The time has come to make using news aggregators easy, Mac OS-style. Every browser should have a “Subscribe to this Site” command, which should send a standardized
subscribe_rss AppleEvent (or similar message on other OSes) to the user’s preferred news aggregator, which would use RSS auto-discovery to subscribe the user to the news feed.
This is also a suggestion for Mac OS X to have a new standard Internet application category, of news aggregator, that the user would select in the system preferences. I think it would deserve its own tab, News, in the Internet preferences panel. (This could also be combined with Usenet reader prefs, I suppose, though that’s not my focus here.)
Aside: A promotion to a standard internet tool would require that Mac OS X include a news aggregation application in the distribution. I imagine there are a few third-party developers who could help out here (Ranchero and UserLand come to mind).
This is also a request for all the Mac OS news aggregator application developers to work together to design the right AppleEvent; that ought to be pretty simple. (It might even already exist…?)
Why is this a good idea? Here’s the Before & After user scenario:
Before Subscribe RSS support:
- User finds an interesting news site or weblog, and decides they’d like to read it regularly.
- User hunts on web page for a “RSS” or “XML” logo, or other subscription button or link (different for every site).
- User (hopefully) finds link, right-clicks “copy link to clipboard”.
- User switches to preferred news aggregator application.
- User selects the Subscribe to New Site command (different for every aggregator).
- User pastes in URL copied to clipboard.
- User clicks Subscribe button.
- User (hopefully) gets confirmation page/screen that they have successfully subscribed.
(Brent, apologies, I know NetNewsWire makes it a little easier, but I’m still using Radio right now.)
(Dave, apologies, I know that Radio has the slick coffee cup icon approach to subscription, but it’s Radio-specific (for both user and site author), not a general approach.)
After Subscribe RSS support:
- User finds an interesting news site or weblog, and decides they’d like to like to read it regularly.
- User clicks the “Subscribe to this Site” button on browser toolbar.
- System switches the user to their preferred news aggregator application.
- User (probably) gets confirmation page/screen.
A lot fewer steps, and all of them are simpler (except #1, the eternal dilemma of the Internet).
This is an opportunity for leadership from browser authors, especially Apple, to really leverage the weblog and news aggregation waves. I frankly find my news aggregator more important to my “digital life” than my camera, DVD drive, or even iTunes. This kind of usability could make news aggregation a part of everyone’s mother’s lives.
LazyWeb, take me away!