Channel filters

Channel filters are a bit tricky to explain but really easy to use and will let you keep your channels organized in a more sophisticated way than simply putting them in folders and sub-folders. There will be features coming in future releases to make managing your filters even easier but it's all fully functional right now.

A filter is simply a set of conditions that a channel must meet for it to appear in the My Channels window i.e. you can control which channels are shown at any given time. The power comes from the available criteria and how they can be combined. For example, you can configure My Channels to show only:

  • channels that have new content.
  • channels that are coming from the same web site i.e. lets you group related channels together.
  • channels that you have marked as being in your blogroll or one of your favorites.
  • any combination of these.

My Channels will be kept up-to-date and so channels will be added and removed to the window as things happen in Awasu e.g. channels being updated or new items found. You can also assign hotkeys to any filter, letting you switch between different sets of channels with a single keypress!

Here's how it all works...

The predefined channel filters

Open the main channel filter dialog by choosing the "Channel filters" option from the View menu. You will see a number of filters that have already been set up for your convenience.

Double-click on one of the filters to open the filter configuration dialog and we'll take a look at how they are configured. There are three main criteria that can be used to control which channels will be displayed in the My Channels window.

  • Content: By choosing an option from the "Filter type" droplist, you can include only those channels that have new content or unread items.
  • Channel categories: Channels can be included only if they have been assigned to one or more channel categories. These are discussed in detail below.
  • Search text: Channels can be included only if they have certain text in their feed URL, channel name or description.

If you specify more than one of these criteria then each channel must meet all of them to be included in the My Channels window. You can also request that only channels that don't meet the specified criteria be included by ticking the "Show non-matching channels instead" option (although this option probably won't be used very often).

Let's take a look at how the predefined filters have been set up.

  • All: This is a special filter that has no criteria specified i.e. all channels will be shown in My Channels.
  • New content: This has a filter type of "New content" so only those channels that have new content will be shown in the My Channels window. Press the Apply button and you will see the contents of your My Channels window change to include only those channels that meet this criteria.
  • Unread items: This has a filter type of "Unread items" so only channels that have unread items will be shown if you press Apply. If you look in the bottom left-hand corner of the filter dialog, you will see that this filter also sorts the channels by the number of unread items each one has.
  • My Favorites and My Blogroll: These will be explained when we cover channel categories below.

If you go back to the main filter dialog, you will see that some of the standard filters have hotkeys assigned to them. Close the dialog and press CTRL-SHIFT-N. This will apply the "New content" filter and you will see My Channels change to show only those channels that match that filter's criteria. Likewise, CTRL-SHIFT-U will apply the "Unread items" filter and CTRL-SHIFT-A will apply "All"

Some more examples

Here are some more examples of how filters can be set up:

  • You may have a number of Awasu-related feeds e.g. one for the main news feed plus one for each of the forums. Each feed comes from www.awasu.com so you can create a new filter that searches for "www.awasu.com" in the channel URL. Applying this filter restricts My Channels to showing only those channels that have this in their URL.

  • Want to see only news-related feeds? Create a filter that searches for the word "news" in either the channel title or description. This will probably work fine but can be a little unreliable since you are relying on the title or description being provided by the content publisher (which may change at any time). You can override this information in the Channel Properties dialog but using channel categories (described in the next section) is a much better way of solving this problem.

If you know how to use (Perl) regular expressions, you can also tick the "Use regular expressions" checkbox. You can find documentation about regular expression syntax here although if you are not technical, you probably won't want to click on the link - it will make your eyes bleed!

Channel categories

We've all faced the problem of trying to decide which category something belongs in when organizing our MP3 or photo collections, especially if something could reasonably be placed in more than one category. And the same thing happens with our RSS feeds. Does Wired.com go into News or Technology? Where on earth do I put Boing Boing Blog? In News? Blogs? Miscellaneous? And good luck trying to find something several months later when you've forgotten exactly how you categorized something.

Awasu provides a much more flexible way of categorizing channels, letting you put channels into more than one category. Open the Program Options dialog and go to the Search page. Here you will see some common categories that have been defined for you. Close the dialog and right-click on a channel in the My Channels window. You will see a new sub-menu called "Channel categories". Click on a few of your favorite feeds, open this sub-menu and assign those channels to the "My Favorites" category i.e. click on that menu option to place a tick in it.

Go back to the Channel Filters dialog (View, Channel filters) and apply the "My Favorites" filter. The My Channels window will be adjusted to show only those channels that you placed in the "My Favorites" category previously. From the Channel Filters dialog, double-click on the "My Favorites" filter and we'll take a look at how it works.

The "channel categories" criteria lists the "My Favorites" category so only those channels that have been assigned to this category will pass the filter. Clicking on the small button with the arrow pointing to the right will give you a list of categories for quick access or you can just type them in yourself. If you list more than one you can also choose whether a channel must be in all of the categories or just any one of them to pass the filter. We will talk about the advantages of specifying more than one category in the next section.

You can, of course, also specify other criteria. For example, also setting the filter type to "New Content" would restrict My Channels to showing only those channels that have been assigned to the "My Favorites" category and have new content.

But wait, there's more!

Things start to get really cool when you have more than a few categories and set up filters to suit. Let's say you are a musician and are really into technology so you create the following categories (in the Program Options dialog) and assign your channels to them accordingly:

  • Music
  • Gig listings
  • Jazz
  • Rock
  • News
  • Technology

Remember, channels can be assigned to more than one category so a feed advertising rock gigs would be assigned to "Music", "Rock" and "Gig listings", a feed about the latest synthesizers would be in "News", "Technology" and "Music" while something like Slashdot would be in "News" and "Technology". Now you can create filters to show channels that meet the following criteria:

  • Channels that are in "Music" and "Technology".
  • Channels that are in "Music", "Gig listings" and have new content. This will show only channels that have new gig listings.
  • Channels that are in "Music", "Gig listings" and "Jazz". This will show only jazz gig listings, old and new.

And don't forget that you can assign hotkeys to each and any of these filters, allowing you to switch between them with a single keypress!

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