Official Google Reader Blog - News, Tips and Tricks from the Reader team

Why should text have all the fun?

12/15/2005 11:58:00 AM
Posted by Mihai Parparita, Software Engineer

We at the Reader team like to receive some visual stimulation with our reading, so we're subscribed to a bunch of photo feeds. It's great that RSS and Atom can deliver more than just text, but it gets boring to view everything in the exact same fashion.

We've therefore come up with what we call "photo templates," which is a special display mode we have for photo sites. When it's triggered, we try our best to expand thumbnails to full-size photos. Additionally, on the right side of the screen we display a list of clickable thumbnails of other photos from that feed, so that you can cherry-pick the best ones to view. Right now we support the feeds from a few sites; here's a list of them and a sample feed from each one:

This is great if you use one of these photo services, but what about other sites or self-hosted photo blogs? For now we've specifically whitelisted the above five sites for photo template support. This doesn't scale that well - there's thousands of sites and only a few overworked Reader engineers.

Our plan is to support the Media RSS extension to RSS and Atom (the thumbnail and content tags are most relevant to photo feeds). This way, if you include the right tags, Reader will be able to display your feed with the photo template without us having to do any work. The Media RSS spec is pretty thorough, and you can use Flickr's feeds as examples of usage.