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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?)

Comments

Hi James, Great post! I've been completely crushed by first a bad server, and then my own screwup, I messed up the DNS entries for Grazr. It's been a really bad day for me. On the plus side, I've been working on all of these things you talk about in the Alpha 9 code! I had planned to open it up today but I got sidetracked by all the insanity. Here's a preview of the new grazr panel. http://grazr.com/newindex.html The new code has a 'popout' button to maximize the panel. Also there is a 'configurator' button that allows you to change the theme, font, fontsize, and file dynamically. The new code is pretty different and has it's own set of bugs but I'm working on them. I'm going to list all of the changes in a post, likely tomorrow afternoon. You'll notice I'm using your 'graze this' tic-tac buttons. I plan on providing the include to be able to generate those to 'popout' files like you'd suggested previously.

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