Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Midterm Future Of NewsRob

Just to keep you updated on my current thinking. Everything might be subject to change.
The Near Future

Until the end of May I want to expose the feeds themselves. Currently NewsRob knows feeds under the hood and you can change the download and display preferences on a per feed basis, but you can't browse your articles by feed. That will be added.

I am always trying to make NewsRob as simple as possible to use without sacrificing important functionality. A redesign of the GUI symbols should help to make some more complex concepts, e.g. full and partial feeds, more self evident.

The Midterm Future

I will then have one or two vacation releases ;) and start afterward with re-working the website and shooting some videos that explain and promote NewsRob. The current plans include making some task focused videos accessible from within NewsRob, I will resume implementing new features after that. There are a lot of feature requests. One is notifications. Quite a few users mentioned they want a notification when new articles have been downloaded.
Also noteworthy on my list of feature candidates are subscribing to and unsubscribing from feeds within NewsRob.

It should also be possible to launch the built-in YouTube player from within an article in NewsRob. Futhermore embedded short URLs get more and more weight due to Facebook and Twitter status updates. It's unfortunate that there is no proper support for that in NewsRob. I will think about better ways to handle those embedded URLs.

I am also interested how many people are using Cupcake then. If >90% of the users have Cupcake installed I might implement a Widget that shows the latest articles or a smart folder doing something like that.

And there is lots of stuff that I want to make better, faster, more lightweight and more intuitive.

Will NewsRob support podcasts?
As the infrastructure for podcast support is in place already it might seem obvious to offer downloading, playing and managing podcasts. But I have to draw the line somewhere and right now the line is at podcasts. I am very focused on details and there are many details that can use more work in NewsRob. So I would rather spent more time on cleanup than on opening NewsRob up for another use. I am also not sure if both concepts play well together. I wouldn't want to dilute the user experience to let NewsRob be everything to everyone.

Posted via email from newsrob's posterous


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  2. Do you think it's possible to have NewsRob scale images from feeds to fit the screen so there's no need to scroll sideways?

    Also, it'd be good if the app cached operations like marking articles read when out of service and then detected when service is restored so it would send out the cached events.


  3. Sounds great, I'd love to have podcasts in the future though. I was just posting on twitter #AskAndy about podcasts and streaming news. This would be a huge help to me, especially since your app is so awesome and saves content to the SD card.

    You rock man, keep up the good work!! =)

  4. @grabiarz, I will answer the scaling feature request on your post in the forums.

    Good news: The app does already cache the operations you mentioned.
    It will not automatically try to re-submit them though when the network becomes available (again). It will upload it with the next working sync though. Nothing is lost. All good?

    NewsRob tries to be conservative when it comes down to network access.
    An automatic retry when the network becomes available might not be the right thing to do, depending on the external situation.
    Consider this case, you're on a train (or in a car) in a surrounding with spotty network coverage. Then NewsRob would try to submit something, will be interrupted, try again, will be interrupted, etc. That would cause more harm then good. And when thinking about this, don't only consider the case that one article has been changed, but that a user used "Mark All Read" and there is a couple of items that need be re-synced.

  5. @Jonno!, thanks man.

    It's not off the table for good. Podcasts are something where I haven't found a good solution for myself too.

    But for the moment it would defocus me. There is only so much I can do in my spare time and I would rather polish the existing features a bit more than broaden the scope at the moment.

  6. While I think a podcast aggregator is nice and all I just stream them directly. It doesn't always work though. Actually if you could just set it up so if there is a media tag of type audio/mpeg that it would follow that link. Either by passing an intent for the browser or music player it would just stream from there. Personally I feel that podcast aggregators should be there own program.

  7. So what you want is to somehow see what attachments are there and an ability to launch them?

    I'll put that on my TODO list, but there is a lot of stuff on it, so that doesn't mean that it gets done as long as there are items on it that seem compelling to a larger audience.

    Sorry. I hope you understand that.