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SharpReader and Sage
So, I've got problems with the UI in SharpReader. Fortunately, I've also got ideas.

My big problem is that I tend to take in all the new feeds as one big chunk of text. That's what I liked about the LJ interface; you'd have all these tidbits on one long scrolling page, I could scan through quickly, middle clicking on links that looked interesting to load them into background tabs in Firefox. With SharpReader and Firefox 1.0, I can still do all the loading, but I don't have the scrolling. Instead, it's more like each item is its own email message, when what I really want is a digest.

It seems possible for SharpReader to produce a web page, based on a custom template, that includes all the new, unread items. I'd personally like for it to be organized by category and then RSS feed, with new items in each feed listed in reverse-chronological order. It could feed that page to your web browser, using a local HTTP server. It could even emit clever JavaScript that let you mark items as read in the browser. It's already got an embedded web server that it uses to watch for "subscribe me" links that some sites have, so it shouldn't be hard to add code to handle these other tasks.

I always liked the rendering style used by the Firefox RSS Reader Panel extension. I just did a check, and it looks like it's been replaced by an extension called Sage. This has the same side-panel interface along with an in-browser rendering of feeds. It imported the OPML file that SharpReader exported without any problems, and I was able to use the Firefox bookmark manager to rearrange everything nicely. However, it can't render multiple feeds together on one page, and it doesn't indicate when a folder contains feeds with new items. Fortunately, a lot of my ideas are already represented in the Sage Wiki, and they've even got some that I'd not considered.

One final pointer: Robert Scoble led a discussion at Bloggercon III last week about information overload. My aggregator explorations were prompted listening to the talk yesterday; I'm also starting to think seriously about how all this information flow can be channeled into a device like your smartphone.


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