Playing with IE7 add-ons
I've been having a look at IE7 add-ins to use on my x64 Vista based system over the past few days. So far I've had a look at 3, all of which are available at http://www.enhanceie.com/, being Find As You Type, Feeds Plus and Feed Folder.
Feeds Plus has a competitor which has been around since 27 December 2006 called msfeedicon. I'll be having a look at that very soon and I suspect, going on what I can see on the developer's blog, that it may end up my preferred choice for beefing up RSS in IE7.
You can find the latest version of msfeedicon here - now at build 2.1:
Version 2.0 - those using Vista may need to install this version if UAC causes a problem:
Remember, I am using Windows Vista on an x64 based system - problems that I see may not occur for you.
Find As You Type
This is a toolbar for IE and works by hooking Ctrl +F in Internet Explorer.
The advantages that I can see are that:
1) It works like the Microsoft Word Wheel, jumping through the web page to the first match as you type more characters
2) There are audio cues when you type a character combination that does not appear on the page
The primary disadvantage is that when we press Ctrl +F the previous Find entry is not highlighted for easy deleting.
Decision: This is a keeper for now.
This add-on adds your RSS feeds to your Favorites list.
Strike 1 against Feed Folder: I don't use the Menu Bar within IE7, therefore the only place that Feed Folder would be of any use is in the Favorites Pane, but that did not work at all well.
Strike 2 against Feed Folder: Feed Folder crashed and displayed an "unspecified error" dialogue box if I tried to open an RSS group in the same way as I would open a Favorites Group, by clicking on the group arrow to display one feed in each window - according to Event Viewer, ole32.dll was involved.
The blue arrow that crashes Feed Folder
Strike 3 against Feed Folder: I was not happy to discover that when Feed Folder is installed, the RSS pane in IE7's Favorite Centre appeared empty, meaning that if I left Feed Folder installed I would only be able to access my feeds using that add-on. As soon as I uninstalled Feed Folder the RSS Feed Pane worked properly again.
Decision: Sorry, but if an add-on tries to enforce a "my way or the highway" situation, that add-on will be removed. Feed Folder lasted only 5 minutes on my system.
Ok, this was a little more successful.
Documentation for Feeds Plus is sparse, and it displays several different icons in the system tray, but we have to guess what those icons are for.
This one appears when Feeds Plus is working, for example when updating Aggregate folders
I am not sure what this one with the gleam is; I thought it was to indicate a new feed, or new content in a feed, but it has only appeared once, when Feeds Plus was first installed.
The default icon which is there all the jolly time
Strike 1 against Feeds Plus: It is constantly marking feeds as having an unread article which turns out to be days, or weeks old - very irritating.
Strike 2 against Feeds Plus: Feeds Plus is meant to display an Outlook style notification whenever new feed content is available but on my system this notification only appears when my laptop is first turned on. There is no sign of the notifications for the rest of the day.
Feeds Plus takes a little getting used to. It adds a new feed entry, "* All %foldername% Items", to every folder, and a Feed called "* All items" that captures the content for all subscribed feeds. To review the content of each folder in Aggregate view, simply click on the "All %foldername% Items" entry for that folder. But, be warned, if you leave the aggregate view before reviewing all new content, and switch to another folder, and if IE7 is set to automatically mark a feed as read when viewed, all feeds in that folder will be marked as read at the same time. Also, if you click on the All %foldername% Items a second time, all items will be marked as read. All feeds in a folder will also be marked as read if you click on a hyperlink in an RSS article when using aggregate view.
We seem to have found a bug - see how the aggregate entry, "All Internet Security Items", is not bolded? It should be because, as we can see, one of the Secunia entries has unread content.
Feeds Plus has only three option windows - screenshots below:
Decision: Feeds Plus can stay, for now, but I suspect it will be replaced by msfeedicon.