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May 08, 2006

Grazr Tip: Add a "Supersize This Panel" link for comfortable reading

What? 

If you're using a small Grazr panel, add a link to display a larger version of the same panel.  This makes it easy to quickly "supersize" the panel so it's comfortable for longer periods of reading.

SCREENSHOT: Grazr - supersize this panel

If you're using Grazr in a blog sidebar or as part of a page that has other content you want to keep visible (e.g. Google or Live.com start page), you're probably using a condensed Grazr panel to fit within space requirements.  It's easy to add a link in your outline to supersize the panel. 

Update: New version of Grazr makes this unnecessary

Shortly after I posted this article, Mike released a new version of Grazr that effectively removes the need for this technique.  You can still use it if you want to make things really easy for the reader, but the new version allows the reader to change the font and panel sizes using a built-in configurator.  You can detach a panel from the page you're looking at and resize it just like a normal web browser window.

 

Why?

A larger panel makes reading within Grazr more comfortable.

  • A small panel is great for quick access to status feeds, bookmarks, headlines, and for exploring & grazing feeds.  One of Grazr's strengths is its ability to display information in a compact space.  The tradeoff is that it's not so great if you end up reading for a longer  period in that compact space.
  • A larger panel
    • Reduces the need to leave Grazr (e.g. to read a long article in a feed).
    • Gives the reader the benefit of Grazr's speed of navigation without the size constraint of a blog sidebar panel.
    • Makes it quick & easy to switch from a brief glance to extended reading.

I have an OPML "start file" -- a collection of OPML files I've customized for my regular use -- that I access from my Google home page using Grazr.  I use this as my primary feed grazing interface, but it's too small for anything beyond a quick check of headlines.

For example, I include my Bloglines subscriptions in my start file (1), so I can peek in on my feeds without changing their read/unread state.  Typically, when I found something that I wanted to actually read, I'd either have to switch to Bloglines or use Grazr as a service to open my OPML file in a larger panel.  Both of these are cumbersome and time-consuming, and I wanted to make the process more convenient; that's when it occurred to me to add a "Supersize This Panel" link to the panel itself.

You can try this out using the Grazr panel in the sidebar of my blog.

 

How?

Go to "Get Grazr for Your Page", enter the URL of your OPML file, customize the settings for your supersized panel, then copy the URL and add it to your panel.

Here's an example of the OPML code to create a Supersize This Panel link:

<outline type="link" text="Supersize This Panel" url="http://grazr.com/gzpanel.html?fontsize=14pt&amp;file=http://alwaysaskwhy.com/jameselee/outlines/forBlog.xml" />

Note: Grazr uses URL encoding for many special characters, but the ampersand is HTML encoded (&amp;).

Disclaimer: I'm learning OPML, and am by no means an authority or expert, so please excuse any  errors, syntactic or otherwise.

 

Tricks

  • Make the font larger in the supersized panel.  After all, this is about comfort!
  • Put the "Supersize This Panel" link at the top.  This way, it:
    • is immediately, easily accessible
    • seems like a browser control; that's effectively how it's functioning, and people will look for it at the top once they think of if that way
  • Consider putting a supersize link at the bottom too, if it's a long list in a small panel.
  • Also add the supersize link to any OPML files you include (if they're yours), so "branches" can also be supersized.
    • Re: "branches" - I think there's a great deal of thinking to be done on the appropriate level of granularity for outlines.  For now, I'm creating what I consider to be functional modules, but I'm far from having any static taxonomy.  I may share some thoughts on that topic in another article.
  • Firefox users: Open the supersize link in a new tab!  If your mouse has a middle button, it just takes a single click to open a supersized Grazr panel in a new tab.


Further Thoughts

  • Might this be a good built-in capability for Grazr?  I could imagine using the real estate on Grazr's back "button" for more than one purpose; perhaps a "supersize" button?  I love that it's large & easy to hit, and don't want to clutter it up, but this might be worth it.
  • It seems to me that most people are familiar with the term "supersize", but I'd love to hear suggestions for a better way to get the point across.  I considered various terms before settling on "supersize", but they were either clunky (too many words) or had implications I didn't want to make.  For example;
    • "View Larger Version of This Panel" isn't exactly succinct.
    • "Expand This Panel" might imply that the panel would expand in place, so I decided against it.  I'm not sure if Grazr has the capability to dynamically resize, but if so, I'd love to know!  Opod, which uses the Grazr API, does dynamically resize, so perhaps it's possible.
  • Mike, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the two points above! (Built-in capability idea & dynamic resizing.) Update: Mike responded.
  • I imagine it's possible to do something similar with other configurable OPML browsers, like Optimal, and Bitty, (both great tools for their respective purposes) but I haven't had the time to try yet.  The supersize link doesn't keep you in the original OPML browser even if it's Grazr, but it does work even if you're reading an outline in something other than Grazr, since it just points to a "Grazr-skinned" version of the outline.


(1) I manually export my subscriptions and copy the file to my web server.  This isn't terrible, as I don't update my subscriptions that often, but I sure wish I could just point to the OPML file in my account!  (Are you listening, Bloglines?)

May 02, 2006

How to fix blog article link problem in ATOM feed produced by blogs using Movable Type

Audience

People using Movable Type on Yahoo! Web Hosting who want to ensure that their blog feed includes the proper permalink when viewed in Grazr

I expect this is a very small set of people.  (Actually, it may be a larger set than I thought, since as the Update below indicates, it's not specific to MT on Yahoo, or to Grazr, but to Movable Type.)

I originally wrote this for a friend who is migrating to MT-Y, but it's possible it could help a few others too, so I thought I'd share it here.

Problem 

Movable Type produces an ATOM feed in which the entry permalink URLs lead to an interface to edit the blog article.  Instead, they should point to the standard entry permalink, so readers can view the article.

Update: 2006.11.09

Apparently this is in fact a Movable Type issue.  Note that the Release Notes for Movable Type 3.3 (Beta-1) acknowledge the following "bug fix": 

21918: Atom Index does not produce valid feed

BUG FIX: Removed Atom 1.0 link relationships 'service.post' and 'service.edit' from the default Atom index template until they are more widely recognized by feed validators. In the meantime, developers can glean this introspection information from the Movable Type RSD file (rsd.xml).

Grazr provides a great way to let people graze your blog's feed, (see the "Recent Entries" on my blog's Grazr panel) but the link at the end of each article should point to its permalink, not to a way to edit the article.

SCREENSHOT Grazr link to file

Default link:

http://domain.com/blog-mt/mt-atom.cgi/weblog/blog_id=1/entry_id=1

Desired link:

http://domain.com/blog/path/to/article-permalink.html 

Even if you don't have a Grazr panel on your blog, people may use Grazr to render your blog's feed, so you probably do want the link at the end of each article to do the right thing.

This problem doesn't appear to apply to "traditional" feed readers, at least not Bloglines & Newsgator (the only ones I've checked).

I don't know if this is a Grazr problem or an MT-on-Yahoo problem, but that's not important; I've found a way to solve it that seems to work.  (See update above.)

 

Solution

Edit atom.xml template and rearrange the order of the "<link rel=" elements, so  $MTEntryPermalink is the last one.  (Or, just delete the "<link rel=service.edit" line.)

(I wrote these instructions before I knew for sure that it was safe to delete the service.edit line, so they apply to rearranging the order of the elements.)

I'm pretty sure this is happening because Grazr is using the last "link rel" as the link to the article (which may be a perfectly reasonable thing to do).  The one we want feed readers to use is the line that contains "$MTEntryPermalink".  Putting that line in the last position solves the problem:

  1. Backup atom.xml
    1. Blog control panel - Templates - click atom.xml
    2. Copy contents of "Template Body"; do not save
    3. Blog control panel - Templates - Create New Index Template
      • Template Name: "Atom Index Backup - YYYY.DD.MM"
      • Output File: [blank]
      • Link this template to a file: [blank]
      • Template Body: Paste what you copied from the original
      • Build Options: Uncheck "Rebuild this template automatically"
      • Save
  2. Rearrange the order atom.xml
    • Before:
      • <MTEntries lastn="15">
        <entry>
            <title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
            <link rel="alternate" type="text/html" href="<$MTEntryPermalink encode_xml="1"$>" />
            <link rel="service.edit" type="application/atom+xml" href="<$MTCGIPath$><$MTAtomScript$>/weblog/blog_id=<$MTBlogID$>/entry_id=<$MTEntryID$>" title="<$MTEntryTitle encode_html="1"$>" />
    • After:
      • <MTEntries lastn="15">
        <entry>
            <title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
            <link rel="service.edit" type="application/atom+xml"  href="<$MTCGIPath$><$MTAtomScript$>/weblog/blog_id=<$MTBlogID$>/entry_id=<$MTEntryID$>" title="<$MTEntryTitle encode_html="1"$>" />
            <link rel="alternate" type="text/html" href="<$MTEntryPermalink encode_xml="1"$>" />
  3. Save and Rebuild the template
  4. View your blog's feed in Grazr, and click on an article to confirm that the "Go to site / Read More" link at the bottom points to the article's permalink.  (Update: In newer versions of Grazr, the permalink is represented by the pound sign: '#'.)