8:35 PM 25 April 2007
8:51 PM 29 May 2011

To thank everyone who spent the time to send me feedback on my NetNewsWire style, Ollicle Reflex, I’m publishing a new version. It fixes a couple of popular problems and introduces some love.

Displaying the top ten tags

If you are not already familiar with what Ollicle Reflex has to offer NetNewsWire check out the features detailed on my previous post. Otherwise download it and find out for yourself.

Download and install (Updated see: Ollicle Reflex refined.)

Download latest version: Ollicle Reflex

I have removed the link to Ollicle Reflex Black. There is a new method for setting Black as the default background.

Double-click the unzipped .nnwstyle file and NetNewsWire will copy it to where it needs to be.

~/Library/Application Support/NetNewsWire/StyleSheets/

Like the original release, this style uses JavaScript to do some things CSS alone cannot. Make sure you enable it

  • NetNewsWire Preferences
    • Browsing
      • News Items
        • Enable JavaScript

Requires at least NetNewsWire version 2.1 (lite or full). The JavaScript driven magic of the style fails in NetNewsWire 2.0.1 - I have not spent the time to figure out why. Although, it does work nicely in the lovely NetNewsWire 3 Sneak Peak Release.



  • Cookied skin selections we’re failing to ‘stick’ when using the style file name (e.g. ‘Ollicle Reflex black.nnwstyle’) to set the black skin by default.

  • Removed a poorly implemented ‘feature’ which toggled the display of highlighted differences in feed content with cursor position. More on this below.

New features

  • Displays a Tagometer Badge for each viewed news item. This shows you how many users have tagged the news item you are viewing and the top ten tags they used.

  • When NewNewsWires Highlight differences option is checked, items of deleted content are indicated with an inline ▲. Clicking each triangle toggles the display of that particular item of deleted content individually.

Some back story

Perseverance rewarded with tags

Having recently worked out how to load jQuery into a NetNewsWire style, when I read about the introduction of the JSON API, I saw the potential for integrating it into a NNW style immediately. Figuring out the technical details to make it happen took me a lot longer. PPK on JavaScript helped me fill the necessary holes in my patchy JavaScript knowledge. It’s a wonderfully practical book I recommend to anyone struggling with the basics of JavaScript.

My perseverance was rewarded. The tags are particularly informative when viewing some generated feeds that are often lacking a useful descriptions. The top tags often tell me whether the bookmarked web page is one I wish investigate further or ignore.

It’s worth noting that feeds served up with feedburner-redirected urls do not work. Because no one bookmarks feedburner urls on they will appear as ‘untagged’ in Ollicle Reflex.

When a feature becomes a bug

NetNewsWire has a nifty feature named Highlight differences by its preference checkbox. Additions and deletions in the content of updated a posts are marked up with ins and del tags respectively. Although it’s often useful and interesting to see how an author has edited their posts - the red and green can be quite distracting to normal reading.

Reflex (and my previous styles) included a feature to hide and show these differences by moving your cursor over the body of the post. This confused many people who had not ‘read the manual’ and understandably interpreted the occasionally frantic flickering as a bug.

Ultimately my implentation of this feature was too subtle; And the difference between a subtle feature and a bug is a fine one indeed. I have read advice to this affect from a number of software developers who have learnt this lesson the hard way. It’s enlightening to experience the problems caused by poorly advertised features first hand.

This version of Ollicle Reflex does away with the cursor over the body technique to instead require a directed mouse click from the user to display each deletion. Hopefully people will find this behaviour less mysterious.

Further thoughts

16 June 2007

Updated to version 5 to fix an issue with the version of Webkit installed with the Safari 3 beta. Download above.

10 March 2008

Another update with a bunch of improvements: Ollicle Reflex refined


  1. Commented
    8:35 PM 26 April 2007

    I really love the reflex styles, thanks so much for your work.

  2. Commented
    8:35 PM 27 April 2007

    I’ve been a fan and user of your styles for some time now, I like the auto-spacing, and now the delicious tagging details are a stroke of genius. Thanks Oliver!

  3. Commented
    8:35 PM 27 April 2007

    Good stuff Ollie. Keep it going :)

  4. Commented
    8:35 PM 28 April 2007

    Is is possible to default all feeds to the fantastic number 2 layout style? :)

  5. Commented
    8:35 PM 28 April 2007

    Good question Shawn, without changing anything, currently the only way is to use NetNewsWire’s ‘Traditional View’ layout. The style switches the default layout based on which you have selected. My thinking being, you are likely have more horizontal screen space available with that view.

    If you (unlike me) have pixels to burn I suppose you may have room for the best of both worlds. I’ll take it as a feature request, thanks!

  6. Commented
    8:35 PM 28 April 2007

    I have just started using the style in my copy of NNW and it is great, thanks!

  7. Commented
    8:35 PM 29 April 2007

    ah, too bad that you removed the mouse method for showing differences. it is great, and an arrow for each individual change just isn’t the same.

    love the style though, will just stick with the original release :)

  8. Commented
    8:35 PM 16 May 2007

    Hi Oliver,

    is it possible to have layout one as default?

    Thanks in advance

  9. mkb
    8:35 PM 18 May 2007

    It looks like the Ollicle Reflex black file contains the same contents as the regular Ollicle Reflex. I didn’t see any difference in NetNewsWire so I diffed the two directories. Diff says they are identical.

  10. Commented
    8:35 PM 18 May 2007

    mkb: You are correct - the only difference between the black and white is the file name. JavaScript is required for this trickery (and most of the more interesting features of the style).

    Perhaps you have not enabled JavaScript in your NetNewsWire prefs? It’s off by default.

  11. Commented
    8:35 PM 20 May 2007

    Are you using NNW 3 in the screenshot?

  12. Commented
    8:35 PM 20 May 2007

    Lefebvre: yes the screenshot is of an alpha of version 3, although no longer the latest. It may also look a little different as I have changed some of the text colours away from their default. The icons are hidden for the purpose squeezing the screenshot into a smaller space.

Oliver Boermans is a design geek in Adelaide, South Australia: is a place for Ollie to rant, reflect and share. Feed

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Reflex for NetNewsWire
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Auto line-height: a jQuery plugin for flexible layouts