What’s In A Name?

With regard to link element title attributes, three useless letters, usually.

The more sites that provide multiple syndication feeds, the more important it is that blogs provide useful names and aggregators be smart about using them.

Firefox

  1. Firefox's built-in syndication menu
  2. Firefox's feed addition dialog
    Firefox tries to be smart, automatically suggesting the page’s title as the Live Bookmark name. As you can see in the Step 1 image, I selected the “sidenotes” feed, not the main post feed as the suggested name implies. This could be mildly confusing to users: did I choose the right feed? Is this an application bug? Assuming the page’s title does work in the vast majority of cases, but causes problems on sites that provide feeds for posts [Atom and/or RSS], comments, photos, links, etcetera.

OmniWeb 5

  1. OmniWeb 5's built-in syndication menu
  2. OmniWeb 5's feed addition dialog
    OmniWeb uses a feed’s title attribute as the suggested feed name, but I usually have to type in a name because it is just “RSS”, the title automatically generated by most weblogging software.

As of version 7.54u1, Opera can aggregate feeds, but the auto-discovery process is pretty lousy; it requires the display of the site navigation bar (View menu -> Toolbars -> Navigation bar) which does not allow you to choose among multiple feeds. If there are multiple feeds, clicking the Newsfeed button displays the source of the first feed and adds it to the built-in aggregator, but there is no way to access the other linked feeds other than the ever joyous process of copying and pasting them from the page source. Opera does not support the “feed:” scheme. More feedback headed for Opera…

For existing sites, adding feed title attribute text is a simple, one-time change that clarifies things a bit for browser subscribers and might also be helpful to future Safari 2.0 users. Not having access to Safari 2.0 builds, I have no idea how it determines a feed’s name.

Looking forward, I’m going to contact weblogging software developers in hopes of getting automatic link title generation into their future releases and browser developers to encourage them to improve their naming logic and auto-discovery processes.

On an unrelated note, Cougar Mountain pumpkin cookies are great. If you are in Seattle between now and March, get some. Warming them for 10-15 seconds in a microwave makes them even better.

Explorers No More

Over the last year or so, I have helped or encouraged seven people from among my friends and family to move from Internet Explorer to Firefox.

Most of them were tired of the lousy user experience (primarily because of pop-ups) provided by or possible because of Internet Explorer’s fabulous security and "features", but only my fellow computer geek/jazz musician friend Nick had already independently sought out an alternative.

Nick was using a mixture of Opera (60%) and IE (40%), but has now set Firefox as his default. He likes Firefox’s simple interface (something you have to work to achieve in Opera) and the search field. I gave him a walkthrough of Firefox’s built-in syndication support (via a Skype call), but I’m not sure if he is regularly using it. He still occasionally uses IE for the Windows Update functionality, which only works with IE and because he likes the ability to move from using a window for local filesystem navigation to Web browsing.

Also, my bass player friend Burt has switched to Firefox, but I cannot count him among those I upgraded; a friend of his installed Firefox when he helped Burt put his PC together. Another geek fighting the good fight.

After upgrading my mother to Firefox, her company’s IT manager asked her, with some disbelief, “you don’t get pop-ups?”. Given that he is the company’s all-purpose computer guy, upgrading him could help spread Firefox through the company.

Opera Navigation Tooltips

Opera has a little feature that I haven’t seen in any other browser: it displays the address of the destination page as a tooltip when hovering over the primary navigation buttons such as back and forward.

Cursor over Opera back button

My question is: why use the URL when you can use the page title?

A page title tooltip

CMS-generated URLs can often be unsightly and uninformative things while page titles usually provide more useful textual information.

If the destination is an image, use the alt attribute text for the tooltip. If the destination is a bookmarked page, use the name assigned by the user.

WordPress Link Relationships

WordPress (among other packages) could automatically generate rel=”prev” and “next” link tags to create post relationships and allow users to skim through a weblog’s entries using native supplemental browser navigation controls such as those found in Opera and Mozilla. There are currently no previous post/next post navigation links available on individual post pages, a minor feature I’ve missed since switching from MovableType.

Based on Day 9 of Mark Pilgrim’s “30 Days To A More Accessible Site”, I assume these would also help make WordPress sites more accessible.