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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Greed: A few notable improvements

I just put out an update to Greed with a few notable features. As part of a new high-powered marketing plan here at Fognl, I'm going to include pictures in my posts to give them more visual impact. Brace yourselves.



I'm not sure which feature is the most noteworthy, so I'll list them in order of how recently I worked on them.

Customizable Menus

As of this release, you can customize the main Greed menu. If you have certain feeds you always go to first, or other things on the main menu that you never use, you can now change the menu to suit your way of using Greed. Not only that, you can create any number of custom menus and switch between them with just a couple of clicks. Here's an example:



The "Folders" item is the same "Folders" item you know and love from the standard Greed menu. The "Podcasts" item is a Google Reader label, and the remaining 3 items are regular old feed items. Clicking one of them takes you directly to the article list in that feed.

Editing a menu is pretty simple. Just click the "Menu" button from the main screen's options menu, and follow the prompts. Use the options menu to create new menus and menu items, and long-press to manage items that are already there. Here's a picture of the menu editor:



Picking a feed, label, or state item is straightforward. Just click the "Add item" option and pick the feed, label, or state item from this screen:



To use a given menu, just long-press it in the menu list and select "Use this menu". To go back to the default main menu, just click the cleverly-named "Default menu" option in the menu list screen.

I've been experimenting with exposing Greed's functionality as objects that can be used via a JavaScript interface in HTML inside the WebView component. My initial idea for a customizable UI was to make it where you could supply your own HTML-based view, for example on the SD card, and set an option for Greed to use that. I tried out the idea, and it worked well enough. The problem was avoiding making it too fiddly to use. That's how I arrived at the idea to just make the main menu customizable. I'd be interested in knowing peoples' thoughts on whether the
HTML idea seems like it's worth pursuing. Personally, I think it's kind of cool.

YouTube Videos

This update also adds YouTube video support. If you have a Podcast with an attached YouTube video, you should be able to navigate to the link in the "Attachments" dialog box and select it to view it in the YouTube player.

Note that you can't download a YouTube video to your SD card the same way you can download an audio file. Who knows? It might be useful to have the ability to convert and download videos. I don't know if that violates some kind of licensing agreement or something, but if it's legal, I think it would be useful.

Podcast Support
A recent comment about Greed reads as follows:

Good RSS reader, lamentable podcast support.

Maybe it was the fact that the commenter was articulate enough to make good use of the word "lamentable", but something about his/her comment inspired me to improve Greed's Podcast support.

The main improvement here is that now when you download a Podcast, it shows up in the Music application.



The audio file is downloaded to /sdcard/Music/Podcasts/Greed, and the Media Scanner is used to scan the file for any ID information it might have. Thus, in most cases it shows up in the music application with a proper title, "artist" information, and even an album cover. The best part is that when you play the Podcast from there, the Music player acts like it should: You get a call, it pauses. Hang up the call, it resumes. Is it just me, or is this a lot less lamentable than the old approach?

There is also an option you can set to have Greed manage the Podcast files. When it's set, you can clear downloads from within Greed, and the Media database is updated properly. When the option is turned off, you can manage the Podcast files yourself in the Music application.

Compressed Pages
There's also a new option for caching compressed (mobile) versions of pages. When you select it, Greed downloads a reduced-content version of a given page instead of the full version. (Thanks to Stephane for the suggestion.)

That's about it for the new features. The one remaining update has to do with Feed Notifications. The last update included a definitive fix for new feed notification. The method it uses for detecting new feeds is much more reliable than the previous method was. However, a few people notified me that the Updated Feeds screen was no longer acting right. I discovered a problem there with the way it was updating the unread counts, and fixed that. That should be working correctly now.

As always, suggestions are appreciated.

13 Comments:

  • At 12:28 AM , Blogger Puny Weakling (aka Lemon) said...

    Looks fantastic!!! Notifications completely broke for me for some reason. Maybe because I was using an SD card from a Dream with Free Greed and moved the same SD card to my Magic with Paid Greed??? Also get a random force close with Greed in the background sometimes...

    I'll test with the new update but customer folders means I'll probably turn notifications off anyway and just read from my customer folder on the tram in the morning!!

    Love your work!!

     
  • At 5:34 AM , Blogger Sascha said...

    Hi Kelly,
    thats an awesom update. I lovin it :)

     
  • At 7:22 AM , Blogger Mr said...

    Hi.

    Thanks for your app !

    In Google Reader Mobile, it's possible to open articles in a view optimized for mobile. It's simply use this : http://www.google.com/gwt/n?u=YOUR_URL

    It's very usefull, especially for websites with no mobile version. Is it possible with Greed ?

     
  • At 9:08 AM , Blogger schwiz said...

    looks like someone has been busy, congrats on this awesome update

     
  • At 9:39 AM , Blogger Kelly said...

    Lemon,

    I'd really like to get to the bottom of the "broken notifications" issue. Are you saying that you're just not getting any notifications now, or is it something else?

    Mr,

    When you select "View mobile page" from the article list context menu or the options menu from the article reader, the URL you specified is what gets used to deliver the mobile-ized page. Seems to speed things up quite a bit!

    Anyway, thanks everybody!

     
  • At 11:33 AM , Blogger Florian Müller said...

    Hello!
    Sorry, notification is still not working for me.
    I don't get notifications at all

     
  • At 7:59 AM , Blogger anjldust said...

    I've got a feature suggestion. I may be the only one who'd use this, but hey. I'd like to set Greed to only check for news items posted in the last x, where x is hour, day, etc. Sometimes I'll check my feeds before I leave the house, (and I don't use Reader while I'm at home) and then an hour later when I'm sitting in line at the bank or something, check Greed. But by the time I've marked all the junk I've already read, I don't even feel like messing with it anymore. (On another note, Greed's pretty slow to update/mark as read on an Edge connection.)

    Does that seem useful to anyone else? Maybe something like this is in there and I just haven't noticed. It may be a limitation of Google Reader. Maybe I just need to get in the habit of signing in to reader before I go somewhere and marking everything as read.

     
  • At 8:42 AM , Blogger grabiarz said...

    How about adding support for synchronizing at certain hour (for example Mon-Fri at 7am) or getting greed to work with an app like locale that can trigger actions at certain hours?

     
  • At 7:23 PM , Blogger DarkJesus said...

    I like "Mr"'s suggestion, would come in very useful.

    Great new fixes, loving the new version. Thanks a lot!

     
  • At 8:38 PM , Blogger anjldust said...

    I've actually got an idea for another suggestion as well. Since Greed can have any RSS feeds in addition to the Reader feed, it'd be nice to be able to import those RSS feeds using an OPML file. (As far as I know, there are no RSS readers on the Market that can use a locally saved OPML file. tRSS can use a remote OPML file, but not one saved to the SD card, which is a pain in the ass, as I have nowhere to upload my OPML file.)

    Also, and you probably are already aware of this, but if you set Greed to use the SD card for its cache, then mount the SD card on a computer, Greed will send a force close message every 2-3 minutes until you unmount the SD card from the computer. This may also occur if the SD card is missing, though I've not tried it yet.

     
  • At 10:37 PM , Blogger Kelly said...

    anjldust,

    I actually started out a long time ago looking at importing OPML files as a means of populating an RSS app with feeds. I like the idea of importing them from a local file. For that matter, I could make it where you could import them from a remote one as well. I'll put that on the list of features to add.

    Thanks,
    Kelly

     
  • At 11:13 PM , Blogger Tim Cuthbertson said...

    The podcast support sounds great, but do you plan to offer filters of some sort? For example, you currently select which feeds to be notified of - can you also do the same for offline / podcast downloading? (I'd prefer on a folder level, but feed level would be okay too)

    I have the google dev talks feed for example, which has enclosures over 100mb. I'd never want those enclosures to be downloaded on my phone, but I'd still like the content offline (so I can star it and come back later on my desktop if it sounds interesting).

    Also, it looks like there's an encoding issue for folders. I have a tag "[pod10] Images" (I currently use an ipod touch, and the first part of the tag sets the display order as well as flagging the folder to be downloaded offline). I get "illegal character in path at index 48" when I try to view the folder.

    I am thinking of getting an android device, and a good offline RSS reader is the *most* important app for me. In fact, I wrote one (GRiS) for my iTouch because no others had fairly rubbish support for offline content and google reader. This app looks excellent, as long as you can control what gets downloaded for offline viewing.

    I'm also extremely happy to help code these features, if that's at all possible. I suppose open-sourcing the app may not be feasible given the paid nature of the full version, but I urge you to consider it.

     
  • At 12:01 PM , Blogger Kelly said...

    Hi Tim,

    As far as being able to control what gets downloaded for offline viewing: You should be able to do what you're trying to do. Greed has an option to download content from *all* feeds, or only the selected ones. So you should be able to set it to only download selected feeds, then mark the feeds you want downloaded. Currently Greed's support for this is at the feed level, not at the label level.

    Interesting note about the encoding issue. I'll try tagging something with a similar name, and see what kind of errors I run into.

    Thanks,
    Kelly

     

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