MeFi RSS Dashboard plug-in June 28, 2005 4:17 AM   Subscribe

I've written MetaDash, a Dashboard plug-in that is an RSS reader for MetaFilter and Ask MetaFilter. I'd like to ask Mac OS X 10.4 users for your comments and suggestions for improvement...
posted by Rothko to MetaFilter-Related at 4:17 AM (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

For example, this version lacks a timer for automatic updates. I've included an update button but a per-site timer would help with AskMe, which gets content added to it on a more frequent basis than MetaFilter.

I'd also like to add descriptions for each news item but I can't seem to get Javascript to strip out ugly Unicode and "\n" entries. Additionally, because of the vagaries of how URLs are handled in Dashboard, I would have to parse each link within a news item description and add an onClick: statement specifically for that link. If this is a feature you'd like to see, let me know.

Any other UI suggestions, or bug reports, etc. are appreciated.
posted by Rothko at 4:21 AM on June 28, 2005

The link downloads the widget. It'd be probably be better if the link went to a page with a screenshot and a description.

Nice! It works great, and an automatic update feature would be sweet.

It'd be nice if the colors were the MetaFilter ones (or if they changed between the MetaFilter and Ask MetaFilter colors depending on the feed, if that's possible).
posted by kirkaracha at 5:29 AM on June 28, 2005

Sweet!! Very nice work.

I opened it twice and set one on green and the other on blue.

posted by about_time at 6:19 AM on June 28, 2005

Where are the screenshots? You know, so us non-OS Xies can drool?
posted by grouse at 7:12 AM on June 28, 2005

What about a Konfabulator widget?
posted by youarejustalittleant at 7:17 AM on June 28, 2005

One screenshot of MetaDash in action, and another of the back of the widget.

Sorry for not creating a proper website. I'd like to wrap up some missing features before putting in the time for that.
posted by Rothko at 7:29 AM on June 28, 2005

This is awesome Rothko. I'm at work now, but as soon as I get home, I strapping on the widget and giving it a spin. Thanks.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:47 AM on June 28, 2005

I gotta start proofreading my comments. I sound like a bloody idiot sometimes.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:53 AM on June 28, 2005

does it work during jrun errors?
posted by quonsar at 9:19 AM on June 28, 2005

quonsar: I think we need a separate widget just to alert us of JRun.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:55 AM on June 28, 2005

Nice! Could you make it scroll with mouse scroll wheel? That'd be muchos helpful. And I'll go with the colours' thing - any chance of changing the colours depending on what content the widget is pulling in?
posted by TheDonF at 11:45 AM on June 28, 2005

Fantastic! Thanks. Can you put up the shelves in my hall closet next? That'd be a big help, too.
posted by papercake at 11:58 AM on June 28, 2005

why is the app purple?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:59 AM on June 28, 2005

Keep going with this Rothko per all the recommendations discussed upthread. Most excellent.
Med Blue #069, Dark Blue #00334C, Yellow #CC0, Grey #7F7F7F
posted by hal9k at 12:07 PM on June 28, 2005

It's pastel purple because I wanted something flamboyant, yet luxuriant.

And the two indicators in the lower-left corner were not only meant to hint at the site being parsed, but to eventually double as disappearing-pie-style timers...

Actually, the color suggestions are good ones and easy to implement. I just need a few minutes in Photoshop to goose the template. Consider it done in the next update.

I don't think I can connect the scroller JS to scrollwheel events, but I'll look into it.
posted by Rothko at 12:24 PM on June 28, 2005

Why is this necessary? Unless, one does not use an RSS reader, at all.
posted by gsb at 12:43 PM on June 28, 2005

This is neat, thanks Rothko! It's far too ugly for me to keep installed (lose the texture, destroy all traces of brushed-ness, widen it and make it shorter) but it does indeed work. One minor bug: the widget does not appear until after it has retrieved the data. On a slow link, that means there's a half a minute or so with no sign it's actually doing anything.

I know the ever-popular TV Tracker widget has scrollwheel support, you might want to ask those guys how they went about it (or just poke around inside their bundle).
posted by majick at 12:53 PM on June 28, 2005

(Oh, and I don't use an RSS reader. At all. So there! Nyeah!)
posted by majick at 12:55 PM on June 28, 2005

I like it. I'd like to be able to resize it to see the last 15 threads or whatever it's pulling down and I agree with majick, wider/shorter, or resizeable. I'd love really legible colors, even black on white and I've seen enough brushed metal to last a lifetime, personally. Also, I'd like a MeTa option as well. Nice job!
posted by jessamyn at 1:08 PM on June 28, 2005

Seems like it ought to be MeFi blue, rather than purple, but it seems pretty cool. Your planned additional features are on-target.
posted by me3dia at 1:25 PM on June 28, 2005

Nice work. Thanks alexreynolds.
posted by dhoyt at 1:56 PM on June 28, 2005

Rothko -- your screengrabs show you running the widget seemingly without Dashboard invoked (dimmed screen with all yer widgets). Is this just screengrab trickery, or is there a way to run widgets like normal applications that I'm unaware of?
posted by Robot Johnny at 2:03 PM on June 28, 2005

Robot Johnny: Amnesty will do that.
posted by pfuller at 3:40 PM on June 28, 2005

It's pastel purple because I wanted something flamboyant, yet luxuriant.

It's a widget, not a bathrobe.
posted by angry modem at 10:08 PM on June 28, 2005

Is there anyway for the widget to remember what it's set to? I've got 2 open: 1 for MeFi and 1 for Ask. When I restart my machine the Ask one resets to MeFi. Not a huge deal, but it would be nice. Cheers.
posted by TheDonF at 11:45 PM on June 28, 2005

TheDonF, the preference currently will remember for one window only. I'll see if I can fix this later.

Robot Johnny, see this comment for setting the debug key for Dashboard. This lets you bring widgets out of the "Dashboard world" and into the desktop.

In fact, a useful tip is dragging the metadash widget out of Dashboard and on top of a browser window. Just click on a bunch of links you're interested in and let the browser quickly open tabs. Makes browsing Metafilter much faster.

I'll look into a wider/shorter widget and change colors. Thanks for the scrollwheel tip, majick. The code's in their widget, so it should be easy enough to steal.

Gsb is right that this is just a news reader. Some other features I've been thinking about to make it more interesting/useful:

• Adding the capability to post news items to a delicious account directly from metadash

• Allowing filtering, e.g. Matt may have some custom feeds up that would include, say, category information for AskMe posts, which would be a good candidate for filtering

• Adding number of posts, poster, etc. with each item

• Maybe a floating window with the post description, that shows up on a mouseover on the post
posted by Rothko at 12:54 AM on June 29, 2005

posted by Dreamghost at 1:19 AM on June 29, 2005

If you could 'tabulate' the widget, with MeFi, MetaTalk and AskMefi tabs that would be different and a good thing, depending on how much RAM and resource it takes. But still, it requires a fair bit of fiddling about.

In my opinion, I think a widget should display information with little or no input from the user, other than the initial setting up process. It's meant for a 'glancing' type applicability. Plus, Dashboard is soooo fucking slow in loading up, on anything other than G5 with oodles of RAM, so I'm biased.
posted by gsb at 2:03 AM on June 29, 2005

Meh, I'm on a 2gig dual processor G5 with 2gig of RAM and it's still too slow for me. And one of my fans squeaks, which is in no way annoying...
posted by TheDonF at 2:39 AM on June 29, 2005

• Maybe a floating window with the post description, that shows up on a mouseover on the post

That would be lovely.

A dangerous thing, though - the tiny handful of other widgets I have running are all useful things I need to do work, having a MeFi distraction taunting me in amongst them could ruin me...
posted by jack_mo at 9:11 AM on June 29, 2005

Dude, sweet!
posted by c13 at 10:44 PM on June 29, 2005

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