Favicons in NetNewsWire

I’m way too slow to claim that using favicons in NetNewsWire is my idea, but I think it is a good one.

So Brent here is an interface mockup to encourage you:

Screenshot of the NetNewsWire app displaying three panes. Each item in the feed list pane has a favicon.

This discussion arose from the concept of providing a ‘face’ for RSS feeds; Allowing feed authors to specify a stylesheet to control the presentation of their feed in NetNewsWire. Effectively turning the RSS feed into a trimmed down version of their website.

This is an interesting question as it requires us to define the role of the RSS feed in contrast to the corresponding website in order to make a judgement.

Website developers are under pressure, in some areas at least, to provide visitors to their site control over it’s appearance. Perhaps font size is a suitable example of this. A number of browsers allow even more control (particularly if the site has used CSS to separate presentation from content) by providing the option of a user stylesheet. This option is seldom used, not just because most people aren’t CSS geeks, but because most sites differ so radically that the user stylesheet has horribly unpredicatable results.

This is not the case with RSS feeds. The predictable structure of the content presented in a RSS feed compared to most web pages lends itself to the use of a user stylesheet or at least some presentation preferences. I believe this is a case for the RSS reader to provide the user with maximum control over the presentation of the content – because we can!

In contrast, giving the author this control can only take it away from the user. If the RSS reader is going to be just another browser why do we need it at all? Browser developers will just tack another feature and the need disappears. Unless of course you wan’t something lean and snappy to sift through the information quickly! And here we are :)

If I was going to suggest any changes to improve the future here: Further consistency in the use of RSS feed structure to enhance the control users have over their presentation (Easier said than done!). Secondly provide a means for the non CSS geeks to improve this presentation. For example a preference in NetNewsWire to control text leading.

Further thoughts