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

Spring Cleaning: Comments, offline, and older browser support

5/24/2010 02:09:00 PM
Posted by Mihai Parparita, Software Engineer

Springtime is a great opportunity to clean up, take care of loose ends, and generally spruce things up. Since we still have a few weeks of spring left, the Reader team is taking this opportunity to clean things up a bit.

Simplifying comments

Ever since we launched support for comments on shared items, one of the most frequent points of confusion has been "who can comment on my shared items?" (or rather, "why can't I comment on my friends' shared items?"). Up until now, someone had to be in a designated sharing group to be able to comment on a post, even if you were sharing publicly. To make things a lot simpler, we've made it so that if you can see a shared item, you can comment on it.

For those of you who are sharing publicly, the next time you log in to Reader you'll get a choice between continuing to share publicly and allowing anyone to comment on your shared items, or switching to protected sharing:

Comments dialog

Nothing will change for users who already had their shared items protected, since visibility and commenting for their shared items was already consistent. Keep in mind that you can always update who can view and comment on your shared items on the sharing settings page.

Phasing out support for older browsers

Reader is joining Docs (and many other sites) in removing support for older browsers, notably Internet Explorer 6, Firefox 1.0 and 2.0, Safari 2.0 and 3.0, and Chrome 1.0, 2.0. and 3.0. Reader is a cutting edge web application, and this will allow us to spend our time improving Reader instead of fixing issues with antiquated browsers. Starting on June 1, users of older browsers will begin to see a notification encouraging them to upgrade to any of Reader’s supported browsers.

Discontinuing offline access via Gears

We launched offline support three years ago, but only a minority of Reader users actively use it today. Because supporting offline access requires a large ongoing engineering effort, and because Gears itself is being surpassed by HTML5, we've decided to remove offline support in Reader starting on June 1.

Of course, we know that offline access is important to some of you, and with the wide range of third party clients that sync with Google Reader, you don’t need to give it up. Depending on your operating system, we recommend taking a look at:

Each of these alternatives will sync your subscriptions and read state with Reader, and continue to provide offline access to your feeds. For more information, please see our help center.

We realize that removing features and support is not easy, but with this spring cleaning done, we've laid the groundwork for more Reader improvements down the line. We apologize for any inconvenience, and if you have any questions please head over to our forum, or message us on Twitter.

A little bit of polish

5/07/2010 12:34:00 PM
Posted by Mihai Parparita, Software Engineer

Jak wielokrotnie robiliśmy w przeszłości, ekipa Google Reader poświęciła czas pomiędzy wypuszczaniem wiekszych projektów na pracę nad małymi usprawnieniami i naprawę istniejących błędów.

Oh wait, not that kind of Polish, this kind of polish.

As we've often done in the past, the Reader team has taken the time between major releases to work on small features and bug fixes. Here's a round-up of the changes we've made over the past month:

We've added support for the HTML5 <video> and <audio> tags, so that when you come across an awesome video you can share it in such a way that your mobile device-using friends can see it too.

Not interested command We realize that our recommended items may not always hit the spot (though who wouldn't like a water slide in their house). There is now a "Not interested" link at the bottom of recommended items, so that you can both hide that item and provide signals to our algorithms about the kinds of things you like and dislike.

New version bannerReader is the kind of application that people keep open in a tab all day. While it's flattering that our users are so dedicated, we want to make sure that they don't miss out on any new features and bug fixes that we release. We've therefore added a small banner that appears whenever we release a new version. If you're in the middle of something, you can ignore it (and it'll go away for a while), but if not, newest and shinier things are just a click away. Incidentally, today we built the 500th version of Reader; over the 5 years that we've worked on Reader, that works out to almost two builds a week.

A few improvements to Reader Play: When you hit space (or shift-space), you're now automatically moved between posts, and for posts with multiple images, cycled through each image. We've also added made Play more configurable by letting you change the URL used:

  • If you add a welcome=0 query parameter, the welcome screen is skipped, even for new and signed-out users.
  • An autoplay=1 query parameter can be used to start moving through posts automatically.
  • A #feed/<URL> fragment allows you to display a specific feed.

You can combine all these to make automatically playing slideshows of your favorite photoblogs.

Finally, we've done a few other small things, like the Home view loading faster, and the Send to functionality being less susceptible to being stymied by popup blockers when used with services such as Twitter.

The way we prioritized these tweaks and fixes was based on forum and Twitter feedback, so please keep it coming.