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RSS and Tabbed Browsing in Safari, Firefox, and Camino

by Wei-Meng Lee
01/11/2005
What are Syndication Feeds

Tabbed browsing is a good way to reduce the amount of clutter that your browser makes on your desktop when you view several web pages at the same time. Instead of opening multiple windows, tabbed browsing displays all the pages within a single window. It's especially useful when reading news feeds such as weblogs. In this article, I will first discuss the built-in support of RSS in Firefox and how it makes use of tabbed browsing, and then discuss the tabbed browsing feature in Safari and Camino.

RSS Support in Firefox

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) has become a part of our digital lifestyle. Today there are many news aggregators for Mac OS X, such as NetNewsWire and AmphetaDesk. At the same time, web browser makers are also incorporating support of RSS into their products. Most notable is Apple's next version of Safari (in Mac OS X Tiger), Safari RSS. Using Safari RSS, you can read and manage news feeds within Safari RSS itself (see Figure 1).


Figure 1. Safari RSS

While we wait for the arrival of Safari RSS in Mac OS X Tiger, there is an alternative that we can use today--Firefox.

Currently in version 1.0, Firefox recently created quite a stir in the web browser market as a good alternative browser for the Mac and PC platforms. You can download Firefox from www.mozilla.org/products/firefox.

Firefox supports RSS through its Live Bookmarks feature. A live bookmark looks like a normal bookmark (or Favorite) except that it retrieves (and updates) its content from an RSS feed. Firefox comes preinstalled with a live bookmark (Latest Headlines) from Mozilla.org (see Figure 2).


Figure 2. The preinstalled live bookmark

To view a particular piece of news, simply click on the live bookmark and select an item. You can view all the news items by selecting the Open in Tabs item at the bottom of the live bookmark. All items would then be displayed in tabbed pages in the same window (see Figure 3).


Figure 3. Displaying all items in a live bookmark in tabbed pages

Firefox has also made adding a live bookmark easy; it automatically detects whether a page contains a link to RSS documents. For example, as shown in Figure 4, O'Reilly Media's home page supports RSS feeds. When a page with such support is loaded into Firefox, a live bookmark icon will be displayed at the bottom right corner. Clicking on this icon will allow you to choose the feed to subscribe to.


Figure 4. Subscribing to feeds from a page

While Firefox can automatically detect most pages that support RSS as live bookmarks, there are times that Firefox will trip. In this case, you can add a live bookmark manually.

In Bookmarks Manager (Bookmarks -> Manage Bookmarks), add a new live bookmark by clicking on File -> New Live Bookmark (see Figure 5).


Figure 5. Creating a new live bookmark

Enter a name for the bookmark and then specify the feed location (see Figure 6).


Figure 6. Specifying the details of a live bookmark

If you have added your live bookmark under the Bookmarks Toolbar, you should now be able to see the new live bookmark (see Figure 7).


Figure 7. Viewing the new live bookmarks in the Bookmarks Toolbar

Over time, you will find that you have too many live bookmarks in the Bookmarks Toolbar. A better way would be to create a new folder in your bookmarks toolbar and name it, say, Feeds. You can then drag and drop the individual live bookmarks (via the Bookmarks Manager) into the new folder. Figure 8 shows the grouping of four live bookmarks into the Feeds folder.


Figure 8. Organizing live bookmarks into folders

What Are Syndication Feeds

Essential Reading

What Are Syndication Feeds
By Shelley Powers

Syndication feeds have become a standard tool on the Web. But when you enter the world of syndicated content, you're often faced with the question of what is the "proper" way to do syndication. This edoc, which covers Atom and the two flavors of RSS--2.0 and 1.0--succinctly explains what a syndication feed is, then gets down to the nitty-gritty of what makes up a feed, how you can find and subscribe to them, and which feed will work best for you.


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