inessential by Brent Simmons

Birthday gifts

On birthdays I like to give a gift. If I had a new beta of NetNewsWire to post, I would, but it’s not quite there yet. Instead I’ll just tell you a little about it.

After doing an upgrade just about every month last year, we needed to take a little longer to do a bigger upgrade, to add a bunch of new features.

I’m not going to tell you about all the new features today, but I will talk about two of them. (There are many more... this just scratches the surface.)

Browsing in place

This is perhaps the most-requested feature, the ability to view pages directly in NetNewsWire.

Some notes about this feature...

1. NetNewsWire already uses Web Kit (the Safari HTML renderer) to render item descriptions—in the current version, there is extra code to prevent browsing-in-place from working. So the first step in making this work was to remove code, which is not what you’d normally expect when adding a new feature.

2. NetNewsWire, like many newsreaders, is a hybrid of email/Usenet apps and browsers. This feature is at the very intersection of these two types of applications, which makes it quite a user interface challenge.

3. Even though this feature is requested so often, and even though it’s demonstrably useful, a number of NetNewsWire testers were against having it appear at all. They’re in the camp that says, “Each app should do just one thing and do it well.” I’m in the same camp, by the way—the disagreement comes in when you try to define what “just one thing” is. In the case of newsreaders, it’s increasingly obvious that browsing is part of that “one thing” that a newsreader does. But, just so you know, this feature is an option.

Weblog editor overhaul

The new weblog editor is a 99% re-do. The user interface has been completely redesigned, and most of the under-the-hood code has been rewritten.

There are several goals:

1. Make the weblog editor easier to use and, at the same time, more powerful, with a more intuitive and more aesthetic interface.

2. Fix bugs (things like categories not always showing up).

3. Support more of the special features of various weblog systems (things like image uploading, support for Movable Type and TypePad keywords, etc.).

4. Make the text editor itself more powerful.

5. Add some other new features which I’m going to leave as a surprise for now.


screen shotThere are lots of other new features to talk about...

But for now I’m just going to get back to work.