John Kaster

Behind the Screen

Live bookmarks now supported on news.borland.com

with 3 comments

This morning, Ben Riga (a Borland alumni who now works at Microsoft) stopped by and gave a presentation on Windows Vista, WinFX, Windows Presentation Foundation, Internet Explorer 7, and Office 12 to a bunch of us on the engineering team. His talk was scheduled for 2 hours, and he went over time by 40 minutes — we had lots of questions and interest. Some cool things are coming down the road.

One of the features of IE 7 he showed of course caught my interest. I knew from the last PDC that the IE team was getting into RSS (and feeds in general) in a big way, because I saw a bunch of people with “RSS Team” polo shirts at PDC. This is the first time I saw IE7, though, and it does have a nice feature for Live Feeds that works just about identically to the feature FireFox has for live feeds, even to the point of using the same icon. The RSS team talks about IE7’s feed support on their blog site.

However, I have to confess that until today I didn’t know how to set up live bookmarks for the BDN newsfeeds at news.borland.com. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of this browser feature at all until today. I created the BDN news feed site a few years ago, and we’ve been so busy working on other areas of BDN lately, and developing a new service for content syndication that got tabled for almost 2 years, that I haven’t been looking much at RSS and Atom lately. Fortunately, Chris Bensen sent me an email after the meeting with a link to John Bokma’s blog which gave me the syntax for supporting this on our news feeds page. This tutorial is also a great place for more information on this new(ish) browser feature.

The behavior of live feeds in FireFox, and the live feeds icon is discussed on Kevin Gerich’s blog.

I’m glad to see that the MS RSS Team has also implemented Atom support, as we will be providing Atom feeds on BDN in the near future, too. I’m also glad it was so easy for me to add this feature to the current RSS publisher I originally wrote in Delphi 7. WebBroker and our content producer components for the VCL still make that very easy.

If you go to news.borland.com and view the HTML source, you’ll see entries in the header for each RSS feed listed on the page, all of which look something like this:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="BDN Delphi" href="bdn_delphi.xml">

I’m glad Delphi helped this go so smoothly, because I wanted to get this implemented before I went on vacation (which has officially already started!).

However, I have not been able to learn whether FireFox or IE 7 support using a single OPML file reference instead of having all these chatty link descriptors in the header of the HTML page or not. This is certainly not a convenient way to list your syndicated content on a page built with ASP.NET, either. I’ve asked about OPML support so the feed list can take advantage of the hierarchical structure provided by OPML (like the OPML document our RSS publisher produces for BDN). Hopefully we’ll see support for OPML in IE7 and/or FireFox soon as well.

I should also mention something important about OPML for IIS users. By default, OPML file extensions are not allowed by IIS. See this MSDN article for more information. According to IIS 6 documentation, you should be able to right mouse click on the computer name for the IIS server and add the mime type extension, but this doesn’t always seem to work. I’ve also had to right mouse click on the bdn.opml file in the file view for IIS management console, click the HTTP headers tab, and add the MIME type for this file as well so IIS 6 would serve it up.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I did just re-discover this OPML problem when testing the links on my blog entry. I had added the mime type to IIS on the machine previous serving news.borland.com, but I’ve since moved News to 3 load balanced servers, and forgot about this little tweak to IIS until just now when I was trying to hit it. The fact that no one has reported the problem also tells me there are very few RSS clients out there taking advantage of OPML. This is a shame, because I find OPML to be an excellent solution to the problem of organizing your feeds into a hierarchical structure and would really like to use it for future BDN content syndication.

P.S. I also know that I need to update the look and feel on this web site to the current BDN cosmetics, but I’ll probably wait to get to that when I get back from vacation.

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Written by John Kaster

April 7, 2006 at 11:44 pm

Posted in EDN, IT Industry

3 Responses

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  1. cool! live-bookmark rss feeds are nice. I subscribe to Borland’s, and a bunch of others. I’ve been using them in Safari for a long time. Apple introduced this feature into the Mac OS last year. I’m glad to see Microsoft is playing catch up.

    corbin

    April 9, 2006 at 8:32 am

  2. Great stuff.. and go WebBroker! 😉

    Dave Nottage

    April 9, 2006 at 4:55 pm

  3. Corbin, great to hear from you. Hope you’re doing well. Glad you’re still finding the news feeds interesting.

    John Kaster

    April 13, 2006 at 11:19 pm


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