Last summer, we had a couple of interns on the RSS team here in IE: Nate Furtwangler, a developer intern, and Chrix Finne, a Program Manager intern. Nate and Chrix both did an amazing job helping us to ship IE7 and Vista, and they also found the time to knock out a really cool project. Here's a big thanks from all of us to them.
I'll let Chrix describe the project (and their experience) in his own words. In case you're wondering, the "where's Sean's office" thing is a reference to Chrix's decision that it would be fun to relocate my office to the roof of the parking garage while I was on vacation. Good times.
Hi! My name is Chrix Finne and this past summer I was an intern Program Manager on the IE RSS Team – also known as ‘Team RSS got new digs so the interns got a window office.’ I had the privilege of working on several cool projects this past summer, and had a blast while doing it. Shoutout to my officemate Nate Furtwangler, developer intern and my partner in crime. Though they consumed far fewer Swedish Fish than Nate and I, my mentor Jane “where’s Sean’s office?” Kim and my manager Sean “Romulus” Lyndersay were also awesome and kept me on my toes. Congrats to the whole team on IE7 and Vista RTM!
We are proud to announce that our intern project, Feeds Plus also shipped! It’s a free IE7 add-on that adds two features to the Windows Feeds experience: aggregation and notification. We hope that Feeds Plus will help users get more flexibility and engagement with feeds in Windows.
Feeds Plus, running in the background, can combine multiple feeds into a single, river of news-style feed. All the user has to do is turn on Feeds Plus’ aggregator, and every folder of feeds will sprout an aggregate feed at the top. This can be very useful – for instance, I can make a folder with all of my news feeds and then read all my news at once through the News’ aggregate feed. Read/unread information is synced between the aggregate feed and its children, and aggregate feeds are searchable just like any other feed. If multiple feeds use Simple List Extensions (SLE) then the corresponding aggregate feed will as well – this is cool because you can combine multiple different eBay feeds, and use SLE to sort by price across all of them.
A pop-up feed notification reminiscent of Outlook’s is the second feature in Feeds Plus. The Windows Feed Download Engine always runs in the background, so users have to check to see if new items have arrived. With Feeds Plus, the user can choose which feeds matter most to them and get a pop-up ‘toast’ as soon as those feeds have new items waiting. The pop-up is designed to be unobtrusive—it fades in and out and won’t go crazy and flash every half second—and it includes a handy link to the feeds that it’s announcing:
Feeds Plus is an unsupported IE7 add-on (meaning that it’s not supported by Microsoft technical support or by the IE development team). One important note is that it does not have accessibility support in this release. Don't use it if you're uncomfortable using unsupported software.
Download Feeds Plus here.
So, that’s Feeds Plus. I also had the chance to help design the Feed Headlines gadget on the Windows Vista Sidebar. Feed Headlines shows the user a scrolling list of headlines from one or many feeds with a nice little preview window and links to the browser. It’s a great way to keep content handy – I keep an instance pointed at Engadget that I use to procrastinate all the time.
My favorite thing about Feed technology in Windows is how much freedom it gives the user to choose how, when, and where to consume different types of web content – from news feeds to Craigslist searches. I think that it’s critical to provide different ways to read and consume the feed content that’s coming in, so I hope you enjoy these little feeds extras.
PS – One shameless plug: Nate and I were lucky enough to get interviewed by Channel 9, so if you want to see those Swedish Fish for real, keep an eye on Channel 9 (hint: they have a feed). They’re on the middle shelf above the demo laptop.