Friday, July 10, 2009

Notifications in NewsRob 2.5

There wasn't much of a response to my question if the release notes are needed. So now I keep those to a minimum and post them directly to the Android Market. I'll use the freed time to work on NewsRob instead then ;-)

This morning I released NewsRob 2.5 and I already have a couple of support requests, so maybe here is a bit of a release note helpful:

The idea behind notifications in NewsRob is to stay closely in touch with a very few selected feeds, e.g. feeds of personal friends. Those feeds get special attention now.

In NewsRob you can configure which feeds should be monitored for new articles. You do
this via the Manage Feed dialog, accessible from a feed's context menu.

When there are new articles in those feeds a notification is displayed. This notification displays
the number of new articles since you last used NewsRob. The notification goes away when you open the notification or open any activity of NewsRob.

You can configure in the settings menu if you want the notification to be accompanied by flashing your phone's LED or a vibration signal.

When opening the notification a NewsRob activity will be launched that shows all new articles in your specified folders that have been fetched since you last had started a NewsRob activity.

Posted via email from newsrob's posterous


  1. Hey there - been loving the program and the new version.

    I like the idea about notifications on a per feed basis, but are there any plans to incorporate a more general take on notifications? For example, a notification every x minutes saying that "there are x unread items for all feeds"?

    Also, would it be possible for the "mark all as read" to initiate a sync? I often hit mark all as read and then return to my PC to find that the same items are still unread because I haven't sync'd NewsRob again.

    I always pity developers because the users are never happy with what they have, are they? Hehe.

    Just food for thought - thanks again for a great program!

  2. Hey Arin,

    thanks for the feedback.

    Do you have auto-sync enabled? When you change the state of an article, and "mark all as read" does that, a countdown runs down from 5 minutes to 0. If another change occurs during that time the countdown starts again from 5 minutes. If it reaches 0 a one-way sync is started, that is, it just uploads your changes.

    And this feature is implemented exactly for the use case you mention.

    There are no plans to nag the user every x minutes, but I consider implementing a widget later this year. The request for a widget seems rather popular. This is a mystery to me, but I also implemented notifications that I don't personally have a need for ;-)

  3. Hi !

    First of all, let me thank you for this wonderfull app. It's the one I use the most on my phone ! It surpasses any other RSS reader out there.

    I like the idea of notification, but being on a very limited data plan, I set the auto-synchroniszation to WiFi-Only so it only syncs at home. Do you have any plan to implement a by-feed sync setting (i.e. feed x syncs on WiFi-only, feed y syncs always, etc. )?

    Also, is there a way to access all stared items ?

    Thanks a lot,

  4. Philippe,

    sorry, I hate to disappoint, but I have to say no on both accounts.

    Every feature – no matter how relevant to some – makes NewsRob more complicated. A settings like you ask for also wouldn't help all that much, as the synchronization with Google already eats a lot of bandwidth. Also you can already set NewsRob to always sync, but only to download the content when WiFi is available.

    I have a general problem with syncing. You can find details here:
    If this problem is solved I will re-consider making a special case of starred items. Right now that doesn't make any sense for me though. But I understand why this is a good feature and I'll keep it in mind.
    Regarding the sync topic I have a new lead and when I will find the time to follow up on that there might be a solution.


  5. Thank you for this app. I have been using Greed (Full) for the past 5 months and it has gotten increasingly more buggy and unreliable. Your app is clean, simple and it runs well. Also, thanks for the explanation on notifications settings. I was having a heck of a time trying to figure out why the app wasn't notifying me of new articles. You rock!

  6. Rob,

    so just "great app" without a "but, I need ..." ... Awesome, I think that's kind of new ;)


  7. Any chance we can get offline viewing to also sync images in feeds? It's really annoying to be reading food blogs on the train and have no pictures...

    Also, I'll second that I was Greed (full) user and just couldn't deal with the fact that it never really worked for offline reading.

  8. Nick,

    not sure if I understand you correctly, but what you describe should be the default behavior.

    So you have no network access on the train and don't see the pictures as a result of that?

    That sounds to me like the download was not finished yet.

    You can check if an article has been downloaded yourself. I already had this answered once today, so I just copy in here what I wrote the other user:

    In the header of an article the feed's title is displayed and to the left of the title is a small icon that is either grey or very light grey. The former means the article is downloaded and the latter means it's not yet downloaded. It is a bit hard to see the difference though if you just have one of those states ...

    Here is more general information:

    So why could it be that something is not downloaded?

    It sometimes doesn't finish the download, because (a) you interrupt it with "Cancel" or shutting your phone down or (b) the internet connection got lost or (c) other apps need so much memory that background services, like NewsRob, get killed.

    Most likely it was (c). When this happens NewsRob picks up the slack when it is run the next time during the next sync interval or when you manually hit "refresh".

    Does this help you?

  9. Hi, Mariano. Thank you very much for this awesome app.
    I was looking for a RSS reader with offline storage. Your app has made my day. I have a question. I've reached the limit of 400 feeds stored in the SDcard. How could I override old feeds in order to give space to new ones?.
    Superb app.

  10. Mickimo,

    when there are new articles in your Google Reader account NewsRob fetches them, say 4 new articles, and deletes the 4 oldest articles from your database and the SD card.

    So, you don't need to manage that, NewsRob does.

  11. I love to hear it. And I would like to ask you about a couple of features: How could you keep away from fire starred feeds?. And is there any way to download podcasts included in some feeds?.
    Thanks for your support.
    This is a five-star app.

  12. Hey again,

    no there will be no support for podcasts. There is so much more stuff that needs to be done or polished, before I move on to new areas. Although I think that even though the infrastructure is already there in NewsRob it is a fundamentally different thing to work with podcasts.

    What do you mean by fire starred feeds?
    Do you mean, how you could prevent starred articles to be deleted from the phone?
    You can't right now. I understand that is what some people want and I would be willing to do the coding, but after I found a solution to my Google Reader API problem (see Fetch More Unread Items) on the mailing list.

  13. For some reason I wasn't able to post the link in the last comment. So here it goes:

  14. Right. That was the point: prevent starred articles to be deleted from the phone. I think that podcasts belong to a secondary feature, but keep starred articles in the phone would be a great feauture.
    I'll check you newsgroup.
    Once again, a great job, Mariano.

  15. Great app, but how do you change the gmail reader account it connects to?

  16. Hey John,

    from the options menu select "More / Logout And Clear Cache". Afterwards when you hit "Refresh" you will be presented with the Login dialog again.

    Ok? Do you find it?

  17. The only thing I wish was the option to not sync specific tags. I have some tags I don't read often that have like 100+ articles ... and they prevent the tags I read with 3-4 articles from being updated.

    So ... a "do not sync this tag" would be very useful I think. Other than that, the app is perfect :)

  18. Lincoln,

    I hate to disappoint, but I have to say no.

    I have a technical problem with that, as I can't ask the Google Reader API for anything, but articles that have those two labels.

    But even though I understand that there are many particular needs for tweaking NewsRob's behavior, a more general need is simplicity and therefore I would have to say no anyway. I understand that you are now on the receiving end of this "No", but think of all the other "No"s on stuff that you don't see as relevant and would clutter the app for you. Ok?

    You can lessen the burden on your phone if you go to the Manage Feed dialog of all the feeds in that particular label and set it to "Headers only", then for those feeds neither the images nor the web page will be downloaded.

  19. Thanks for the reply. just a quick question... even though I set my capacity to 300, on the 'all articles' page I only see 72 articles or so listed under 'my articles' after repeated sync.

    It is because of my read articles... Is there any way to get rid of them?! When I unhide them I have 300 articles ...

    I know you want to keep the app simple, but an option 'purge read articles on sync' would be useful and would prevent this from happening ... and would permit the app to use less space on the sd card ... :)

  20. Hey Lincoln,

    I am really sorry to say this, but it is the same problem. The Google Reader API doesn't give me what I need yet. I am not giving up on that though and have a new lead into the Google Reader team. In any case it will take a little bit more time as there is so much other stuff on my todo list. But there is a silver lining ...

    Here is a bit of the back story:

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Cool app, However. I'd like it if when you choose to hide read articles, it'd still show the empty folders/tags/feeds, just with a 0 after them.

  23. Hey DarkFox,

    sorry for brushing off this request, but I think that most users would find this distracting, just consider somebody with, say, 250 feeds and only 10 feeds with articles.

    Hence the requested behavior cannot be the default. On the other hand I want NewsRob to be simple and even if from your perspective a configuration switch seems appropriate this really doesn't scale. Those switches add up and make NewsRob more complicated.

    I hope that you understand my point of view.


  24. Hi,
    I have a problem with newsrob. The application sync with google reader to download the feeds is good but when I mark some post as read, these post aren't mark as read in google reader. This is an error or the application can't do this.

    Thanks and sorry for my english.

  25. Hey,

    this should absolutely work the way you describe it, otherwise it would be a bug.

    Do you have auto-sync enabled? Settings/Auto Synchronization/Enabled?

    Could you please do me a favor?

    (a) Go to Google Reader click on "all items" ...
    (b) Memorize the first article there
    (c) Go to NewsRob, hit "Refresh"
    (d) Wait for the sync to end
    (e) Go to all articles/all articles and search for the article you memorized under (b)
    (f) open it, so that it is marked as read
    (g) wait 8 minutes (or hit Refresh again and wait for the sync to end)
    (h) Go to Google Reader and click on "all items" again
    (i) You shouldn't see the article anymore that you memorized under (b) and marked as read under (f)


  26. Hi Mariano,

    Congratulations for Newsrob, it's definitely the best android rss reader including the paid ones, and the google integration makes it a must have for me.

    I would like to ask for a feature: I have seen something I liked in another reader, Greed. Apparently, it resized the feeds' images to fit the screen width so you wouldn't have to move left and right to see them. That was pretty handy, any way to see it in Newsrob?

    Thanks again.

  27. Also, is there something I can do to help translate it to Spanish?

  28. Great app!

    NewsRob is definetly the best android RSS reader out there. Would be even better if it would be a standalone solution (not only a Google Reader sync). I never used Google Reader but since i liked the NewsRob UI so much i ported all my feeds to Google Reader only to sync them back to my device! :)

    One question:

    Even after i mark articles as "read", the overview of each feed will still show me the Number of all articles. This is a little bit confusing. (im using NewsRob on htc hero)

    Wouldn't it be better to at least show how many of the 300 Items i have already read?

    In example showing:

    Engadget (10/199) -> 199 articles in Feed but only 10 new articles.

    Otherwise its a bit of a hassle to open each feed seperatly to check for new articles. I don't want to check the "ALL" category everytime only to see how many new feeds have arrived.

    I already use the notifications, and like the way its implemented. But i don't like that you lose the info of the new feeds as soon as you switch back to the main view. There should be an option to show the new feeds per category at each point for the last sync.

    best regards,

  29. Hi Shahpur,

    thanks very much for your feedback.

    Did you notice that there is a menu option "Hide read articles"? I think that should pretty much do what you are looking for. In one of the upcoming versions there will be a more elaborate solution:

    Regarding notifications. I am not a fan of introducing options. That makes the software hard to use and comprehend. I really hate that. Of course the one option you ask for doesn't make that much of a difference and, in your opinion, this one option is justified, but those options add up quickly ;-(

    I hope that works for you.


  30. Hi mariano,

    Thanks for the quick answer. I have noticed the hide function, but i would like to see old articles too without having to switch view every time :)

    Seeing read/unread articles is a very basic rss reader option, would be great if you could optimize this.

  31. Yeah, as mentioned above more is underway.

  32. Hi,

    sorry i was on the road and posted using my htchero. I have now checked out the link you mentioned and i think that would be a great solution (marking feeds in green if there are unread items). It wouldn't show how many item, but this is still a good solution.

    Another thing which i realised during updating my feeds on an wifi hotspot just a few minutes ago:

    i have about 12 feeds i'm reading and about 20-40 new articles at every hour at the most. i noticed that newsrob took about 6 minutes to update the feeds and import 5 new items (setting: import complete feeds but no webpages). Is this a connection issue, or does newsrob work kind of slow? I'm coming from windowsmobile and the build in rss reader (from iluimsoft) would update all my feeds (up to 60 articles) within one minute.


  33. It depends very much on your connection and you can set NewsRob to only sync via WiFi.

    Having said that, yes, NewsRob is slow or at least doing a lot.
    It is downloading the offline content (does the WiMo rss reader do that? I guess not, and in NewsRob you can also turn off that part) and in the process needs to parse pages to find which assets to make available offline.
    But the most important thing is that it needs to query GR for the metadata during each sync, as this is currently the only way that I can know when something changed on the server.

    This is the reason that the capacity is limited to 500.
    Please read this if you are interested in the background.

    I am currently working unofficially with an Google engineer and hope that we will come up with something better, but right now, there is a lot of work in it and not much to show for.

    If you want to join the discussion, please consider using the mailing list. This way other people can pitch in too.

    I will only have very limited connectivity until Friday, and from Saturday night to next Friday next week.