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Friday, May 06, 2005


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Dave's post is a good one, and I basically agree with the sentiments, but the example of the BBC isn't so great. The BBC site is publicly funded and doesn't carry any advertising at all, so the idea of RSS ads doesn't apply.

This sounds like a classic content negotiation problem. Techincally, all that's necessary is a header indicating a preference for full or summarized contents. The 'Accept' header can handle the format.

A header is one solution, but that obviously requires something that many bloggers have no control over. Have you seen the accept header used for this purpose "in the wild" yet?

Nick, the accept header is used to indicate the preferred media type. That would be choosing RSS, RDF, or Atom. This works. Your browser probably sends one with every request. In particular, have a look at what Mozilla sends.
Here's Apache's implementation:

A new header would probably be required to indicate a preference for full or partial content. It seems to me that this feature is most needed on high traffic commercial sites that have full control over their HTTP servers. We could even make up a response header to indicate the server supports the feature.

I always prefer summaries that drive me to the site. FD is fantastic as an RSS reader, but I rarely use the newspaper feature. I prefer to see the full article, with any needed graphics in a full sized browser. I find it too hard to read stories using a newspaper view. Sure I could make the browser window bigger, but then there's less room for the headlines.

Why not have a setting to download feeds "and links"? That way users could select that before they go offline. It would take a while to download everything, but I suspect most FD users have broadband and will accept the tradeoff for the ability to read offline. Then you are not at the mercy of the feed creator. (I subscribe to plenty of feeds that contain no summary at all, just a headline)

Maybe it could somehow integrate with FeedStation. Now that I think about it, I would think a small number of podcasts would be more data than even several hundred web pages. You could schedule the article downloads the same way you schedule the podcast downloads.

I think that would actually be a great way to make FD stand out from other RSS readers.

If I published a summary feed and a full feed, my summary could include a link to the full feed, and visa versa.

So when your going for offline mode, FeedDemon would be smart enough to download the full feed. Simple.

Better still if you wanted to start reading the full feed instead of the summary feed in online mode you could toggle between them.

I don't really understand all the different formats, but I don't think this idea is rocket science and could have a decent impact.

Let me know what you think.

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