Ollice Reflex 9 - it’s about time

Posted
6:57 PM 7 November 2009

A stylesheet for NetNewsWire that uses clean typography, clever CSS and crafty JavaScript to smooth out the rough edges of feed reading. Now updated to version 9 with some timely new features. Keep reading for a summary of what’s new.

Download and install

Download latest version: Ollicle Reflex

Double-click the unzipped .nnwstyle file - NetNewsWire will copy it to where it needs to be:

~/Library/Application Support/NetNewsWire/StyleSheets/

If you are using an old version of Ollicle Reflex already installed you will need to restart NetNewsWire for the new one to load.

This style uses JavaScript to do some things CSS alone cannot. Make sure you enable it:

  • NetNewsWire Preferences

    • Browsing

      • News Items

        • Enable JavaScript

If you haven’t already you can also select Ollicle Reflex from the Style Sheet menu in the same place or in the right hand end of NetNewsWire’s status bar.

Requirements

This style has been developed and tested on a PowerPC Mac running NetNewsWire 3.2.3 on Mac OS X 10.5.8 (Leopard for the cat fanciers) with Safari 4 (which determines the version of WebKit NetNewsWire is sporting). I’m interested to know how it works for you.

Note: styles for NetNewsWire do not affect the Combined view – only the Traditional and Widescreen views.

About a year ago

I posted an update of Ollicle Reflex. More recently, a tiny new feature in NetNewsWire 3.2 has got me fired up to make a fresh version.

From Wikipedia:

ISO 8601 is an international standard covering the exchange of date and time-related data.

NetNewsWire now includes the ISO formatted date in UTC as a title attribute on the date (in the meta information of each feed visible in the description pane). Hover over the date there and you’ll see the title appear in a little yellow rectangle. It will read something like this: 2009-09-27T14:37:53Z.

Ugly isn’t it! Dates formatted in this way are not intended for the eyes of humans. So why bother? When the date is formatted in a predicatable manner such as this, it’s much easier possible to write software to make sense of it. Or in this case, use JavaScript in a NetNewsWire style to make the date useful.

Fuzzy dates

Generally when I look at a date of a feed in my feed reader I want to know how long ago it was posted. Not exactly, just a rough idea. To reduce the mental mathematics needed to determine this I’ve made use of timeago a jQuery plugin written specifically for this purpose. Out of the box NetNewsWire shows me the date and time like this “30/10/09 10:47 PM”. With the timeago plugin integrated, Ollicle Reflex uses the new ISO date to dynamically replace this with something friendlier like “about 18 hours ago”.

Clicking the fuzzy date will toggle between it and the orginal.

Aging posts

Twitter has taken a large bite out of the time I spend in my feedreader looking for new and interesting stuff on the web. As a result it’s not unusual for me to have too many old posts from blogs I haven’t clicked on for a while. To reflect the fading relevance of these old posts, Ollicle Reflex will subtely and incrementally alter the background and text colours in a way reminicent of the pages of an old book.

This effect is only visible in the white style and only really begins to be evident once a post is about a month old. The colour continues to brown for a year at which point everything on the web is ancient history.

Refinements

The remaining improvements are refinements to existing features. These features are designed to go unnoticed which is ultimately the idea of this style.

Image layout much improved

A few small changes, decisions and bug fixes have made a huge difference to how Ollicle Reflex flows text around floated images. For my use, this is the most significant improvement in this version.

Design tweaks

  • Blockquotes now look more like quotes with the addition of Big Quote Marks™

  • CSS transistions have made interface animations smoother and more reliable.

  • The feed preference button now looks more like what it does.

  • Refined the design of the diff indicators of highlighted feed changes. Whitespace only changes are now ignored.

  • A bunch of tiny changes only a mother would notice.

Under the hood

  • Updated to use jQuery 1.3.2

    Might be faster - I can’t tell, maybe you can.

  • Transparent rgba colours were handy for keeping the aging effect simple.

What next

Let me know how it works for you! Although I have added more things to the todo list than were removed making this version. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in feedback and ideas for what might make version 10 that much better.

Oliver Boermans is a design geek in Adelaide, South Australia: ollicle.com is a place for Ollie to rant, reflect and share. Feed