Monday, May 24, 2004


Little. Orange. Stupid.


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.


:: Dave Walker (EST/EDT) [+]

:: [/opinion/technology]

:: Comments (21)

Comments:

Ben Sinclair wrote:

Title: A better icon

Date:

Response:
A while back I created an even better orange XML icon: http://www.bensinclair.com/archives/000129.php

Adrian wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:
Nice explanation of why I serve feeds (Atom&RSS) but at no point do I have an ugly icon ruining my site layout.

Q Daily News wrote:

Title: A better place for that icon would be up your...

Date:

Response:
Yep, what Dave Walker said....

Title: Yes!

Date:

Response:
Wouldn't a nice MARQUEE link look a lot better anyway? ;)

Bruce Collier wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:
So well said! I agree wholeheartedly.

Jimmy Cerra wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:
Sorry for being a prick, but.... Technically speaking, that little orange rectangle is imprecise rather than inaccurate. :-)

Title: just thinking

Date:

Response:
Yes it is ugly when orange placed on dark blue background

jenett.radio wrote:

Title: an assortment of stupid things...

Date:

Response:
No offense intended, but I think the answer link source is just as stupid as the question.  What a non-issue!

Title: Awesome Post

Date:

Response:
Agree in triplicate.

Ivon Fergus wrote:

Title: People Who Live in Glass Houses...

Date:

Response:
Maybe it's me or my browser (IE 6.0.2600.0000), but I noted that there are a lot of links on this web page (http://www.freeke.org/ffg/opinion/technology/littleorangestupid.html) that don't show up. That is, they are completely invisible. Nevertheless, if I position the cursor over the area containing one and click on it, I am directed to any one of a number of other web pages, depending on where the cursor is positioned.

d.w. wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:
Ivon... I'm not entirely sure what you mean... Unvisited links are bold and light blue, visited links are default weight, and light blue. Have you changed your defaults in your browser preferences to override the link colors set by site authors? I don't underline links because this isn't 1994.

Ivon Fergus wrote:

Title: AHA - Figured It Out - A Little

Date:

Response:
I got to your website and directly to this page via a link on another website. That is, coming in via http://q.queso.com/, using the link embedded in the text Yep, what Dave Walker said, with Dave Walker being the link, caused this problem. When I accessed this web page via another way, I avoided it, i.e., all links were visible. Nevertheless, it's still a glitch. Have a nice day figuring out what causes it and fixing it.

d.w. wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:
I'm leaning towards it being some sort of css caching issue, or a HTTP transmission error, or sunspots, or something else I'm not going to spend a lot of time chasing ;) .

Tech Observer wrote:

Title: Little. Orange. Stupid. :: Offending all sensibilities

Date:

Response:
freeform goodness :: opinion : technology : Little. Orange. Stupid. Note the absence here... the orange XML icon representing RSS feed links is an idiotic idea. via the weblog of Lucas Gonze...

Myko wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:
I may not be the bastion of design sense, but I'd have to say that the little orange box has much better design sense in terms of discoverability of function than the icons you DO choose to use in your "answer key" section. What the hell identifying purpose does a 7x8 smudge have to tell me a link is a PDF unless I actually find this key buried in the deluge of copy in the left hand column?

d.w. wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:
The icons are used for inline links, and are rendered using CSS. Therefore, if it ticks you off that much, you could remap it to this (No longer a smear) in your browser's custom stylesheet and have a whale of a time.

Myko wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:
Doesn't really tick me off since I don't read regularly. I'm just glad to see that as a critic, you're open to criticim yourself. Remember there is more to design than just the look. There's the usability, there's the functionality, etc...

d.w. wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:
Fair enough... The little link icons are really there to give the reader a hint that the thing they're clicking on is an external resource, and, in that particular case, an external resource that's going to place some additional requirements on them. I'm not offering the PDF icon so that someone visiting the page can instantly find all the linked PDFs. It's more of a "caution" than an advertisement, and as such i think it's about the right size.

ssp wrote:

Title: Feed autodiscovery

Date:

Response:
Hm, I just played with setting up a comment feed. It appears that NNW is rather bad with autodiscovery as it doesn't offer me a choice which of the autodiscovered feeds I'd like to subscribe to :(

d.w. wrote:

Title:

Date:

Response:

Sven — I’ve found that Brent Simmons is very responsive to that sort of feedback — it’s probably worthwhile to drop him a line. I believe the issue of what to do with multiple autodiscovered feeds on a given site has been raised on the NNW mailing list, but I don’t recall what sort of tack he said he’d take in future versions.


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Title: Math Homework Help

Date: 5/6/2008 03:37:19

Response:
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