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Bloglines Beta – Even Faster!

Earlier this week, we released another round of improvements
for Bloglines Beta:.

It’s Faster

Most people have commented on how fast the Bloglines Beta is, much faster than the classic site. However, a web site can never be too fast! Will, Bjorn and Ben have been reviewing the front-end code looking for

ways to shave time off common actions. Hold onto your seats, you’ll definitely feel the speed improvements especially in QuickView and 3-Pane View. We hope you relish the time saved not waiting to download. We are.

Back-button Support

Because sometimes in life, you do need to go backwards to go forwards. Now you can use the browser’s back button like on standard web sites. Hitting the back button will take you to the previously loaded screen.

Expandable Start Page Modules

Some feeds just demand more space on your start page. Now you can change the size of the start page modules with a simple drag-and-expand of the lower right-hand corner of the module.

Better Support for Smaller Screens

We’ve noticed a number of Blogliners complaining that they were not able to see the “Mark All Read” and “Edit” buttons in the feed header. We’ve modified the header to better support smaller screen sizes and those who use a narrower browser window.

Enjoy!

– Eric Engleman & The Bloglines Team

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Sew,Mama,Sew! on the Move

Warning: This post might cause strong reactions. Please do not operate heavy machinery while reading.

Sew, Mama, Sew! debuts this week in the Bloglines Top 1000, climbing 790 spots from last week to claim the title of Biggest Mover. It leapt over top feeds like USATODAY.com Travel – Top Stories and the Drudge Report. Other feeds on the move include Marc Andreessen’s blog.pmarca.com, Design*Sponge, and MIT’s Technology Review Feed. Coming in at 1000 and debuting for the first time is 1000 Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. It’s a great example of a independent voice that has attracted a strong community. Pioneer Woman has great stories and sweet photos (we love the cinnamon rolls.)

Why the Bloglines Top 1000?

People ask us all the time about what Blogliners read. We’ve had the Bloglines Top 200 for the last couple of years, but wanted to highlight even more independent voices. We felt this was important because many have been lamenting the demise of blogging. As you can see, there are a number of great blogs and even more on the way.Blogliners subscribe to tech feeds like Slashdot, Gizmodo and Boing-Boing, however, Blogliners also subscribe to non-tech feeds like Comics, Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day, Yarn Harlot, New Urban Legends and Cute Overload (a staff favorite). The Bloglines Top 1000 covers a wide spectrum of sites. Be sure to spend some time perusing the list; it’s a great way to see what your fellow Blogliners are reading.

How do you calculate the Bloglines Top 1000?

We don’t want to go into too much detail, but at the core, we’re tracking the number of “active” subscribers who interact with a feed during a specific time period. We’re assuming some individuals will attempt to game the system, so we’re going to keep the actual method somewhat quiet for now. Be sure to not though, we are tracking individual feed URLs, so some sites may have multiple listings.

Do feeds in the default packages rise to the top?

Default feeds or “Quick Picks” receive additional promotion which do cause them rise to the top. Many of the our current packs are a bit old and we’re in the process of updating the packs as part of our redesign, based on feedback from Blogliners.

Does the Bloglines Top 1000 illustrate any larger trends?

Yes, we think so. Feeds are being generated by a wide-variety of sites and are being consumed by an ever broader set of people; they’re not just for blogs or just for the technically inclined.

Does this herald the end of blogging?

Contrary to what some may say, no. People crave social connection; blogging will continue.

Is Bloglines attacking Technorati’s final stronghold?

Not at all. Bloglines has had a listing of top feeds for several years, though it used to only be the top 200. We’re updating the rankings and our methodology as part of our redesign.

Today’s Trifecta! – OpenID Support, Mobile and New Personalization Preferences

It’s been a fast and furious last few weeks as the Bloglines Team has released four releases in four weeks. We’ve released “Pin”, “Email Post”, inline styles, and now as of today support for OpenID. New Personalization Preferences and Bloglines Beta Mobile. We went back and forth about how we should get the word out. Should we post over several days, make one massive post, or break it up into different posts,We decided to launch at once and blog at once; we have detailed posts for each of these releases, in case you want to read more.

  • OpenID – Bloglines Beta and Bloglines Classic will both support OpenID. Going forward we’ll support consuming OpenID, OpenID 2.0 and are investigating the use of other Open Standards such as oAuth and APML.
  • Mobile – Bloglines Beta now has a new version of Bloglines Mobile with additional features such as the “Start Page”, “Pin” and improved browser support.
  • New Personalization Preferences – Bloglines Beta has added several new personalization features as well as implementing support for the current feed reading personalization features.

We’re going to keep the pace up and continue releasing features left and right.

Enjoy!!

– Eric Engleman and the Bloglines Team

OpenID is now Open for Blogliners

Today is our first release devoted to supporting OpenID for Bloglines Classic and Bloglines Beta. In the near future, Bloglines will also support consuming OpenIDs and OpenID 2.0 which was just released this week.

Now our more technical users will know right way what’s going on and will be excited. In that case, you can go to id.bloglines.com and get started. Note – OpenID is just the beginning of us working with true open standards. Other formats getting our attention include oAuth (Open Authentication) and APML (Attention Profiling Mark-up Language). For the rest of you, let me outline a little bit about OpenID and what it will offer you in the future.

OpenID allows you to create an identity online and use that identity to login to any OpenID supported site. In other words, you will no longer need to create a new username and password for every single website. How many times have you gone to a site and forgotten your login. You might ask yourself, was the username “joe578” or “joejoe” or “bigjoe” or “joeanne?”

Now you can imagine that if your favorite sites allowed you to login with a single ID you would be able combine services and create some pretty cool mashups. You would be able to pick and choose the sites you like to use and the features you want.

While OpenID is getting some momentum from major sites who have offered OpenIDs, it is still very early. So in the meantime, you will still need multiple IDs. But keep looking for the OpenID symbol. You will see it popping up more and more.

If you’re looking to get better informed about OpenID you can check out the OpenID Foundation or a few of the bloggers who cover the topic.

Enjoy!

– Rob Emanuele and the Bloglines Team

Bloglines Beta Goes Mobile

Bloglines has had a leading mobile feed reader for the last couple of years. It’s always been one of our key product strengths. So we were really excited to make our mobile product even better. We were busy over the summer re-writing the mobile code from the ground up. A new version of mobile is available as part of the Bloglines Beta Releases. Go to m.beta.bloglines.com on your cell phone. When we feel it’s ready, we’ll make it available on Bloglines Classic. Key Features

  • Start Page – Your Bloglines Start Page is displayed at the top of the screen. This way you can pull your favorite feeds to the top.
  • Pin (formerly known as Keep New) – Sometimes you want to save that special post to read later when you’re not on the go.
  • Pagination – Instead of loading all of your posts, we parse out the posts into smaller bundles to fit into the memory constraints of cell phone browser. This has numerous benefits including improved speed, better reliability and safer “mark read” behavior.

Enjoy!

– Kelvin Nishikawa and the Bloglines Team

Personalization Preferences

We’ve been comparing our fall release cycle to a mad-dash European tour. If it’s Tuesday, it must be Paris. It’s Tuesday!We’re probably launching our latest release for Bloglines Beta.

Today’s release focuses on the personalization settings to optimize your feed reading experience. We have a combination of something old, something new, something borrowed and of course, the site is blue.

Where to go?

Look in the header and you’ll see the word “settings.” Click on it. The personalization settings page will appear.

What’s New?

  • Mark Individual Posts as Read – You can now choose between Bloglines Classic or Bloglines Beta mark read behavior. You can either mark individual posts as read or mark the entire folder as read.  The current default is to mark individual feeds read. We’ll continue to monitor the comments around this setting closely. We know this is very important to our long-time Blogliners. In addition, I want to thank those who gave us feedback commented in the forums or posted on the web. Note – we want to make sure the people who have stood by Bloglines continue to do so. So we’re listening to you all.
  • Remember View – Many people like to have a single view across all of their feeds.  This way there is consistency for feed reading. However, some have discovered the beauty of selecting different views for different feeds. For example, many like to read feeds with lots posts in quick view whereas comic feeds look better in Full View.  To each his own. The current default is to have all feeds stick with one view.
  • Use Feed CSS – CSS Support can be turned on or off. CSS means we will deliver the feed in the style as defined by the publisher. The current default is to have CSS Support on.

What’s Old?

  • Phone and Mobile settings – Fine tune your experience to make the most when you’re on the go.
  • User settings such as creating a user name which is necessary to establish an OpenID with Bloglines
  • Change email and password.

Now Something a little Different

  • Sort Oldest/Sort Newest – You’ll notice this no longer a global preference available from the settings page. Now when you click sort Oldest/Sort News is changes the sorting view for all feeds.

We appreciate all the support you’ve given us over the years.

Enjoy!

– Eric Engleman and the Bloglines Team

CSS Support for Feeds

Last night, we released support for publisher defined style-sheets. This means going forward Bloglines will display publisher created CSS (cascading style-sheets) in the main reading views.

Why Do Publishers use CSS?

Most publishers use CSS to ensure content is designed consistently across browsers. If the publisher uses CSS in their feed, you’ll see the publishers style-sheet.

What does this mean for me?

You’ll see the content as the publisher designed it. A good example brought to our attention is the use of the “float” tag. Many bloggers use this tag to wrap text around an image. In the past, we wouldn’t wrap the text around the image. Now we do. There are lots of other examples of how the content will be displayed a little differently. A full list of all of the CSS style attributes we support is located here.

For the most part everyone, will benefit because most publishers attempt to make their feeds readable for feed readers.  In addition, we figure that the people who track a few of their friends’ feeds will probably like to see more for their friends “style” in their feed reader.  However, some publishers might make stylistic decisions which might make it hard for people to scan content quickly (small grey typeface on a black-background). That’s why we built an option to turn this CSS Support off. If the publisher’s design style is making it hard for you to scan and read your feeds, just to go Account Settings, Feed Options and turn off the CSS Support.

We want our Blogliners and bloggers to be happy.

Enjoy!

– Eric Engleman and the Bloglines Team

PS: If this text is blue then your reader supports CSS.