Mixed metaphors

I’ve noticed that there might be some redundant functionality in NewsMac, the thing is I’m not sure what the preferable solution to the problem is – what’s the best way of marking things that you use a lot and want quick access to?

Originally this problem was solved by the idea of favourites – you could mark any channel as a favourite and it would appear in the favourites bar and favourites collection. Then I introduced star ratings because I thought people like to be able to grade the usefulness of a given channel for future reference. But is there really enough difference between say a 4 or 5 star rating and having something marked as a favourite for quick access – surely you’ll probably want quick access to those sites you’ve rated so highly?

NewsMac Pro further complicates things because you can create any number of folders and drag any sets of channels into them that you desire for quick access. This essentially removes the originally purpose of favourites. So I’m left wondering if it’s sufficient to just drop the whole favourites concept completely and just use star ratings, which allow more granular control over likes and dislikes. I can see a situation where you might only occasionally read a certain channel but still give it a high rating because of the quality and therefore not want it in your favourites listing, but even so it seems a bit tenuous.

The other things is NewsMac Pro also introduces the concept of bookmarks and I can foresee there being confusion about the different between bookmarks and favourites because the terminology is already mixed up by the different web browsers out there. In NewsMac Pro bookmarks apply to headlines – they let you keep a reference to a specific headline and they also override the automatic history removal so a bookmarked headline will stay around indefinitely until you remove the bookmark. It probably won’t make the 1.0 release but I want to have the ability to automatically export these bookmarks to Safari too.

Anyway on the topic of NewsMac oddities, the other thing that comes to mind is the way you synchronise things with an iPod or Palm – you have to separately mark it as ‘to be synchronised’. This concept caused confusion and will be removed in NewsMac Pro – instead you can just pick any folder to be the source of synchronised channels (well with the exception of the ‘All’ smart folder because it would exceed the capacity of an iPod or Palm to try and synchronise 100s of channels!).

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