Mon, 24 May 2004

Little. Orange. Stupid.

That icon really does suck.

Robert Scoble: Why can’t you all use the XML icon?

  • Ugly. Really, really ugly. Has anyone ever designed a site that looked better because it had a scrunched up, retangular orange turd with all caps, unkerned white Arial Bold sitting on it? I mean, really, orange and white?

  • Inaccurate. Imprecise. Yes, syndicated feeds are XML. So are about a dozen other things you might reasonably find linked on a modern weblog.

  • Bright orange screams “click me”, right? What happens if the user clicks it? Well, depending on what content type the feed is being served with, whether the publisher has styled the feed with XSLT or not, which browser the user is visiting with, and about a dozen other variables beyond the publisher’s and the reader’s control:

    1. The reader is presented with a screenful of unreadable gibberish, with redundant bits of the weblog content he was looking at just a second ago embedded in it. Reader thinks she’s broken something.

    2. The browser silently downloads the feed into the reader’s download directory, where it is instantly buried amongst the other 400 files already there, never to be seen again.

    3. The reader is presented with the same content on the weblog page, but styled differently. The reader thinks “what the hell was the point of that?”

Listen, I’m going to type r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y…

Feed autodiscovery is the only thing that makes sense.

If your aggregator can’t handle it, throw it out and get a new one. If your publishing software can’t handle serving it, join the rest of us here in the 21st century and get some software that does. If you need to serve multiple feeds (full content versus excerpts, or comments, or whatever), explain that inline (with, gasp, text) or on a separate “Feeds” page.

But for heaven’s sake, don’t try to shame the rest of us into foisting any more copies of that 36 x 14 abortion on the world.

:: 11:34
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
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People think my friend George is weird because he wears sideburns…behind his
ears. I think he’s weird because he wears false teeth…with braces on them.
— Steven Wright