The feed reading experience in IE7 is meant to be lightweight and simple. We display the accumulated feed's contents in one scrollable view, like a webpage. This is great for news feeds and blogs where you want to scan the feed content to catch an interesting post.

There may be feeds that it is important for you to see every new item and take an action on it. This item-level management is suited for an email application with integrated feed reading experience. Since the IE7 reading experience is built on a shared platform (the RSS Platform), an email application can build this very experience without the user having go through the same discover and subscribe experience in a different application. If you are a developer and interested in building an experience like this, read more about the RSS Platform.

Read

In subscribed mode of the Feed Reading Page, you can tell if the content is new or not if the title is blue. Our model for determining if something is new is pretty simple. If you’ve seen it before and navigated away, it’s marked as viewed. The next time you visit the feed, the previously viewed content is gray so that you can easily determine the new from the old.

Most feed items link to webpage with the related article. This is especially useful for feeds that provide a summary of the articles like msnbc.com. For feeds like this, I like to scan all of the new feed items and load the interesting ones as background tabs by pressing the middle mouse button over the title of feed item. By the time I’m done with scanning the feed, I have the related webpages ready for me read.

By default, we keep the latest 200 feed items for a given feed (I’ll show you how to change this later). That’s a lot of items to sort through. Hello, controls!

Inline search – Type in a word in the inline search textbox and watch your view narrow down to the results as you type. I’m going to Tokyo and want to catch up on all of the articles about it. I type “tokyo" and see that there’s one article out of the 30 that I have.

Sorting – You can sort the feed by date, title, and author. There are also feeds that website publishers can customize to include more sorting fields. For example, for an Amazon wishlist feed you can also sort by price and review. If you’re a publisher, check out how to make your feed enable custom controls using the Simple List Extensions (SLX).

Filtering – You can quickly filter to a specific category if categories are included in the feed. In the case above, you can jump to the 9 feed items that are marked as “Architecture.” Just like sorting, a website publisher can include different filtering fields like region and color.

To reset your control settings, press the “Show All” link within the controls box.

Manage

You can manage a feed individually by selecting a feed in the Feed List right-clicking to go to “Properties.”

Refresh – You can change how often you want IE7 to check if there is new content available. By default it is set to once a day. This is fine for websites that don’t update their content all the time. For sites that change frequently, you may want to consider setting the refresh rate to something smaller like every 4 hours. Please don’t set a feed to check too frequently, especially if the feed doesn’t update often. That’s unnecessary checking, and websites won’t be happy about it.

A website can express the maximum of how often it wants to be checked. In IE7, we adhere to this setting to prevent the user from refreshing more frequently than the feed’s maximum.

Archive – This is the number of feed items that IE7 keeps for a feed. When you’ve hit the max capacity for a feed, IE7 removes the older items to accommodate the new items.

Enclosures – These are attached files that are part of the feed. You can have IE7 auto-download these attached files so that don’t have manually download it yourself. For example, this is a NPR feed about movies that has audio files about movie reviews. To have these automatically downloaded, select “Automatically download enclosures” on the properties dialog or the subscribe dialog at the time you subscribe to the feed:

We only download attached files that are considered safe (no executables, for example), and these files are stored separately from your personal files to keep them confined.

There’s one more to discovering, subscribing, reading, and managing, and that’s the integration experience in other applications. I can’t say much more right now, but be on the lookout by subscribing to this blog. In the meantime, try out the feed reading experience yourself!

- Jane