Web-Feed subscription improvements

Hello dear Firefox development community!

As a fond user of the "subscribe to this page" button I sadly acknowledge to see the deprecation of navigator.registerContentHandler().

I'm not here to grouse about it, but rather inquire about any plans to have a user-friendly possibility for adding content handlers (other than editing about:config).
Being stuck with "live bookmarks" and "my yahoo" as a default may be enough for some users, but I'd rather use my own.

A mechanism I'd like to propose:
The pull-down for the subscription page already allows to choose an application on the client's file system; could we supply another entry to add a web application?
I'd appreciate that!

In general, I find the current state of the "subscribe" page lacking quite some explanations. For example, if I select a local application for feed subscription what arguments will be passed?
At least a link for further reading would help immensely, adding a "what is this?" to the page for some context about Web-Feeds could be quite helpful as well.
Users without prior knowledge about Web-Feeds might benefit from it, especially when they explore Firefox's customization features.

Also, could we maybe include these content handlers in the data synced with Firefox Accounts? It's rather discomforting to add the three lines of properties to about:config manually to every profile I create.

best regards,
-1

PS: I'm sorry if this post violates any posting guidelines, I'm not accustomed to newsgroups.
0
gdkags
3/13/2018 3:26:24 PM
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On 13/03/2018 15:26, gdkags@gmail.com wrote:
> Hello dear Firefox development community!
> 
> As a fond user of the "subscribe to this page" button I sadly acknowledge to see the deprecation of navigator.registerContentHandler().
> 
> I'm not here to grouse about it, but rather inquire about any plans to have a user-friendly possibility for adding content handlers (other than editing about:config).
> Being stuck with "live bookmarks" and "my yahoo" as a default may be enough for some users, but I'd rather use my own.

Unfortunately, our web feed implementation is pretty unused. We've 
suspected this for a while, started gathering usage data through 
telemetry to evaluate its future, and so far the data paints a pretty 
bleak picture.

This ties in with other trends; e.g. 
https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=rss and the fact 
that of the approximately 750-odd bugs in the relevant bugzilla 
component, more than half were filed more than 10 years ago (and that's 
not because bugfiling in BMO slowed down, the opposite happened; or 
because there are no serious bugs in the feed reader - parts of it have 
been broken for a year or two now after the switch to e10s).

I'm in the process of writing up a plan for how to proceed, but at this 
stage I would be lying if I didn't say that the most likely course of 
action is going to be to stop shipping feed support as part of Firefox, 
and to suggest people use add-ons instead. Webextensions can fill this 
gap pretty well with existing APIs, as they can detect and handle feed 
requests appropriately. If you knew about 
navigator.registerContentHandler and JS generally, it's likely you could 
write yourself a webextension that fits your needs relatively quickly. 
It'd basically boil down to looking for the feed mimetypes in response 
headers and forwarding the load to the webservice of your choice.

> A mechanism I'd like to propose:
> The pull-down for the subscription page already allows to choose an application on the client's file system; could we supply another entry to add a web application?
> I'd appreciate that!

As you may have guessed from the preceding paragraphs, it's unlikely we 
will add new features to this page.

> In general, I find the current state of the "subscribe" page lacking quite some explanations. For example, if I select a local application for feed subscription what arguments will be passed?

https://dxr.mozilla.org/mozilla-central/source/browser/base/content/browser-feeds.js#364

we pass a `feed:`-prefixed copy of the feed URI, potentially through the 
OS's "handle this URI" mechanism, or as a plain cmdline argument - 
nothing else.

> At least a link for further reading would help immensely, adding a "what is this?" to the page for some context about Web-Feeds could be quite helpful as well.
> Users without prior knowledge about Web-Feeds might benefit from it, especially when they explore Firefox's customization features.

There is already an introduction on first use when previewing a feed 
with the builtin UI, which goes away afterwards which would be why you 
aren't seeing it anymore. In en-US, it says:

> This is a “feed” of frequently changing content on this site.
> 
> You can subscribe to this feed to receive updates when this content changes.



> Also, could we maybe include these content handlers in the data synced with Firefox Accounts? It's rather discomforting to add the three lines of properties to about:config manually to every profile I create.

Again, this is unlikely to be implemented in Firefox, though you can do 
it yourself by setting the `sync` preferences for those preferences in 
about:config, too:

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Archive/Mozilla/Firefox_Sync/Syncing_custom_preferences

I don't know if this works without the preferences being present on the 
new client (otherwise I guess you're now just setting 6 things instead 
of 3 in about:config and that obviously wouldn't be much help).


Sorry this isn't better news.

Gijs
0
Gijs
3/14/2018 11:03:12 AM
On 3/14/18 7:03 AM, Gijs Kruitbosch wrote:
> Unfortunately, our web feed implementation is pretty unused.

Not least because it's not discoverable, ever since we removed the 
"there is a feed link on this page" icon, right?

(I don't disagree with any of what you said; I just think that the feed 
bits were effectively dead once we removed that UI, and I'm not sure why 
we didn't remove them then.)

-Boris
0
Boris
3/14/2018 2:16:36 PM
On Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 12:03:19 PM UTC+1, Gijs Kruitbosch wrote:
> Unfortunately, our web feed implementation is pretty unused.
This, tied together with

> approximately 750-odd bugs 
would be enough reason for me to drop the component all-together.
Helps focus on more important work, mostly unused legacy code eats time.

> I'm in the process of writing up a plan for how to proceed, but at this 
> stage I would be lying if I didn't say that the most likely course of 
> action is going to be to stop shipping feed support as part of Firefox, 
> and to suggest people use add-ons instead. Webextensions can fill this 
> gap pretty well with existing APIs, as they can detect and handle feed 
> requests appropriately.
Yeah, that's the route Chrome took as well. Most SaaS feed-aggregators 
provide their own extension for various browsers and the FOSS community
can care for it self, mostly.

> > Also, could we maybe include these content handlers in the data synced with Firefox Accounts? It's rather discomforting to add the three lines of properties to about:config manually to every profile I create.
> 
> Again, this is unlikely to be implemented in Firefox, though you can do 
> it yourself by setting the `sync` preferences for those preferences in 
> about:config, too:
> 
> https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Archive/Mozilla/Firefox_Sync/Syncing_custom_preferences
> 
> I don't know if this works without the preferences being present on the 
> new client (otherwise I guess you're now just setting 6 things instead 
> of 3 in about:config and that obviously wouldn't be much help).
Well, if that might be a problem, I "solved" that by replacing the first 
(yahoos') entry with mine, will see if it works.

I've come across this page and discarded it for being marked as obsolete.
I gave up the search, since I could not find anything else useful.

> Sorry this isn't better news.
No worries, just wanted to know more about the current state of affairs,
thank you for your time!

regards,
-1
0
gdkags
3/14/2018 2:28:45 PM
On 14/03/2018 14:16, Boris Zbarsky wrote:
> On 3/14/18 7:03 AM, Gijs Kruitbosch wrote:
>> Unfortunately, our web feed implementation is pretty unused.
> 
> Not least because it's not discoverable, ever since we removed the 
> "there is a feed link on this page" icon, right?

The toolbar button still exists but it is no longer part of the UI by 
default, no. You can still see this state by just opening the "old" 
bookmarks menu. Note that a significant number of large websites (e.g. 
CNN, BBC, WSJ, ...) also no longer advertise RSS semantically (even if 
there are still feeds available for them if you go looking), so that 
button doesn't buy you much in terms of discoverability anymore anyway.

> (I don't disagree with any of what you said; I just think that the feed 
> bits were effectively dead once we removed that UI, and I'm not sure why 
> we didn't remove them then.)

We removed it for Firefox 4 (bug 578967), when I believe we were more 
reluctant to actually remove rarely-used functionality completely, 
preferring to leave it to zombie on. Though 8 years ago, I would also 
totally buy that the landscape at the time wouldn't have justified 
removing live bookmarks and the feed preview outright, even if it did 
justify not having that orange icon take up primary UI space in the 
location bar for everyone. :-)

~ Gijs
0
Gijs
3/14/2018 4:54:39 PM
On 14/03/2018 14:28, gdkags@gmail.com wrote:
> On Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 12:03:19 PM UTC+1, Gijs Kruitbosch wrote:
>> Unfortunately, our web feed implementation is pretty unused.
> This, tied together with
> 
>> approximately 750-odd bugs
> would be enough reason for me to drop the component all-together.
> Helps focus on more important work, mostly unused legacy code eats time.

Just to be 100% clear, not all of those 750 bugs are open! I was just 
commenting on overall trends, ie when/where do people file bugs.

~ Gijs
0
Gijs
3/14/2018 4:55:58 PM
On Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 2:26 AM, <gdkags@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> PS: I'm sorry if this post violates any posting guidelines, I'm not
> accustomed to newsgroups.
>

It doesn't violate guidelines. In fact, your post was a very model of a
good post: polite, friendly, and informed. Posts from users who are having
trouble with Firefox functionality are not always like that. Thank you!

Nick
0
Nicholas
3/14/2018 9:18:23 PM
On Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 5:56:05 PM UTC+1, Gijs Kruitbosch wrote:
> Just to be 100% clear, not all of those 750 bugs are open! I was just=20
> commenting on overall trends, ie when/where do people file bugs.
Still, even if they were not actively taken care of or just filed out of ha=
tred; each, filing and maintaining bug reports are consuming time and somet=
imes (more often than not, YMMV) nerves.
Some bugs and feature requests I filed got no response and were fixed a yea=
r later, so I'm quite happy if I get a response within 24h.

DISCLAIMER: From here on, just rambling; nothing bad or useful.

More often than not, FOSS projects are abandoned, because their original ma=
intainer shifted priorities to something else.
I suspect that, at some time, someone in the Mozilla Firefox Community was =
passionate enough about RSS/Atom to hack a contentHandler and an acceptable=
 UI.
And maybe somebody else thought Thunderbird was a good idea, and even thoug=
h Mozilla abandoned the project it's still, by far(!), one of the best fron=
tends that support IDLEing multiple IMAP servers at once. Every other proje=
ct I've looked at is built on fear of race conditions and inconsistencies.
And rightfully so, they perished the thought.

More often than not, I find myself in steaming hatred against closed source=
 operating systems, because I can't change their behavior to my needs. Nor =
do I know somebody who works at $company so I can voice a (subjectively) va=
lid opinion, w/o being drowned by the hate train of consumers that values t=
radition over productivity. So I'm glad if there is at least a possibility =
of having a civil discussion.

At least from my perspective, 2017's been wildly successful for Firefox and=
 Mozilla as Rust/Servo finally helped Firefox break down one of the largest=
 barriers to multi-threading workload.
And even though Mozilla had some major mis-steps (like the Test Pilot thing=
), for me it's fine as long as people like Steve Klabnik are not penalized =
for speaking up against their employer when there's something they don't fe=
el fine with.

That creates a sense of community, something I deeply care about. Even thou=
gh I seldomly participate, I enjoy to have the possibility.

So again, thank all of you for your answers!

best regards,
-1
0
gdkags
3/15/2018 2:59:54 AM
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