inessential by Brent Simmons

December 2002

NetNewsWire Pro 1.0b4

NetNewsWire Pro 1.0b4 has just one change, but it’s a change lots of people have asked for. You can now display dates (and creators and subjects) when available.

Here’s a screen shot that shows Date and Subject columns.

You turn on the feature via the General preferences panel.

Dates (and so on) are displayed only when available. Not all feeds have this extra info. But it seems like more and more feeds do.

Baby Boomer Borg

I want to be interested in what Jef Raskin’s working on—but the Baby Boomer Borg picture just puts me right off.

Note the image file name: cyborg_jef_under_j.gif.

Holy Shit

NetNewsWire Lite scores an 8 on the Rands Holy Shit Factor.

Top Ten Apps

Both NetNewsWire Lite and TigerLaunch made MacMegasite’s list of top ten freeware apps for 2002.

How cool. I’m not going to pretend I don’t like it when my software gets attention. I love it.

Will this wind...

“Will this wind be so mighty as to lay low the mountains of the Earth?”

Actually, I think it’s possible. It’s quite windy here today in the northwest.

I like wind about as much as I like unnecessary surgery.


Weblog publishing systems

NetNewsWire Pro has a pop-up menu of weblog publishing systems. When you’re configuring NetNewsWire to post to your weblog, you choose the software you’re using.

My intent is to list all systems that support one or both of the Blogger API and MetaWeblog API or are Blosxom-compatible.

In the next release I’ll add Antville and b2 to the list. Current systems listed are Blogger, Blosxom, Conversant, Drupal, Manila (News Items), Movable Type, pMachine, Radio UserLand, and SnipSnap.

What other systems should be added? Are any missing from the list?

NetNewsWire Pro 1.0b3

NetNewsWire Pro 1.0b3 adds a separate preview window. You can turn on live previewing so that the preview updates as you type.

See the change notes for more info.

NetNewsWire Pro 1.0b2

NetNewsWire Pro 1.0b2 fixes a few Weblog Editor bugs.

Change notes have been posted.

Happy Holidays

Feliz Navidad! I’m off for a few days to enjoy the holidays.

Best wishes to all.

Joe Strummer

“The ice age is coming, the sun’s zoomin’ in...” Joe Strummer dies of an apparent heart attack.

If you’re my age, there’s a good chance the Clash were your Beatles and Joe Strummer your John Lennon.

“They think it’s funny—turnin’ rebellion into money.”

Not the nightmare from hell

My favorite comment on NetNewsWire Pro so far comes Technovia: “Posting to Radio from NetNewsWire Pro isn’t the nightmare from hell that I thought it might be...”

RSD support

I wasn’t planning for the first public beta of NetNewsWire Pro to include RSD support. In fact, I wasn’t sure I would do it for 1.0 at all.

But then the folks who make weblog publishing systems supported it so quickly and I realized—hey, RSD is here, time to do it. So this first beta does indeed include RSD support.

(My thanks go to everyone involved in making RSD happen. Particular thanks go to Daniel Berlinger and Seth Dillingham, who worked hard on this spec.)

So why is RSD important? Sounds like just another R-S-something.

What RSD does is make it easy to configure a weblog editor to work with your weblog.

See, there are some settings you’d have to figure out manually, things you wouldn’t normally know—things you shouldn’t have to know, actually, things that are just important for your computer to know.

RSD takes away this bit of hairiness from the user and gets the software to deal with it. Which is at should be.

In NetNewsWire there’s an Autofill button. When you click it, NetNewsWire reads the RSD file for your weblog and fills in the weirder settings for you, so you don’t have to try and figure them out.

That‘s why RSD is nice. It means you can be up-and-running quickly, rather than having to first go nuts. Better to skip the going nuts part.

Notepad tips

Another new NetNewsWire Pro page: Notepad tips.


I just added a page to the NetNewsWire site with links for developers.

It points to things like a description of NetNewsWire’s AppleScript support, a description of the RSS clipboard formats used, a list of XML-RPC APIs and methods used, and so on.

NetNewsWire Pro public beta

The NetNewsWire Pro public beta is up.

I so wanted to get this posted before Christmas, and I’m glad I did. It’s kind of an early present to myself—and to you too, if you like it. Which I hope you do.

Dial-Up Revelations

Meg Hourihan recently spent a month in Paris with an expensive dial-up connection rather than the net access she was accustomed to.

Meg writes, “Now I really get it: giving people multiple ways to access their data, offering multiple views of content through a variety of interfaces, allows flexibility far beyond what we get through a standard browser. Offering data through web services or RSS allows users to build interfaces to extend functionality not only because it’s cool but also because it can provide critical connectivity.” is the home of CASPIAN, Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.

Remember, folks, fighting the future begins with your local grocery store.

Cocoa spell checking and HTML tags

Maybe some of the Cocoa programmers in the audience have the answer to this question.

How do I get the spell checker to ignore HTML tags? I note that Mail does it, for instance. But a generic NSTextView does not.

I’ve combed the list archives at etc. etc., but I’ve found no answers yet.

The idea is that the spell checker in NetNewsWire Pro’s weblog editor should ignore HTML tags.

Public beta update

It’s looking more like Wednesday for the public beta of NetNewsWire Pro. And, of course, even that prediction may be optimistic.

At this point it’s mostly detail work—but there are zillions of details. There’s a certain level of polish that even a beta must have, or else you’re torturing your testers.

Notepad thoughts

A number of people have asked me what’s the deal with the Notepad in NetNewsWire Pro. The RSS reader makes sense, of course, and so does the Weblog editor. But why an outliner too? And what’s the deal with attachments?

While it’s ultra-clear to me, I’m still working on finding the most effective way to explain it. This screen shot shows my most recent thoughts.

Random NetNewsWire screen shot

This new screen shot of NetNewsWire Pro shows a few different things, including the current states of the Weblog Editor and the Notepad.

A public beta is getting closer and closer. I’m hoping for Monday, but it’s entirely possible it will be later.

Spring 1.0

Congratulations to Robb Beal and UserCreations on shipping Spring 1.0!


I saw a couple movies recently.

Solaris is like if Philip Dick wrote chick flicks. What is real? What is human? What is love? Etc.

It has all the makings of a great story, and is very beautiful to look at at times, but it’s a bit slow too. My eyes slipped briefly shut a couple times. And this was after four or five cups of coffee and a Split Decision breakfast (pancakes, French toast, bacon, and sausage) at IHoP.

I’d like to read the book it was based on.

Die Another Day is my favorite Bond movie since the Connery days.

Totally fun. Great locations and effects. Good story, good villains, good tech. It even has fencing.

I didn’t expect Halle Berry to be good, but she was. I could imagine a spinoff movie with her and her character (Jinx, the NSA agent).

One misses Q, of course, but now there’s John Cleese as the new Q, and, well, there’s never enough John Cleese on the silver screen.

NetNewsWire Weblog Editor screen shot

It’s still subject to change—but here’s a screen shot of what the weblog editor coming in NetNewsWire Pro currently looks like.

No please

Jakob Nielsen: In the Future, We'll All Be Harry Potter.

Nielsen writes: “Much of the Harry Potter books’ charm comes from the quirky magic objects that surround Harry and his friends. Rather than being solid and static, these objects embody initiative and activity. This is precisely the shift we’ll experience as computational power moves beyond the desktop into everyday objects.”

You have no idea how badly I want this to not happen.

I like computers, and even PDAs and digital cameras—but I like that most objects are dumb as rocks. They can’t see and they can’t talk.

I’m all, leave me alone, you things.

And the things all go—hey, we just want to help you, Brent. We got smart because we love you.

And I’m all, where’s my rubber mallet?


One of the most common bug reports for NetNewsWire is that, when a drawer opens, it can be hidden if the main window is already almost as wide as the screen.

Some apps—OmniWeb, for example—deal with this nicely by shrinking the main window. Other apps—Mail, for example—don’t do anything about this issue.

I’m utterly pleased to report that NetNewsWire, in the next release, will work more like OmniWeb than Mail. It will shrink the window when needed to make room for the drawer.

One might argue that Cocoa should do this automatically, and I might agree.

Yahoo Groups Slow?

Is it just me, or has Yahoo Groups gotten slow?

(I’m just checking that it isn’t just me.)

Nine weeks of Fall

Sheila: “Maple tree photos were taken weekly from September-November, 2002.”

More AppleScript screen shots

A couple more screen shots for people interested in scripting NetNewsWire pro. The first one shows the scripting classes; the second one shows the commands.

There are just three NetNewsWire-specific commands because lots of commands aren’t needed. Most of the good stuff is in getting and setting properties of subscription and headline classes.

Though this is all still very much in progress, I do appreciate any feedback one may have based on the screen shots above.


Quinn is a pure Tetris for OS X—no dumb “innovations” or anything. Right on. I’ve been a Tetris fan since I first played it on a GameBoy a decade ago.

Basic scripting

This NetNewsWire pro screen shot will probably make sense to AppleScript scripters only.

It shows a script getting properties of “every subscription whose RSS URL contains”

Of course you’ll be able to do more than just get data from NetNewsWire—but getting data is the easiest place to start, so that’s where I started.

Just so no one’s confused—the screen shot is of Script Editor. NetNewsWire is running but not shown (since its GUI is irrelevant to this screen shot).

Back from vacation

I had a wonderful vacation and holiday. Back to work!