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OmniWeb 5.1 Wishlist & RSS News Reading

I’ve been using OmniWeb 5 for a week or so now, and I really like it. As has been written elsewhere, one trades off some stability and rendering capabilities for some very nice application features — features which one can get used to very fast! I’ve heard OmniWeb 5.1 is on its way, and following is my wishlist:

1. Improved installation. A lot of people (myself included) have experienced problems running OmniWeb 5.0 on systems that have run previous OmniWeb 5 betas. The solution is to delete a variety of files. The application itself should handle this situation a lot better, since many of the problems are of a nature that the user wouldn’t naturally relate to use of a previous beta.

2. Synchronisation. Safari’s bookmark synchronisation just works. The bookmarks between my G5 and Powerbook are just always up to date, and in synch. With OmniWeb, apart from the initial synchronization, they do not stay in sync. This is particularly problematic when using OmniWeb as an RSS reader. Maybe I just don’t know how it’s supposed to work, but with Safari, I didn’t need to know, it just did.

3. Dock. Add the Bookmark menu to the Dock icon.

4. Changed content. Add the “Check for Changes” contextual menu item (from the Bookmarks window) to other application menus.

5. Unread content. Add the unread content “Open All in Tabs” Dock menu item to other application menus.

6. RSS Subscription. Get the RSS subscription button at the bottom right corner of windows working properly. OmniWeb has this clever ability to detect RSS feeds, and add a little “+” button to the bottom of Windows. However, when you click on this button, you’ll end up with an RSS feed titled “RSS” or “RSS 1.0”, etc. Other RSS subscription mechanisms in OmniWeb (such as just clicking on a feed link) determine the proper feed name before adding the feed to the bookmarks, and this should be the behaviour of that subscribe button.

7. Fix bugs. There are some bugs, such as the fact that the “Unviewed Content” bookmark window “collector” doesn’t always remain up-to-date.

I think one of the most interesting discoveries I’ve had using OmniWeb, is that I may actually prefer it as an RSS reader to the more full-featured, dedicated RSS readers like PulpFiction and NetNewsWire. Possibly that boils down to the following:

1. When I’m surfing, OmniWeb makes it dead easy to subscribe to feeds that I find. If a page has a feed, I just have to click the feed link. That’s it. With an dedicated reader, I have to copy the link, switch to the reader, switch to it’s subscription management area, add the link, possibly specify a label, possibly configure filters, etc.

2. The OmniWeb Dock item lists the number of unread articles. By selecting “Open All in Tabs”, I immediately get a single browser window, that opens each unread article in a separate tab. I have found this to be a very, very attractive way to quickly open and read new content.

3. The above has the advantage that I’m reading all article content in the context of the website, and not just the text content (description) from the feed. I find that more engaging. (Many of the dedicated RSS readers have built-in browsers, but it’s just not the same experience as using your primary brower.)

4. In theory, OmniWeb’s bookmark synchronization management should keep my RSS read/unread content state synchronized between my G5 and my laptop (which is something no RSS reader has addressed yet…) Either I’ve not figured it out, or it doesn’t work well. Hopefully I’ll get that clarified, or it’ll be addressed in OmniWeb 5.1…

Overall, there’s a lot to like about having RSS reader features — even if only basic features — within one’s primary browser. You give up a lot of functionality (relevant to today’s RSS reader landscape), but if 90% of your reader usage is improved, it may be worth the trade-off.

Anyway, for those of us who enjoy reading RSS feeds, there’s a lot to look forward to. Safari 2 will have RSS features. OmniWeb will improve. And PulpFiction 2 and NetNewsWire 2 are on the way.

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