The little rss icon – what makes it glow?


About once or twice a day, we get an email from someone asking why it is that IE 7 isn’t detecting an RSS feed on a particular page that clearly has a feed associated with it.

Usually, this means that there’s an RSS or XML button somewhere on the page. The user can visually tell that there’s a feed, so why can’t IE?

Well, feed auto-discovery works in a very simple way. Instead of trying guess the intent of the publisher and trying to figure out whether there’s an little orange (or blue, or burnt sienna, for that matter) icon, IE will look for a specific “link” element in the HTML of the page that needs to be added by the publisher. We have published a short guide to what we’re looking for here: http://blogs.msdn.com/rssteam/articles/PublishersGuide.aspx.

So, if a page doesn’t have that “link” element, then IE7 won’t detect the feed. Most sites that have RSS or Atom support include this element, but some haven’t gotten around to it yet. So, if you find one, be sure to send them the link to the guide above.

Alternatively, if a site does have all the right information, please add the site to our feedback wiki, and we’ll investigate it.

Thanks,
Sean

Comments (38)

  1. jace says:

    I think it would be really helpful if you were to change the color of the RSS discovery icon to green if a user has already added the site’s primary feed to their Feeds…

    Thanks

  2. Julian says:

    No, it is still not working… 🙁

  3. Dr. YSG says:

    1. I would like to be able to refresh all feeds in the "feeds list" rather than to have to right click on each one and select refresh to see if there is new items.

    2. Don’t you have a way to check if that I only read one new blog item in a bloc, and then unhighlight that item? Pluck keeps track of this. Right now if I read one item then all items are unhighlighted (of course, I would still like the option of saying all items have been looked at).

    3. What is the of the "show all"? Italways seems to be on.

  4. Dean [MSFT] says:

    Julian can you give a link to what’s not working?

  5. You may want to think about implementing something like numbers 1 – 6 of http://diveintomark.org/archives/2002/08/15/ultraliberal_rss_locator

  6. Brad C. says:

    Please examine the link for the publisher’s guidelines – you’re specifying a relative URL instead of a fully qualified path.  This means that users reading this post in a news reader can’t click on the link.

  7. Arjan says:

    There is a bug with the glowing icon.

    If I have two tabs open (this IE blog) and a blank page. Close tab with IE blog switch to blank it is orange do a refresh orange disappears (so far.. so good). BUT now open another blank page. The orange tab is glowing again. Go back to the previous blank page. orange tab is glowing again. ??

  8. Ian says:

    Your doing it again MS!!!

    Why would we want to add an specific piece of code to our page just for ie?

    Just let it pick up RSS the same way firefox does. Problems and confusion solved!

  9. Benoit says:

    Ian: Firefox does exactly what is described here, it looks if there is such a link element in the page and pick it from there.

  10. Angel says:

    just wondering if there’s a master setting to set the refresh time on the rss feeds. Right now I individually need to go into everyone and change from a day to hour or whatever choose.

  11. TD says:

    I have not figured out how to manually refresh all the channels without having to select each one.  I typically get on my laptop in the morning and evening and want to refresh all at once with one click of the button.

  12. Frank M. Kromann says:

    The discovery feature does not work when the page is loaded in a frame. If the same page is loaed without the frames it will see the <link..> and make the icon glow.

  13. kL says:

    Yet another good reason not to use frames 🙂

    Looking for <link> only is fine, IMHO. IE could also check for <a rel="alternate"…> (in case some stupid CMS doesn’t allow users to modify <head>)

  14. {o} says:

    I found this icon often glows without any reason. Especially it glows during the page loading and stops when loading is finnished. And sometimes doesn’t.

  15. Ryan Parman says:

    Well, Mark Pilgrim (a well-respected individual in the ‘feed industry’) suggested steps that should be taken by feed aggregators to improve the usability of feed-finding: http://diveintomark.org/archives/2002/08/15/ultraliberal_rss_locator

    The Ultra-Liberal Feed Finder (Python; http://diveintomark.org/projects/feed_finder/) does this, and so does SimplePie (PHP; http://simplepie.org), and those are written in web languages.

    Surely Microsoft could add this kind of usability to their own feed reader…

  16. Bionicmaster says:

    in my case with the Beta 2 Preview, I can’t use the rss feeds ’cause when I open leftside bar of favorites and go to feeds, IE7 crash… I don’t know if it’s my OS language or code, or what.

    My OS is Windows XP SP2 Spanish Language

  17. codemastr says:

    I just want to say that I DON’T want IE7 to do this crazy RSS detection that people are suggesting. I see it as leading to problems. Adding such features is going to make IE unnecessarily slow, imagine a site that lists 500+ rss feeds as simply <a href="something.rss"> IE will have to download each of the 500 files to see if they are really RSS or not. Can you say DoS? I don’t want the website to be able to force my browser to do things that I don’t specifically request.

    Leave it the way it is. If sites don’t want to adopt standards, that’s their fault, not IE’s. I mean remember the whole debate about "standardizing" the orange icon with Firefox? Why is it now these same people want IE to ignore standards?

  18. Xepol says:

    Interestingly, the article suggests that listing the same feed in multiple formats is a serious DON’T, but when you check the page it provides the blog in RSS and ATOM format right there.

    Same for any IE Team blog page (seems to be a feature of your blogging software).

    Always best to follow your own "best practices" or you are likely to look foolish.

  19. Ian says:

    It would be nice if when I’m viewing an RSS feed after clicking the orange icon, I could click the orange icon again to return to the page I came from. The back button’s a long way away…

  20. Sushovan says:

    I second the problem mentioned by {o} (Friday, February 10, 2006 6:20 PM) here. For me, each and every page that is loading makes the orange icon glow, and stops glowing as soon as the page has finished loading

  21. Arjan says:

    For feeds that have been updated you add "(new)" after the RSS feed text of the particular link in the dropdown menu. I would like instead of using "(new)" to just make the updated RSS feeds BOLD. (just the way it is in the favorites center)

  22. Brandon says:

    everytime when I go to the weather channel http://www.weather.com when I use the feed for this site I got this message:

    Internet Explorer cannot display this feed

    An unknown error has occurred.

    Please try again later.

    Back to previous page

    More Information

  23. href="/rssteam/articles/PublishersGuide.aspx"

    relative urls…bad boys 😉

  24. P Cause says:

    Is there a way to chage the style sheet that is used to display a feed?

  25. Licantrop0 says:

    What about the possibility to add RSS Feed List on Link Toolbar like Firefox?

    Look IE7: http://img140.imageshack.us/img140/2042/ie7norsslink0qm.png

    and Look Firefox: http://img96.imageshack.us/img96/673/firefoxrsslink4dx.png

  26. Arjan says:

    No,

    I don’t like that cause it’s difficult to scroll through.

  27. ieblog says:

    MasterofDisaster,

    I’ve fixed that now.

    – Al Billings [MSFT]

  28. Licantrop0 says:

    [quote]I don’t like that cause it’s difficult to scroll through.[/quote]

    are you serious?

  29. Arjan says:

    [quote]are you serious?[/quote]

    YEP!

  30. Sushovan says:

    There is a way to refresh all the feeds in IE!!

    Just go to Control Panel > Scheduled Tasks > System_Feed_Sync_Scheduler.job  right click it, and choose Run! That’s it!

  31. Neil B. says:

    For some reason, the _display_ (RSS Feed) of RedState.org is never updated. The website feed is getting updated but not the page. Any ideas?

  32. I have a very simple post on RSS and the simple 2 click subscription process with some screen shots that your readers might find valuable. You can view the blog post here: http://blog.leveragedpromotion.com/item/116664

    Great work on a very easy to grasp implementation for RSS subscription. This is going to bring RSS content into the mainstream. Finally !

    The autodiscovery tag is a funny thing. No one ever quite understands what it is or how it works. 😉

    Rodney Rumford

    Founder: Podblaze.com

  33. Soum says:

    I have added a few feeds. But they are not updating. What might be wrong. I probably read somewhere that feeds don’t update when ie7 is running. If that is true, the design should be changed to update feeds irrespective of whether ie7 is running or not, because people like me do keep their browser running 24×7. also when new content is available, there should be visual indication, like, say, the favorites center button glowing.

  34. Will says:

    Hey,

    Funny enough MSDN’s own feeds do NOT auto discover in Vista Feb. CPT. 🙁

    That is:

    http://msdn1.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx

    lol

    cya,

    Will

  35. Soum says:

    The rss icon is behaving very badly. If in one tab a page with a feed is viewed and then we move to another tab, the icon is perenially on, even if the page and subsequent pages visited on any tab don’t have any feed.

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