26 October 2006

New Date Format

For Liferea v1.1.8 the date format handling was changed. All previous versions had a preference that allowed you to choose between two default date formats and a user-specified date format. To satisfy the usability gurus out there this preference was dropped.

The new default format is an item age-dependant format as you can see in the screenshot. So items will have descriptive date labels with relative or day of week names. Items older than a week will additionally have the name of the month. Items not from this year will additionally contain the year and will have the exact time dropped.

This date formatting might be familiar to you. The simple reason being that it was copied from the Evolution source. The reasoning is when you have no user defined date formatting in Evolution why should Liferea need it?

For the few user who really did use the user-specified date format preference: there is a new GConf preference "/apps/liferea/date-format" where you can specify your favourite format string. Note: the old user-specified preference was saved into "/apps/liferea/timeformat", so you might just want to copy the content.

25 October 2006

Bloglines Integration

For v1.1.8 I added experimental Bloglines feed list synchronization support in SVN trunk. Additional to the already existing OPML feed list source type you can now add a Bloglines source to your feed list:

Note that current implementation will only synchronize the feed list with Bloglines. It won't allow you to edit it (because Bloglines doesn't support a subscription management interface). It also won't synchronize the item states with Bloglines (although this could be implemented in the future). The feed handling is the normal Liferea feed handling with the caching and updating options as defined in the preferences.

State Handling

When using either OPML or Bloglines sources in the feed list please keep in mind that feeds that are dropped from the source feed list will be unconditionally dropped by Liferea. There is no warning they will just vanish along with any flagged items!!! So copying important items to a news bin might be a good idea when using those feed list sources.

Security Considerations

Again a warning about the security implications when adding Bloglines source. Liferea will ask for username and password of your Bloglines account and will store it in plain text in ~/.liferea_1.1/feedlist.opml (with file permissions 0600). Also the feed list access at Bloglines is unencrypted HTTP.

21 October 2006

Define additional Social Bookmarking Sites

Here is a hint for everyone that is unhappy with the social bookmarking site selection that is available in Liferea v1.1.x. If you run a installation with LUA support enabled you can add a script that registers additional social bookmarking sites. To do so open up the script manager from the "Program" menu and select the startup hook. Create a new script and insert something like given in the following examples:

-- Registers an additional social bookmarking site

-- Example with URL posting only

-- Example with URL and title posting (title passed at second position)

-- Example with URL and title posting (title passed at first position)

The URL format is your choice as long as it contains the correct number of %s occurences. The exact meaning of the parameters should be intuitive but can be found in social.h.

The described solution is now avaibable with SVN trunk and will be released with v1.1.8.

Customizing Liferea HTML Rendering

Liferea displays feed items using a HTML. To format this output it uses CSS stylesheets that can be found in /share/liferea/css or a similar path. Now if you don't like the default styles you can overrule the default definitions with your own stylesheets.

User defined CSS with v1.0.x

v1.0.x uses two stylesheets for the two supported viewing modes. To display single items (in three pane mode) it uses "/share/css/liferea.css". To display multiple items (in two pane mode) it uses "/share/liferea/css/liferea2.css". To redefine the styles create the files "~/.liferea/liferea.css" and "~/.liferea/liferea2.css". Liferea will then load them additionally to the default style sheets.

User defined CSS with v1.2.x

v1.2.x uses only one default stylesheet "/share/css/liferea.css" for all three layout modes. Like v1.0.x it will additionally try to load a user defined CSS stylesheet from "~/.liferea_1.2/liferea.css".

To find out more about the used styles you can have a look at the default stylesheets or with v1.2.x which uses XSLT stylesheets for XHTML rendering you can look at the stylesheets which can be found in "/share/xslt/".

Note: to ensure using the GTK theme colors do use the GTK-THEME-* placeholders when defining colors as described in the header of the default stylesheet.

19 October 2006

Solving Font Problems

Depending on your system configuration and the HTML renderer used you might have problems with font quality in Liferea. For starters: Liferea supports two HTML renderers GtkHTML2 and Gecko (Mozilla/Firefox/XulRunner). The idea is to be as portable as possible and alternatively load either the GtkHTML2 or Gecko plugin to do the rendering. Now both renderers support different font engines and might have access to different sets of fonts.

How Liferea supplies font settings

The only easy and reliable way for Liferea to set a font for both supported renderers is to set it via a style definition in the generated HTML. Now the question remains which font definition is used. Liferea as a GTK, but GNOME-related, program reuses the GNOME document font setting. So if you are a GNOME user you can configure the Liferea font settings in the GNOME font preferences.

When you do not use GNOME and never set the GNOME preference you have the following alternatives:
  • Rely on the default font choice of the renderer.
  • Use gconf-editor to manually edit the GNOME document font preference /desktop/gnome/interface/font_name.
  • Provide a user defined CSS stylesheet with a default font.
Font Naming Conventions

When manually configuring fonts using gconf-editor you must follow the GTK naming scheme for fonts: <font name>,<font size in pt>, for example "Sans,11". When defining fonts using a user defined stylesheet you have to use the default HTML font family class names.

Not using the GNOME font

If you do not want to change the GNOME document font setting, but also want another font for Liferea you can manually set the GConf key /apps/liferea/browser-font. This setting will overrule the GNOME setting.

Anti-Aliasing Problems

As long as you use GtkHTML2 you can be sure that the GNOME anti-aliasing settings will be used in Liferea. But with Gecko you might get blurred or grainy rendering. It's hard to tell what is the exact reason in such a case. And there is no general hint how to workaround it. But you could try to disable/uninstall bitmap fonts so that Gecko won't have the chance to use them or you could try to find a better setting by experimenting with a user defined stylesheet.

12 October 2006

Firefox 2.0 Integration

The new version of Firefox 2.0 introduces a new and simple way to integrate Firefox with aggregators. While you needed an extra extension to add subscriptions from Firefox 1.5 to Liferea, now you can add Liferea support without any extra software.

You can now tell Firefox 2.0 to use the "liferea-add-feed" script to add new subscriptions to Liferea. You can change the feed handling either by going to the Preferences dialog or by clicking on the feed symbol. In both cases you will be presented with a menu where you can select "Choose Feed Reader". After clicking a file selection should popup. Select "/usr/bin/liferea-add-feed" and you are done!

Note: If you were using FeedBag with Firefox 1.5 it should have been disabled automatically and you can safely remove the extension.

05 October 2006

Unhappy with the icons?

Well, Liferea as a GTK application only uses the GTK stock icons and some self-made icons. If you want it to look more like the Tango icon set this GNOME-Look.org icon package for v1.0 built by Phrodo.00 could be what you want!

Update: Thanks to a patch from Eric Anderson SVN trunk now uses icons from the GTK icon theme for the folder, vfolder, enclosure and flag icon. To be released with v1.1.7

04 October 2006

Wide Screen View

One feature missing in Liferea until now: a wide screen mode, which presents feed list, item list and HTML view in three vertical panes instead of the classic email client interface. This feature which for example Akregator already had for some time will be released with v1.1.7 and should be very useful for 16:9 screens or users running Liferea in full screen.

The new feature caused some other changes. First I had to remove the toggle button that until now allowed switching between normal view and the so called condensed view. And then after looking at the naming of the viewing modes in Akregator I decided that the old naming was a bad one, which I attribute to my not so good English. Therefore I renamed the viewing mode names to the names used by Akregator: normal view, wide view and combined view. I think these are better labels.

02 October 2006

Flagging support in combined view

Today I added flagging support for the combined view in SVN trunk. A flagged item and its menu now look like this:

So for all flagged items the title will be of a red shade. Clicking the flag item menu option will toggle this state. After clicking the combined view will be updated. The current disadvantage is that the scrolling position will not be kept. I'm not sure yet how to solve this problem...

01 October 2006

Handling items in combined view

Judging from many postings in different weblogs the last days Google relaunch of the Google Reader has significantly cannabilized at the desktop feed reader userbases.

Well all of you still staying in the desktop aggregator world here is a new Liferea improvement to be released with 1.1.6. Basically it is a HTML menu bar to do useful things to items in the combined view. Currently there is no other user interaction besides scrolling and clicking links. The plan is to also expose the social bookmarking interface, the flagging feature and a not-yet-implemented tagging feature.

The screenshot shows how it will look like. First thing: the menu won't be visible initially. This way it doesn't take vertical space and if you don't need it, well then you don't see it. Also the menu will only be visible for one item at a time. To activate it you move the mouse over the item title and after a 1-2 second timeout the menu will appear. I think this is somewhat intuitive and expect new users to accidentily discover the feature.