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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

SSE to FeedSync; Spec released

Many of us our still waiting to see the positive impact from Ray Ozzie in his role at Microsoft.  Word is that is still coming, but last year we did get something: Microsoft’s Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE).  I wrote about it back then.  Well, SSE has been renamed FeedSync and a spec has been released.  Also, the Microsoft Synchronization framework supports it.

Cool extensions to RSS/Atom, though I wish they hadn’t chosen the “FeedSync” name.  That sounds like a product, not a specification.  I preferred SSE, and would have thought RSS-SE (RSS Sync Extensions) or to be more agnostic, FSE (Feed synchronization extensions) to be even better.

Jon Udell has more details here and links to Channel 9 videos, etc. 

So, who is going to support it?  For blogging applications, I’d like to see . . .

  • FeedBurner (Google)  support the history and tombstone feature right away.  Also, the ability to aggregate feeds with full synchronization would also be cool.
  • How about WordPress?   Support FeedSync directly?

Presumably Microsoft will be using this too in some new Live services.  Other applications?

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FeedDemon.Next or Outlook 2007?

As noted before, I recently started using Outlook 2007.  It has improved my ability to track the myriad tasks on my list.  Mainly this is due to its merging standard todo items with emails marked for follow up* in a single view.

This means I’m doing a much better job of getting back to emails than I used to.  In fact, this has caused me to re-consolidate all of my email reading into Outlok 2007 (abandoning gmail).  

Now in one place, with one view, I can see all the items on my list (of course, there are still too many, but that is another story).

There is still one thing missing, though:

FeedDemon is my RSS reader of choice.  I often flag items there to read later; however, I rarely ever go back and read those posts.

I would like to see my flagged items (email and RSS) and todos together in Outlook 2007.  How to solve this problem?

  1. FeedDemon changes (best, because then I get everything I want):
    1. FeedDemon begins supporting Outlook 2007 tasks, perhaps the way OneNote 2007 does.
    2. Alternatively, FeedDemon begins (optionally) using the Windows RSS Platform (presumably flags and “read” settings are persisted in the store, though I don’t know). 
  2. Or I change: I start using Outlook as an aggregator.  I used to do this with NewsGator in Outlook 2003.  The experience was painful (don’t know if I should blame Outlook, NewsGator, or user error here).  Maybe it is better now.

Thoughts or suggestions anyone?

* And tasks linked with OneNote and, as I understand, Project tasks.

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Microsoft Max doesn’t have OPML?

I thought I’d check out Microsoft Max, but Don Dodge says it doesn’t support OPML.

What? A new RSS aggregator that doesn’t even import OPML?

I’m beyond surprised, and won’t check it out. I’m sure it looks beautiful (as everyone is saying), but without OPML support what value does it bring to me?

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Six Apart Acquires Rojo

I guess I’ve been asleep at the aggregator. Actually, just busy driving a release; anyway, I see from Kevin Burton that Rojo has been acquired.

In addition, Kevin puts on his 20/20 hindsight spectacles to praise himself:

In hindsight, I don’t ever think Rojo was given the credit it deserved. Feed search in particular. In fact, earlier this year when Ask/Bloglines released their feed search it was pointed out that Rojo had been doing the same thing for months.

Just kidding you, Kevin. Congratulations — I hope this acquisition is good for you.

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Ray Ozzie’s Web Clipboard

Similar to his post on SSE, Ray Ozzie’s post on Wiring the Web has generated a lot of chatter.

I see this as really two things:

  1. Solving a major usability problem in Web applications: unbearably limited copy and paste. While we take this for granted in our client applications, we have all gotten by without it in Web applications for way too long. In and of itself this is a big deal.
  2. Then, what I think is the actual big deal: a Web demonstration of something else that most of us have probably ignored outright: the L in OLE (i.e., linking). Sure, this works in our client applications (though I think many of us abandoned its use a long time back), but working between applications anywhere on the Internet? Very powerful. And yes, RSS will already allow us to subscribe and fetch data into our aggregator. But coupling microformats with RSS and a simple link-pasting mechanism gives us (and even the “average” user) so much more.

I wonder how many people are surprised that it ends up being Microsoft that comes up with something like this. This is real Web 2.0 innovation, yes, but also interesting is that it can remove a key usability advantage that smart-clients have over browser UI. Ironically this helps close the gap between the BUI and the GUI (and we know which one wins this fight when the gap is gone). Now, I really wish I was going to Mix06 — maybe there will be more up their sleeves. BTW, I like the fact that Microsoft is working with Dave Winer on these ideas (OK, maybe it is just Ray Ozzie doing that, I don’t know).

Marc Cantor says he loves the Web Clipboard here. I almost misquoted him as saying it was “coolio” — seemed like a safe bet — anyway, it layers well on his work with microformats.

Adam Green asks if Windows is relevant in a Web 2.0 world? He wonders if part of Mr. Ozzie’s motive is to make Windows still relevant. Certainly a valid question; however, the interop that the screencasts show between the OS and the Web may depend on Windows in this implementation (and specifically the Windows RSS Platform), but the underlying architecture does not. It is just XML. So is the question really: is the desktop OS relevant in a Web 2.0 world? Undeniably, yes. I, for one, would like to see the OS vendors fight for their customers on features and not using lock-in. This sounds like a feature, not a lock-in.
Jim Benson uses Mr. Ozzie’s effort of an example of how . . .

We are moving beyond push-blogging to actually sharing information. It’s beyond pull as well. The read write web may well be the push pull web … and all points in between.

I was having this same thought driving home today — though we all have to help make this happen by engaging in microformats and Web Clipboard adoption (otherwise we may end up with a push-me pull-you Web 😉

I’m up for it.

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IE7 and RSS

I’ve played around with IE7 a little. It completely hijacks RSS. For example, clicking directly on my RSS feed link on my blog normally gives you the nicely formatted FeedBurner view. I like this view: it looks good and explains RSS to novices. It also lists several readers that a user might want to use for reading RSS. IE7 gives a different view (i.e., the IE7 Feed reader), of course gives you no options, and asks if you want to subscribe to the feed.

Of course, this is probably a benefit to IE7-only subscribers since the unsubscribed / subscribed views are virtually identical.

I could find no way to import OPML into the reader, ensuring that I wouldn’t really try it out. I also could find no way to export OPML. Maybe this is hidden somewhere in some common Feed tools, but I couldn’t find them. OPML can be imported / exported using the Import / Export wizard — clicking on the “+” icon brings up the menu from which to select this (I guess I was blinded by the strange / docking / undocking behavior of the Favorites pane).

The IE7 blog talks about the “OPML game” and how this new Windows RSS Platform solves this problem.

Dave Winer points to an article that discusses this very “problem” of importing / exporting OPML. He wonders if the author believes that people only run software on their desktop.

Don’t worry, Dave, I’m sure that Microsoft will sync the subscriptions with Microsoft Live! 😉

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