AOL Beta Browser 0.92: Low Octane RSS

This will be old news to some of you, but I’m still digging out… hopefully some will get something out of this…

I played around with AOL’s new beta browser a couple of days ago, hoping to get a sense of how viable the offering was, but primarily to play around with their RSS support. Skipping the former for now, I’ll relay my experience with their RSS support.

1. It’s hard to find the feature at first; it’s located on a ‘slide-out’ on the left hand side, in small text, rendered vertically. I run a 15.4″ screen at 1920×1200, so your mileage may vary

2. Once found and opened, you’re presented with a few default AOL Feeds (good); but in a very small font (again, note my resolution) that, unlike the main HTML render area, can’t be changed.

3. I attempted to add my Feed; in doing so, I was presented with a dialog that didn’t allow for OPML import (or export). More importantly, after I added my Feed, I was not presented with my Feed items, but rather a message that my Feed was “loading”. Assuming that AOL wasn’t spidering directly from the client but rather through a central proxy that needed to queue the request up, I went on to try a bigger fish… Trying a few more Feeds, I eventually realized that the beta doesn’t support Atom. (Hey guys, check out the Universal Feed Parser if you need help, eh?)

4. I wandered over to TechDirt in order to test the Automatic Feed Discovery feature, no joy, despite the existence of a REL tag (I guess it only likes type “application/rss+xml”). So, I headed to Russ Beattie’s site, and low and behold, it worked, making for a nice click+right-click add experience. Only problem? Russ uses a relative path instead of a fully qualified path, so it was added in a broken state.

Additional issues:
– No differentiation in presentation of New, Modified or Old items
– No ability to delete, lock, flag, etc items
– No ability to search, etc

In short, a crude (but somewhat expectedly so) first beta; “A” for getting in the game, “D” for competitiveness.

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