Life with nntp//rss

Posted by Phil Weber on May 21, 2003

I've been using nntp//rss for over a month now, and overall, I'm pretty happy with it. I like it for the same reason people who live in Outlook love NewsGator. (I live in Outlook Express, because it lets me handle e-mail and NNTP newsgroups from a single app, and without a VPN connection to the company network. With nntp//rss, I can leverage that same app to monitor my favorite Web sites.)

I do have a handful of wishes (the program's author, Jason Brome, posted a comment the last time I wrote about nntp//rss, so perhaps he'll see these suggestions):

  • xhtml:body support. I don't keep up with Don Box's and Rebecca Dias' blogs because I have to follow a link to each article in order to read them.
  • dc:creator support. For aggregated feeds, such as that of dotnetweblogs, it would be nice to see the author of each post in my newsreader's From column, rather than the title of the feed. (Ditto for dc:date and the other Dublin Core elements)
  • More robust. After my system has crashed (don't ask), nntp//rss often fails to restart, due to garbage at the end of the nntprssdb.script file. I've been able to correct the problem by deleting the junk from the end of the file, but I'm never sure if that will cause data loss (not to mention that it's inconvenient).

Those are the biggies. Threading and "virtual newsgroups" would be cool, but they're not a big deal to me. It's unfortunate that adding a feed requires multiple steps (add the feed via nntp//rss' browser interface, then "subscribe" to the feed in your newsreader), but I like the fact that nntp//rss addresses most of the issues people have with other popular aggregators, such as SharpReader and RSS Bandit. If you're happy with your NNTP newsreader, you'll like nntp//rss.


Posted by Jason on May 21, 2003:


Thanks for the comments - most appreciated! In response to your suggestions:

xhtml:body, dc:date, dc:creator - You’ll be glad to know that I’ve already implemented support for xhtml:body and dc:date in the soon-to-be-released 0.4 version. I haven’t yet looked at supporting dc:creator, but I might be able to sneak that in for the 0.4 release.

Robustness - This problem is, unfortunately, an issue with the underlying database implementation. I’m testing out a newer release of the library to see if it improves the situation. I’m also refactoring the data access layer of nntp//rss to enable plug-in support for other databases in the future (e.g. MySQL).

As far as 0.4 goes - I’m trying hard to get it released soon (work-commitments pending..). It’ll have a few new features, and some options to let you manage existing feeds (for example, purging capability). There’s also some optimizations in terms of how the sync process works against the database, and some internationalization issues resolved for From and Subject fields (there’ll be a ‘Japanese-RSS-feed-through-nntp/rss-in-a-news reader’ screenshot up soon!).

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