japanfemdom

Coming soon – 1.2.3

What’s in store for the next minor update to NewsMac Pro? Well the usual bug fixes and so on, but also a couple of new features which I think will be big usability wins. The first of those is going to be a new combined layout view that places channels and headlines together in an outline view to allow a new way of browsing. The second will be the listing of all headlines within a folder when a folder is selected but not a channel.

In other news…

NewsMac Pro 1.2 received a great review from NonStopMac.com [obsolete link removed]

Sneak peak…

Well it’s almost ready, 1.2 is feature complete now and I’m just polishing it and fixing a few issues. Mid-November is the probably launch time, although I have a PHP app I’m working on for a client which will be going live around that time too so NMP might get bumped a little bit if need be.

NMP 1.2

Clicky for big version.

You might notice a few UI changes, mostly minor stuff and the addition of the control for switching headline browsing modes (replacing the functionality of NMP’s old tabs). You can still have big icons in the source list and for channels if you want them. I turned off the unread headline column for this screenshot as I’m still working on some new graphics for that and it’s a bit fugly atm.

The New Browser

As well as tabs NewsMac Pro 1.2 also features a newly designed web browser. What I’m trying to do is bring over most of the standard browser features and put them into NMP so it can take over the role of your web browser entirely.

NewsMac Pro's new web browser

First obviously a reload/stop button is handy, even if you don’t need to use it much it’s reassuring that it’s there. Next up (although you can’t tell from the screenshot) is auto-completeing of addresses if you’ve previously visited them. There is also a history drop down which will show you the last 100 pages you’ve visited which is activated by pressing the down arrow key.

Then there is the Google search box, anyone who has used Safari or Firefox knows this feature is indespinsible in a modern browser so there it is in NewsMac Pro too. Off to the right of the search box is the ‘open in default web browser’ button which will load the current page in Safari/FireFox etc. should really need to.

The ability to bookmark webpages won’t be in 1.2, but will be coming soon after. 1.2 is coming along nicely, with any luck I might be able to get a preview out to testers by the end of the week.

Flag it!

NewsMac has always had the ability to flag or highlight headlines if they contain certain keywords. Well I say always, the feature was introduced with NewsMac 2 way back in 2003, and the functionally hasn’t really changed since. Until now that is, the next release of NewsMac Pro, 1.1.2 if you’re counting, introduces colour differentiated keyword flagging. You can assign a colour to a set of keywords to make it easier to spot headlines about specific topics.

NewsMac Pro 1.1.2 enhanced headline flagging
Specifying keywords to be flagged in NewsMac Pro’s preferences.

NewsMac Pro 1.1.2 enhanced headline flagging
Several flagged headlines. The flag colour is still easily visible when an item has been selected. To avoid any confusion about which row(s) are selected the flag colour only covers the headline portion.

NewsMac Pro 1.1 change summary

I’m hoping to finish 1.1 this week and get it to testers for a public release next week sometime. Here is a summary of what’s new in this release:

New features

  • Adaptive interface – basically the interface configures itself differently depending on the task you’re currently performing. E.g. when you want to view a headline in the web browser it automatically grows to fill the width of the window, but then shrinks back down when you go back to viewing headlines. Irrelevant table columns disappear when not needed (e.g. search rank when you’re looking at your bookmarks). See it in action! [obsolete link removed] 1MB H264, kinda blurry, early beta.
  • New headlines item in the source list displays all freshly downloaded headlines.
  • You can now turn off both the unread column (which displays those coloured circles with unread headline counts) and the My Rating column so you can make the channel list really skinny.
  • Podcast player – plays and logs all your podcasts so you don’t have to clutter iTunes.
  • Setup assistant (appears first time you run NewsMac and gives you the option to turn off the built-in channels, import your existing RSS feeds from OPML or just to start with a blank canvas.
  • Option to display channels with small icons.
  • Check for new version option – ’bout time I added this really.

Fixes and Improvements

  • Channels now finish updating much more quickly because downloaded headlines don’t get indexed until after each channel has been downloaded and parsed.
  • NewsMac no longer forgets the positions of each splitter view (yay!).
  • The publication date displayed by each channel is now always the publication date of the last headline. For what ever reason an awful lot of RSS feeds have screwy dates specified in the feed level pub date/last build date tags. For Atom feeds I’m still using the publication date specified for the whole feed, in general atom feeds seem to be a bit less quirky than RSS feeds but I might change this too at some point just so the behaviour is consistent.
  • Other stuff I can’t think of right now.
  • NewsMac now correctly identifies and parses Atom 1.0 format feeds, no support for atom enclosures yet though. I’ll probably add that when someone moans at me to do so, because everyone seems to be using RSS 2 for podcasting atm.

I think this release covers the majority of the requests I’ve had for new features to date.