Friday, April 16, 2010

NewsRob 3.8

New Toolbar

With NewsRob 3.8 you'll get a new toolbar for the most frequently used actions.

The idea behind this is easy access to speed up your workflow, but at the same time lowering the mental barrier to use such actions, so that you can add actions to your workflow that you wouldn't have used otherwise.

This is a bit abstract, so let me explain that using an example. Most people almost never toggle between "hide read articles" and "show read articles", because it is too much fuss to use the menu for doing that. But now you can toggle between "hide" and "show" with a single tap. That makes the whole operation much more lightweight.

Even though the actual difference in time between the new and the old approach is not that much absolutely speaking it feels very different. Hence it is much more likely now that you would frequently change between those modes instead of being frozen into one of them.

Large Touch Areas

The new toolbar also doesn't take up much space and still the icons are easy to touch. This works because the touch area extends into the
status bar. As a visual cue you see the background of the actual touch area in orange when pressing it.

Muscle Memory

If there is one thing we learned in beta testing the new toolbar, it is the importance of muscle memory. E.g. during the testing both the old menu and the new toolbar were in place at the same time and it was very hard not to use the menu for those actions even though it was slower. It was just the way that we used NewsRob before over a long time.

So give it a go and let it sink in over the next two or three weeks. Please let me know afterwards how you like it.

I know that a lot of people won't like it (at first) and wouldn't want NewsRob to change that much. Still please just give it a bit of time. I want to keep on working on NewsRob and don't see that NewsRob reached the end of it's evolution where no changes can be done anymore ;)

Sort Order

As requested you can now change the order of the article list.
You can still let the most recent article be on the top, like before, but now you can also decide to do start with the oldest articles.
Using the arrow icon on the toolbar you can change that order and there is a global setting to define the default.

Sync Progress Reporting

On NewsRob's lists you will see a small circular progress monitor if something, most likely the sync, is going on in the background.
If you're interested in more detail you can enable in the settings to see progress reports in the notification bar.

Update to the Unread Count Widget (Pro only)

Many people gave me the feedback that they would like to use the Unread Widget more like a launcher icon, just with the additional unread count painted on the launch icon.

To care for that the wizard for creating the widget has a new page when you select "the reading list". There you can define the entry point. You may now also start at the dashboard or the feed list instead of the article list.

Bug Fixes

There are a ton of bug fixes and small enhancement in this version, but I would like to name two explicitly, because I read so much about them in the comments.

There was definitively a bug in the automatic re-login code. This one is fixed now. Unfortunately I cannot really force a session to expire, so that I also cannot test the re-login functionality 100%. However I am somewhat confident that this should be working now :)

Another frequent complaint in the comments was that NewsRob was re-launched after killing it with a task manager, even though auto-sync was disabled and no widget was deployed. Fortunately someone took the time to come to the mailing list and described the issue he was seeing in detail and at least for this person the issue is no longer reproducible with NewsRob 3.8.


You don't want to wait for two weeks and already know that you don't like the toolbar and will never like it in this life?
Want to turn it off? Vote here.
Want to see it at the bottom of the screen? Vote here.