inessential by Brent Simmons

NetNewsWire and Updated Items

In NetNewsWire 1.0.3, we added an updated items feature. The idea is that NetNewsWire can often tell if an item is updated (edited) rather than new.

Updated items do not get marked as unread. There’s a reason for this: the majority of updates are inconsequential and you don’t want to be annoyed by them. They’re typo fixes, slight re-wordings, that kind of thing.

But sometimes an update is significant, and you don’t want to miss it. There’s no bullet-proof way for NetNewsWire to tell the difference.

I have a few ideas, one or more of which might be good, and I wonder what you think.

Some ideas

1. Try to detect significant updates. There’s no way this could be perfect, but it could be pretty good—NetNewsWire could compare the length of the old description versus the new description. If it differs by n characters (where n is something like 50, or is configurable), then it’s a significant update, and therefore the item is marked as unread.

2. Have a global pref: a “Mark updated items as unread” pref, so people could say they never want to miss any updated item. Also perhaps make it so that this pref can be over-ridden for individual subscriptions.

3. Add a bunch more UI for unread items. For instance, unread counts that now appear as one number would appear as two: the unread count and the updated items count. (As in 22, 7). Add commands for going to the next and previous updated items. Add a new pseudo-feed for just updated items. Etc.

(This option is horrible, because it means an entire parallel to all the unread items UI, but I mention it for completeness, and because I might be wrong about its horribleness.)