moreover, I think it is sufficient for most users.

I presume when people ask for podcast support they want non-interactive preloading of audio content and importing of this content into iTunes. My gut reaction to this is that if podcasting is essentially about importing audio content into iTunes, then the proper place for podcast support is in iTunes itself. I mean, Apple already supports streaming radio in iTunes. Insofar as podcasting is a new type of web radio, it makes sense that it should take its place alongside streaming radio inside iTunes.

Of course, getting podcasting into iTunes ultimately isn’t up to us. In the meantime we’re left with two classes of applications that do podcasting: dedicated podcasting apps and RSS readers that have hacked on podcasting features. In principle, there is nothing wrong with dedicated podcasting applications. However, most of the feedback I get is that these podcasting apps are just not good. That’s not to say the idea of a dedicated podcasting app is wrong – I think it’s very right – it’s just that the implementation thus far has not lived up to expectations. The failure of these applications to deliver compelling user interfaces should not reflect poorly on the idea.

Desperately trying to play hero to podcast fans have been RSS readers that think that since news syndication and podcasting use the same data format, you should have one huge app that does it all. My major concern with this is that you are mixing interface metaphors. The metaphor behind podcasting is radio. The metaphor behind RSS readers is the newspaper. Different metaphors demand different interaction designs and this demands different user interfaces. Fusing two fundamentally different interaction designs muddles the final design.

As a matter of personal taste, I despise bloat – I like my applications tight, lean and focused. I think the user experience is better when you have applications that do a specific task and do it really well. I would love for a really great dedicated podcasting application to emerge. Who knows, if no one else steps up to the plate, maybe I’ll have to write one myself.

What does this mean for NewsFire? Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve stated my dislike of bloat. However, I don’t want to rule out anything – every time I say “no” to a feature, I end up changing my mind 6 months down the road. In fact, the quicker I dismiss an idea, the better that idea probably is. I certainly am interested in what people think on this matter (that’s partly the reason for this post). My assumptions about how people interact with podcasts might be wrong. I am reasonably convinced, however, that if either iTunes adopts podcasting support (unlikely) or a really stellar dedicated podcasting application emerges (I sure hope so), the demand for heavy-duty podcasting features in news reading apps will fade.

Site/Volume Licenses

Since a number of people have inquired, I have established an actual site/volume licensing scheme for NewsFire. The short story is that discounts of up to 50% are being offered for volume licenses. Even greater discounts can be discussed in certain situations.

A site license is a perfect fit to bring all the Mac users in your office into the RSS era. Like all NewsFire licenses, these are valid for all future 1.x versions (not just 1.0).

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  • February 21st, 2005 12:53 am


The German localization for NewsFire from Jannis Leidel and Hendrik Holtmann came in just shortly after I released the 1.0 (v24) build. Since it’ll be a while (I mean, a couple of days) before v25 is built and because there a lot of German NewsFire users, I thought I would post the German.lproj file here immediately: http://www.newsfirerss.com/German.lproj.zip

Download & unzip. In the Finder, do a command-I on NewsFire, click the “Add…” button under “Languages” and choose the .lproj folder.

…and I do realize that these English instructions are probably less than useful to native German speakers (who probably don’t even read my blog), so perhaps a helpful German blog could give some assistance/spread the word?

NewsFire 1.0

I am pleased to announce the immediate release of NewsFire 1.0, the most stylish RSS news reader on the Mac. Built from the ground-up with OS X in mind, NewsFire dazzles with a gorgeous animated interface that needs to be seen to be understood.

Beneath its simple exterior lies a powerful feature set including:

  • support for all major syndication formats
  • powerful feed discovery interface
  • user-controlled smart feeds
  • nstant search of local and remote feeds
  • support for embedded audio content
  • multiple display options
  • external blog editor support
  • import/export of feed collections
  • powerful keyboard navigation and shortcuts

    NewsFire’s greatest feature, however, is its minimalist yet expressive user interface. Using design cues from iChat and Safari, NewsFire presents a friendly and sensible interface to new users. At the same time, advanced features like smart feeds and extensive keyboard shortcuts enhance the experience for power users. Ultimately, NewsFire is the easiest and most stylish way to join the RSS revolution and begin benefiting from this booming notification technology.

    Of course, descriptions aside, the best way to understand NewsFire is to download and try it.

  • FAQ: Opening articles in tabs

    People often ask if I can make NewsFire open articles in tabs in Safari. The answer, alas, is “no”. Apple does not provide the necessary hooks in Safari to let anyone control its tabs.

    That said, if you look in Safari’s ‘General’ preferences you’ll notice the last preference, ‘Open links from applications: in a new window/in a new tab in the current window’. This preference generally suffices.

    WordPress… sigh

    As I said in my first post, I’m new to blogging and blogging software. This ignorance led me to delete all pending comments in WordPress a minute ago, instead of approving them as I thought I was doing (comments are moderated because I seem to suffer from bad comment-spam even though I just opened this blog). I pressed the wrong button, apparently. So, if your comment is missing in action, it’s not intentional, it’s just been consumed by the evil that is bad interface design.

    That aside, WordPress is pretty funky.

    Call for localizers

    NewsFire is heading to 1.0 shortly, and it would be great to have it available in as many languages as possible. If you’re interested in localizing NewsFire, please send me an email. Right now Dutch, German, Chinese, and Italian are covered. I would really like to add Japanese and French to that list, so if you’re interested please get in touch.

    All localizers receive a free license for NewsFire as well as written credit in the documentation as thanks.

    Freeware and Shareware

    It has been noted that NewsFire has “unexpectedly” made the transition from “freeware” to shareware. I put “freeware” in quotes because it never was freeware, and I never said it was freeware – it was in a public beta release. Its eventual transition to shareware was always planned and this plan has always been public knowledge. I put “unexpected” in quotes because this was publicly known since NewsFire version 0.1 in August 2004.

    It’s unclear to me how 7 months forewarning is insufficient.

    The NewsFire website has clearly stated it would be shareware from the very beginning. It’s a shame that some people chose to simply ignore my words and then blame me for their failing.

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    • February 3rd, 2005 1:36 pm

    Tera Patricks on RSS

    Hip and happening Mac journalist Tera Patricks has written an article on RSS. In my mind, she totally groks the paradigm shift of RSS and does a fine job of explaining it. She’s also got a sweet spot for a certain RSS reader, hence this post. :)

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    • February 2nd, 2005 6:29 pm

    NewsFire Developer Blog

    Welcome! It’s been noted that since I am the designer behind a prominent RSS reader on the Mac, it would seem natural that I have a blog. So, I have created this blog to fill that void and track the development of NewsFire. I’ll admit that I’ve never had a blog before, so it’s all an experiment. I’ll try to keep the tangential ramblings to a minimum.

    For the uninitiated, I tend to run a very rapid release cycle on my software (as short as a few days). Even though I’ll be putting out a 1.0 release very soon, that certainly will not hault development. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep this blog updated with my thoughts on the product.