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Post Beta Report and User Interface Issue
Hi.

As you may know from my posts to various lists and forums, I've been testing various RSS aggregators. Based on some user reports I've seen, I decided to add Awasu to the list.

I installed it last night, and immediately saw that, while it had some nice features, it was also missing some that were important to me. I soon discovered that some of these have already been added in the betas, so I upgraded to 1.1.2 and immediately to 1.1.3.

As I've tested the various products, I've accumulated a lot of feeds. Each application usually comes with quite a few of its own built in, so when I try a new reader, I'll use the export/import capabilities to add the old feeds to the new. As I'm sure you know, typically entire categories are added, and this leads to some duplication.

Because I've been spending more time testing features than reading feeds, I've amassed quite a collection, many of which I will not eventually keep once I've followed them for a day or two.

Sorry for the long intro. Now I'm back to Awasu, wanting to use the new Import OPML feature to import a NewzCrawler export of my complete feed structure. And now for my first major frustrations with Awasu:

1. I found that, unlike other aggregators, which just import all feeds in a single step, Awasu handles them one by one, requiring several steps for each feed, which was very time consuming for this initial import. I can see how, with a small file of a few feeds, this screening process would be helpful, but with a large file such as I had, it just doesn't work. If it's not possible to import them all wholesale (at least optionally), it would be nice to have a Finish button at the first step for each feed just in case the user doesn't want to go through the whole screening process.

2. I immediately started getting duplication messages. I had a choice of OK or Cancel. I was afraid to click Cancel, out of concern that I would exit the entire import process and have to start over, so I just added the duplicates, thinking it would be easy to delete them from the alphabetical feed list later. Eventually, at one point I hit Cancel by mistake and found that I just went to the next feed. I think this could be handled better--perhaps just by a more informative dialog box when a duplicate is encountered, saying that Cancel will only cancel this one duplicate import.

3. I also got MANY channel feed errors for channels that had worked fine with other aggregators--even one for Lockergnome Digital Media! I think many your parsing rules need to be loosened a little.

4. And finally (you guessed it), I ran into the 100-feed limit. What made this especially bad was that I knew I would have to start all over again with the import (after cleaning up the ones I'd already imported), painstakingly stepping again through each of 100+ feeds--and this time, having to decide which ones I wanted to keep. Yes, I could upgrade (for the very reasonable $15 charge), but I don't feel comfortable doing so yet, with the limited testing I've been able to do. I have some other issues, as well, that I will want to have addressed first.

5. Worse yet, I hit what appears to be a program loop. The dialog saying that this version allows 100 feeds kept popping up. I'd dismiss it and it would be right back again. The list of feeds in the window underneath didn't seem to be changing, so I suspect this could have gone on forever. I finally, somehow, managed to get out of the loop, but I'm still not sure how.

Sorry for the long exposition, but I hope it's helpful. If anything wasn't clear, let me know and I'll try again.


Fri Oct 24, 2003 7:04 pm
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Post Re: Beta Report and User Interface Issue
Keith Russell wrote:
1. I found that, unlike other aggregators, which just import all feeds in a single step, Awasu handles them one by one, requiring several steps for each feed, which was very time consuming for this initial import. I can see how, with a small file of a few feeds, this screening process would be helpful, but with a large file such as I had, it just doesn't work. If it's not possible to import them all wholesale (at least optionally), it would be nice to have a Finish button at the first step for each feed just in case the user doesn't want to go through the whole screening process.


Awasu has always been able to import from OPML. The old way of doing it was with a plugin which, if you haven't deleted it, should still be available from the Plugins tab of the Control Center and will import an entire OPML file. I retired it since it was too blunt a tool. We have always tried to emphasize quality of feeds over quantity and forcing users to import 500 of somebody's feeds and then deleting the 495 they didn't want is not very nice. That's why you can preview a feed before subscribing to it, so you can see if you actually want it or not. But having an "Import All" button is not a bad idea - I'll add it to The List. I don't quite know what you mean when you say it would be nice to have a Finish button. If you're talking about the Channel Wizard that pops up, there is a Cancel button or you can just press Escape.

Keith Russell wrote:
2. I immediately started getting duplication messages. I had a choice of OK or Cancel. I was afraid to click Cancel, out of concern that I would exit the entire import process and have to start over, so I just added the duplicates, thinking it would be easy to delete them from the alphabetical feed list later. Eventually, at one point I hit Cancel by mistake and found that I just went to the next feed. I think this could be handled better--perhaps just by a more informative dialog box when a duplicate is encountered, saying that Cancel will only cancel this one duplicate import.


As you have certainly gathered by now, importing from OPML is done a channel at a time and pressing Cancel at this time is safe. We try very hard to make everything safe :-) In fact, trying to close the Import From OPML dialog after you have downloaded the feed will ask you "are you sure" so that you don't lose where you're up to if you're importing a lot of channels.

You don't have to go through the channels sequentially, BTW. You can also set the "Show new channels only" option to hide feeds that you are already subscribed to.

Keith Russell wrote:
3. I also got MANY channel feed errors for channels that had worked fine with other aggregators--even one for Lockergnome Digital Media! I think many your parsing rules need to be loosened a little.


Ah, the age old problem :-) While we have made some concessions to bodgy feeds (e.g. unescaped ampersands), my feeling is to lean towards strictness. Them's the rules! :-) The Lockergnome feed is fine for me, BTW. Do you have some others that are failing?

Keith Russell wrote:
4. And finally (you guessed it), I ran into the 100-feed limit. What made this especially bad was that I knew I would have to start all over again with the import (after cleaning up the ones I'd already imported), painstakingly stepping again through each of 100+ feeds--and this time, having to decide which ones I wanted to keep. Yes, I could upgrade (for the very reasonable $15 charge), but I don't feel comfortable doing so yet, with the limited testing I've been able to do. I have some other issues, as well, that I will want to have addressed first.


For most people, 100 feeds is adequate for testing purposes. If you use the Import From OPML plugin mentioned above, it will import all of the channels in the OPML, but Awasu will only load 100 when it starts up and ignores the rest. If you want to delete a channel, you just have to delete it's .channel file in the Channels sub-directory and restart so you could work through the your OPML channels, 100 at a time, that way :-) Is there something you specfically wanted to check out with a large number of feeds? Let me know and we can work something out.

Keith Russell wrote:
5. Worse yet, I hit what appears to be a program loop. The dialog saying that this version allows 100 feeds kept popping up. I'd dismiss it and it would be right back again. The list of feeds in the window underneath didn't seem to be changing, so I suspect this could have gone on forever. I finally, somehow, managed to get out of the loop, but I'm still not sure how.


When exactly was this happening? During the import process? After you restarted Awasu? Let me know and I'll take a look.

Keith Russell wrote:
Sorry for the long exposition, but I hope it's helpful.


Very. We are always really keen on feedback from people. A lot of people's suggestions have made it into Awasu or are scheduled to do so and it's made it that much better a program.

Cheers

Taka


Fri Oct 24, 2003 7:32 pm
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Post Re: Beta Report and User Interface Issue
support wrote:
Awasu has always been able to import from OPML. The old way of doing it was with a plugin which, if you haven't deleted it, should still be available from the Plugins tab of the Control Center and will import an entire OPML file. I retired it since it was too blunt a tool. We have always tried to emphasize quality of feeds over quantity and forcing users to import 500 of somebody's feeds and then deleting the 495 they didn't want is not very nice. That's why you can preview a feed before subscribing to it, so you can see if you actually want it or not. But having an "Import All" button is not a bad idea - I'll add it to The List. I don't quite know what you mean when you say it would be nice to have a Finish button. If you're talking about the Channel Wizard that pops up, there is a Cancel button or you can just press Escape.


Yes, I knew about the plugin. I assumed that the new integrated import would work the same way. I DID delete it! Maybe it's still in my recycle bin....

I do understand the quality issue. Good point. When I suggested a Finish button, I was referring to the "New channel" dialog box, the first of five for each new channel in the OPML file. I just thought that if it was necessary to process each channel individually, one dialog per channel would be a lot faster than five. Pressing Finish would add the channel immediately and go on to the next one.

"Finish" probably wouldn't be the best wording, anyway, because, like "Cancel", it would imply that you might be exiting the entire import (bad suggestion--sorry). "Import All" would be a much better way to handle this.

support wrote:
As you have certainly gathered by now, importing from OPML is done a channel at a time and pressing Cancel at this time is safe. We try very hard to make everything safe :-) In fact, trying to close the Import From OPML dialog after you have downloaded the feed will ask you "are you sure" so that you don't lose where you're up to if you're importing a lot of channels.


Yes, I figured that out eventually. The problem is that I didn't know that in advance. I didn't know whether Cancel would be safe or not. I was suggesting that some text in the dialog might say that (or even change the button to "Cancel this feed" or something similar).

support wrote:
You don't have to go through the channels sequentially, BTW. You can also set the "Show new channels only" option to hide feeds that you are already subscribed to.


Thanks. Sorry I missed that the first time. (I saw it just now as I tried starting the import again before replying.) It's a great feature.

Support wrote:
Ah, the age old problem :-) While we have made some concessions to bodgy feeds (e.g. unescaped ampersands), my feeling is to lean towards strictness. Them's the rules! :-)


I understand. Nick Bradbury's dealing with the same dilemma with FeedDemon, as I suppose are all the RSS reader authors. You have to draw the line somewhere; it's hard to know just where.

Support wrote:
The Lockergnome feed is fine for me, BTW. Do you have some others that are failing?


There were quite a few. That and the fact that Lockergnome was one of them was what struck me. If it works for you, I wonder what the problem was. I don't think any of the others were important ones, though; if I find any, I'll let you know.

support wrote:
For most people, 100 feeds is adequate for testing purposes.


Of course :) .

support wrote:
If you use the Import From OPML plugin mentioned above, it will import all of the channels in the OPML, but Awasu will only load 100 when it starts up and ignores the rest. If you want to delete a channel, you just have to delete it's .channel file in the Channels sub-directory and restart so you could work through the your OPML channels, 100 at a time, that way :-) Is there something you specfically wanted to check out with a large number of feeds? Let me know and we can work something out.


No, it wasn't a matter of wanting to test a large number of feeds or even of wanting to test specific ones. It was just that I had accumulated that many in my testing of several applications, and hadn't had time to look at them all to see which ones I wanted to keep. Guess it's time to do that now :oops: .

Keith Russell wrote:
5. Worse yet, I hit what appears to be a program loop. The dialog saying that this version allows 100 feeds kept popping up. I'd dismiss it and it would be right back again. The list of feeds in the window underneath didn't seem to be changing, so I suspect this could have gone on forever. I finally, somehow, managed to get out of the loop, but I'm still not sure how.


support wrote:
When exactly was this happening? During the import process? After you restarted Awasu? Let me know and I'll take a look.


Sorry I wasn't clear on this. During the import process, after I had imported 100 feeds, a dialog popped up saying something like (sorry I don't have the exact wording) "This version of Awasu allows 100 feeds". (I think the word "only" should be in there, but it wasn't.) At this point, I clicked OK and the same dialog popped up--and again--and again. I wasn't able to exit the import process.

Keith Russell wrote:
Sorry for the long exposition, but I hope it's helpful.


support wrote:
Very. We are always really keen on feedback from people. A lot of people's suggestions have made it into Awasu or are scheduled to do so and it's made it that much better a program.


Great. It's always good to know that the developers are listening to their customers.

Thanks for the reply!

Keith


Fri Oct 24, 2003 10:45 pm
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Post Re: Beta Report and User Interface Issue
Anonymous wrote:
Yes, I knew about the plugin. I assumed that the new integrated import would work the same way. I DID delete it! Maybe it's still in my recycle bin....


The plugin was a quick and (truly) dirty hack that I whipped up for the 1.0 release :oops: It hasn't changed in ages so if you install 1.1 somewhere, you can copy the files from there.

Anonymous wrote:
I do understand the quality issue. Good point. When I suggested a Finish button, I was referring to the "New channel" dialog box, the first of five for each new channel in the OPML file. I just thought that if it was necessary to process each channel individually, one dialog per channel would be a lot faster than five. Pressing Finish would add the channel immediately and go on to the next one.


Somebody suggested an "Accept defaults" button in the Channel Wizard a while back but you could only create channels one at a time then and so it wasn't a big deal. Now you can bulk import channels, it would be quite useful.

Anonymous wrote:
Yes, I figured that out eventually. The problem is that I didn't know that in advance. I didn't know whether Cancel would be safe or not.


I suspect that your impression of how things worked may have been influenced by your knowledge of how other aggregators do it :-) Anyway, like I said, Awasu will always ask you to confirm anything that might not want to do.

Anonymous wrote:
Sorry I wasn't clear on this. During the import process, after I had imported 100 feeds, a dialog popped up saying something like (sorry I don't have the exact wording) "This version of Awasu allows 100 feeds". (I think the word "only" should be in there, but it wasn't.) At this point, I clicked OK and the same dialog popped up--and again--and again. I wasn't able to exit the import process.


What probably happened was that you had more than one channel selected when you clicked the Subscribe button. The Channel Wizard gets started for each one but if you have >100 channels, it will show the error dialog instead. For each selected channel :oops:. This has been fixed.


Sat Oct 25, 2003 12:19 am
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Post Re: Beta Report and User Interface Issue
support wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Yes, I knew about the plugin. I assumed that the new integrated import would work the same way. I DID delete it! Maybe it's still in my recycle bin....


The plugin was a quick and (truly) dirty hack that I whipped up for the 1.0 release :oops: It hasn't changed in ages so if you install 1.1 somewhere, you can copy the files from there.


Hmmm..."Anonymous". I thought I had registered, but guess not! Anyway, It's me, Magic Speller, aka Keith :P .

I installed 1.1 on my other PC (didn't have Awasu installed there yet) and got the plugin, but couldn't get it to work, so I went back to the built-in one.

Anonymous wrote:
I do understand the quality issue. Good point. When I suggested a Finish button, I was referring to the "New channel" dialog box, the first of five for each new channel in the OPML file. I just thought that if it was necessary to process each channel individually, one dialog per channel would be a lot faster than five. Pressing Finish would add the channel immediately and go on to the next one.


Support wrote:
Somebody suggested an "Accept defaults" button in the Channel Wizard a while back but you could only create channels one at a time then and so it wasn't a big deal. Now you can bulk import channels, it would be quite useful.


I definitely agree.

Support"I suspect that your impression of how things worked may have been influenced by your knowledge of how other aggregators do it :-) Anyway, like I said, Awasu will always ask you to confirm anything that might not want to do.[/quote]

[quote="Anonymous"]
Sorry I wasn't clear on this. During the import process, after I had imported 100 feeds, a dialog popped up saying something like (sorry I don't have the exact wording) "This version of Awasu allows 100 feeds". (I think the word "only" should be in there, but it wasn't.) At this point, I clicked OK and the same dialog popped up--and again--and again. I wasn't able to exit the import process.
[/quote]

[quote="Support wrote:
What probably happened was that you had more than one channel selected when you clicked the Subscribe button. The Channel Wizard gets started for each one but if you have >100 channels, it will show the error dialog instead. For each selected channel :oops:. This has been fixed.


Actually, I'm not sure whether I explicity selected any (although I may have selected them all). Anyway, I did it all over again last night, and learned that the import works differently when you have "Show new channels only" checked.

The first time I tried to import, I didn't check the box, and after importing a channel, it automatically filled in the URL for the next channel. Last night, with the box checked, there was an extra dialog that popped up asking me if I wanted to import the next one. And with the box checked, I didn't have the looping problem (yes, I still went over 100! :oops: ).

Thanks for your help with this. I have a working configuration now. Just need to set up the virtual folders to make it a little easier to use....

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Sun Oct 26, 2003 12:34 am
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Post Re: Beta Report and User Interface Issue
support wrote:
For most people, 100 feeds is adequate for testing purposes


Ha! Busted again :lol: .

BTW, can you tell me what's wrong with my quoting? :?

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Sun Oct 26, 2003 3:00 pm
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Post Re: Beta Report and User Interface Issue
Magic Speller wrote:
BTW, can you tell me what's wrong with my quoting? :?


Odd things happen if you miss a " or a square bracket.


Mon Oct 27, 2003 5:54 am
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Yes, but I checked several times....

Guess I must have been extra tired.

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Mon Oct 27, 2003 9:07 pm
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