inessential by Brent Simmons

More Smash View Progress

I had to rip up and start over with NetNewsWire’s “smash view” feature. It’s coming along—here’s a screen shot.

The original implementation just used a subclass of NSTableView that allows for variable heights. But that didn’t work for the smash view because there was a major user interface problem. (A problem in this context: not a problem with that subclass in general.)

The problem was that two concepts were fighting.

One concept is that this is, at least conceptually, still a table view listing headlines in a subscription. When a headline is selected, it’s marked as read.

The second concept is that it’s kind of a like a web page—you should be able to click on links and select text in the descriptions.

So the solution, which came from NetNewsWire beta tester Derek J. Balling, was to alternate headlines and description views. When you navigate normally (via the arrow keys or whatever), you select headlines. (The blue-shaded lines in the screen shot.) But then you can click with your mouse in the descriptions that appear between the headlines.

This way the smash view works the way the other view works. You navigate the same way, everything’s the same.

Except that you have a description underneath each headline, and you can click in the descriptions and select text.

For comparison, here’s Jason Kottke’s original mock-up of this feature. The mock-up is cool, but it doesn’t take HTML descriptions into account: it shows just plain-text descriptions. Which would have worked, except that descriptions so often contain HTML.

Anyway: there are a bunch of details still to do. It’s not ready for beta testing yet. Some time next week, probably.