27 June 2010

My name is Kirk and I want to focus on Liferea's user experience

Hi everyone - quick introduction: I'm Kirk Bridger. I'm an analyst by day (what that exactly means is a post all by itself) and am eager to give back to this fabulous project. The best way to do that is by applying my skills, which do not include strong programming anymore. So what I can I offer?

The project leaders have given me the opportunity to take a look at Liferea from the user experience point of view. I'd like to throw a few idea out on this blog for discussion, to see if there are improvements the community agrees on that the developers are interested in implementing.

This will range from simply documenting the existing app's use cases (including using the existing dialogues etc.) to doing a full blown heuristic evaluation using the latest Gnome HIG. Other things I'm keen on doing include creating mockups to help describe and explore ideas - yours and mine.

Over the next little while I plan on posting a few basic use cases and some observations/suggestions based on my own use of Liferea, just to get things started. The purpose of these posts is to get your feedback and suggestions to ensure that any changes that result from the discussion best meet the community's needs and app-specific workflows. So please feel free to chime in if you have any thoughts or feedback.

So that's my intro. I like to think I am clearly separated from my designs so please feel free to be as hard as you want on the ideas I put forward here. Note that I said to be hard on the "ideas". Design discussions can sometimes get heated so I'd like to suggest that we all keep the end goal in mind:

Liferea (Linux Feed Reader) is an for online news feeds. There are many other news readers available, but these others are not available for Linux or require many extra libraries to be installed. Liferea tries to fill this gap by creating a fast, easy to use, easy to install news aggregator for Gtk/Gnome.


Anonymous said...

Hey, have you seen that (anti-)feature, when you select and then (accidentally) drag text onto the treeview it tries to add that as a feed. maybe it should validate whether the dragged text is a url.

This happens to me quite often, and it's annoying as hell.

Why is text even draggable from liferea? copy/paste would be just fine.

What do you think about that?

PS: I have never added a single feed via this feature, have you?

Anonymous said...

Sounds great!

There were a couple of suggestions in last week's feature poll.

My usability suggestion would be based on the observation that I spend most of my time in the "unread" folder. Having a toolbar button to jump there would be helpful. Being able to have this folder opened as default when liferea is started would be nice too. (Obviously this is just my personal usage pattern...)

But liferea is already best-in-class imho :)

Anonymous said...

I want a confirmation dialog for the global "Mark All As Read" function.

Kirk said...

Anon1- I don't know of any reason why a user would drag a headline or text to the feed tree pane, it doesn't make sense to me for subscribing to feeds as feeds aren't usually part of the text content read in Liferea. It's certainly something we could explore with the devs, as they may have had a different use case in mind when they implemented that functionality.

Anon2- I think the default folder as unread makes sense too, or perhaps the user could choose a default folder to open on launch, to suit their needs.

Last week's poll was also filled with feedback and I know the devs were looking at it very closely.

Anon3 - Perhaps with a "Do not ask me again" checkbox, so if appears the first time you use the button and then never again for those that don't want the extra clicking?

All - I'm trying to figure out the best way to log and track these ideas we're discussing.

sportember said...

There are many occasions I pass through an article without reading it, deciding to read it later. Although there is a keyboard shortcut and a menu item to mark such posts as unread, I found using both onconvenient. It would be rather nice to have a button doing that somewhere! (A button toggling read and unread would be even more nice!)

Anonymous said...

I would like to be able to find out the name or title of a feed when I'm viewing it from a "Search folder" or other dynamically created source.

Anonymous said...

When "work offline" is selected, the images are not already cached on the disk. I would like a way to cache the content of a feed before going off line so that I can read a feed without needing to be connected the net.

David said...

Kirk, can you please put your name on the UX Advocates list?

See (1) http://openetherpad.org/uxadvocates and (2) http://davidsiegel.org/announcing-ux-advocates/.

Kirk said...

David: I'm happy to put my name down, however I would want to do so as a placeholder, until the dev team agrees that they support me as their advocate. Otherwise I'm just presuming to be something.

I've added my name with said caveat.

Lars said...

@Kirk: Feel free to put your name at uxadvocates. The work you do for Liferea fully qualifies you for it!

Anonymous said...

24 hour time indication is still not configurable. I could do without the am and the pm, saves some space too on my modest screen... Any chance?

Kirk said...

@Anonymous: Have you filed an enhancement request with the project? If not I'd suggest you do so to let the devs know it's a requested feature. However from the looks of other blog posts this might not be a high priority item. Though that might change if it turns out to be trivial to implement.

Might be interesting to pursue the small screen situation with a little more thought though. Nobody's asked for an Android app yet? Perhaps that's something that could be tackled with the tss-rss integration idea.

Anonymous said...

I have just started with liferea and these are two things that I have noticed:
1. Right click on an attached url to an mp3 file -> select "Open Enclosure..." -> I entered my preferred mp3 application.
The download starts, but I cannot see how it is progressing and there is no way to cancel the download. (Might not be a lifrea issue because my mp3 app has taken over?)
2. If I right click on a different mp3 attachment and select "Open Enclosure..." with my enclosure already having been defined, the download starts right away. The "..." in a menu entry signifies that a configuration dialog will ALLWAYS be opened.
Hope this helps and good luck!

Cezary Brudka said...


I've been using Google Reader so far, but I decided to give Liferea a try.

I use RSS reader to sort things between three categories:
1. "not of my interest" (I just skip them)
2. "I'll read it immediately" (I click or otherwise access the page in my browser)
3. "that sounds interesting - I'll read it later" (I use 'send to' feature of Google Reader to send the item to my Read It Later list).

Read It Later is a great service that let's me access my reading list in a very simple way from any computer, cell phone etc. (see: www.readitlaterlist.com)

What I would love to see in Liferea is the ability to push the item into RIL (with my login data set in preferences). They even provide some information how to force GReader to do it http://readitlaterlist.com/blog/2009/08/add-read-it-later-to-google-readers-send-to-dropdown/ so I think it shouldn't be of much effort ;)

Also, making Liferea a Facebook-client (so that I let it publish on my behalf and share from within the app, rather than switch to browser) would be a nice idea (then it should feature adding comments). Or maybe you could integrate with Gwibbler for that purpose?

thanks for great job!

Lars said...

Cezary Brudka: Liferea supports bookmarking services that have cookie based sessions (single sign-on on first request). If RIL works like this we could easily add it to the bookmark sites.

I'm not sure about Facebook though.