I am sorry, I have to admit that of the online web based RSS readers, this has to be one of the best I have seen so far: Full As A Goog: Chock Full Of Macromedia Goodness
Its made by Geoff Bowers and designed by Firda Beka and is realized with ColdFusion. Looks and works great, it might even start to compete with AmphetaDesk as my way of keeping updated on the Flash weblogs. At least when Geoff comes around to implementing some items on the wishlist, such as user added blogs.
Is it better than SWF? I’m not sure.
Note how, if you change categories, the server has to create and send a new page. I’m not sure how often Geoff caches requests from other servers, but even the transfer cost can be significant over the long haul.
One reason we don’t see this as a problem yet is that RSS just doesn’t do much. The multiple versions don’t yet practically support categorization, keywords, linking, prominent-link fields, or other amenities. Once we start getting real personalized news aggregation you’d want to send the data stream once, and then sort and filter it on demand in the client, quickly.
Matter of fact, once we start pulling from many many data sources, you don’t want to wait until your server contacts all their servers before you even start getting a page to render. In that scenario, you’d have the cached SWF applet which can incrementally render data from each server as it arrives! This would be much speedier than holding everything at the server until it all arrives, and wait while the server constructs a custom page with all this stuff in it.
If you’ll be reading a static document, then sure, HTML is fine. But if you’ll be wanting to get different views of that data, then it can be smoother to have that done locally on the client machine, rather than go back to the server for each interaction. Does this seem sound to you too…?
I am with you on the benifits for the people owning the servers, pushing the task of sorting/filtering to the client makes sure you don’t have to do those tasks on the server, and it also minimizes HTTP requests – which is a good thing. With fast clients that is not a problem. I see the problem for thin clients or people with older machines as the load on the client increases. At the moment I can’t presive that it would be possible to make a fast Flash based RSS reader with those capabilites for PDAs and other thin clients. But I would love to be proven wrong.
Even the simple RSS renderings that we have seen in Flash so far is taxing my Pentium III 650 Mhz rather heavily. And they all feel slow, in that they don’t respond imidiatly but has to churn through the XML before displaying the results to me.
So how is it going to be when the client has to do a lot of sorting and filtering? The parsing of XML has become a lot better with Flash MX, but it still has a way to go in my opinion.
I built the Goog because the Flash Readers I was seeing were woefully slow. I wanted to play with CFMX XML parsing and XPATH and it seemed like a good project. I’d take issue with the concept of having Flash do all the work. No doubt it would provide a better interface but aggregating over 30 blogs is no mean feat.. and when I open up “add your blog” to the system that number will grow.. a lot.
What’s likely to make an impact is a Flash NewsReader for the blended blog feed from http://fullasagoog.com/ (I’ll be releasing an RSS and RDF feed as well as a web service). Am trying to find someone to build me an Answers-like Panel for DWMX that pulls the pre-processed feed… anyone out there??
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