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Forumzilla revived as Thunderbird extension

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mykmelez
 
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Joined: June 19th, 2003, 10:11 pm

Post Posted June 20th, 2003, 10:00 am

I've revived Forumzilla as a Thunderbird extension. Forumzilla is an RSS feed reader that presents news and blogs in the traditional three-pane mail interface. The new version adds a "News & Blogs" folder to your Thunderbird folder pane. Then, when you subscribe to feeds, Forumzilla checks them upon startup (and every 30 minutes thereafter) and downloads new items into sub-folders named after each blog. You can then read and manage them via the traditional Thunderbird mail interface.

The current version is pre-alpha quality. It doesn't crash (for me anyway), but things still don't work quite right. In particular, I'm having trouble getting message header databases to update when new messages come in. Sometimes they won't show up until after a restart (this is particularly true the first time you start up after installing the extension). Also, the message databases regularly don't show that a message has been downloaded, so it gets downloaded again, resulting in duplicates. I'd welcome help or advice from anyone with experience manipulating message databases in Mozilla/Thunderbird.

To run Forumzilla you need a Thunderbird build with the xmlextras extension, which is currently not in the Linux nightlies (haven't tested other platforms yet). Here's a build (built on RH 8.0) from 2003-06-19 with the necessary support (it also has spellchecker):

http://melez.com/mozilla/thunderbird-i6 ... ras.tar.gz

(Standard Mozilla MailNews builds also work, for those so inclined.)

And here's the Forumzilla XPI:

http://downloads.mozdev.org/forumzilla/ ... lla040.xpi

There's no UI yet for subscribing to feeds, but doing so is still quite simple. After installing the XPI, shut down Thunderbird, then put a file called subscriptions.txt into your profile directory with a list of RSS feed URLs (one per line). Then start Thunderbird back up. Forumzilla will add the "News & Blogs" folder and start downloading items from the feeds. I've tried it out on a few different feeds:

Asa's blog: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/index.rdf
Mitch Kapor's blog: http://blogs.osafoundation.org/mitch/index.rdf
Kuro5hin: http://www.kuro5hin.org/backend.rdf
mozillazine forums: http://forums.mozillazine.org/rdf.php?f=28

It should work with any RSS 0.9x, 1.0, and 2.0 feed, but there are probably still issues due to the wide variety of feeds out there. Email me if you find one that doesn't work (by the current definition of work, which may require you to restart Thunderbird to see the messages) or if you have other questions.

-myk

jedbro

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Post Posted June 20th, 2003, 2:28 pm

Looks very nice on Linux, but what about windows?
What Thunderbird build can we use under Windows?
Thanks!

mykmelez
 
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Joined: June 19th, 2003, 10:11 pm

Post Posted June 21st, 2003, 8:01 pm

At the moment, I don't know of any Windows Thunderbird with xmlextras, but you can install Forumzilla into Mozilla on Windows and use it there. Sorry it isn't easier. I'm chatting with Scott about adding xmlextras to the default build options for Thunderbird; otherwise I might have to compile it myself and add it to Forumzilla.

Homer
 
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Joined: May 9th, 2003, 8:57 pm

Post Posted June 27th, 2003, 10:28 am

myk, if xmlextras is needed only for this extension, wouldn't it make more sense to be part of the extension rather than a base build? Not sure of actual footprint it would add, but it might be construed as bloat to add something to the base build for the benefit of an extension

pangloss
 
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Joined: September 7th, 2003, 4:45 am

Post Posted February 4th, 2004, 1:59 pm

fyi, for future searchers who find this: xmlextras is now a build requirement for thunderbird (see nov 12 entry in <a href="http://www.mozilla.org/projects/thunderbird/changes.html">recent thunderbird work</a>).

i just got forumzilla 046 working with thunderbird 0.4 on windows 2000. not sure what the development status of forumzilla is, however (i.e. if it's dead). would be nice to be able to configure how often it checks feeds. and would be nice if there was a way to remove the local folders that thunderbird creates (e.g. Unsent Messages, Drafts, Templates) since those don't have any use, unless forumzilla will someday allow posting to blogs too (which would be great).

andyed

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Joined: November 5th, 2002, 6:31 am
Location: Clemson, SC

Post Posted March 1st, 2004, 9:16 pm

Nice!

My basic feature request list:
* subscription editor
* manual feed updating
* small screen renderer for blog previews
* less CPU spiking
* open preview pane page in browser

Getting fancy, I'd like to bootstrap on the excellent mail search built into mozMail to provide a merged view of most recent posts. This could be a custom window or take over the mail homepage for each folder.

A user adjustable date filter combined with a rework of the mail search preview pane and a corresponding message view pane would be excellent.

I've considered copying the message search panel, hardcoding the folder, and adding a preview pane for minimum effort satisfaction!

mykmelez
 
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Joined: June 19th, 2003, 10:11 pm

Post Posted March 8th, 2004, 2:17 pm

I've talked to the mail hackers about the default folders (Drafts, Templates, etc.) issue, and we're working on a solution that'll remove them (except for Trash, which still makes sense).

A subscriptions editor is also in the works, although other ways of subscribing (dragging and dropping feed URLs from the browser, specifying a feed URL when creating a folder, importing OPML, etc.) may happen first.

Manual feed updating is also going to happen at some point, although I'm not sure when.

I'm not sure what you mean by "small screen renderer for blog previews". Can you elaborate?

Less CPU spiking is here with the 0.4.9 release (available now)! 0.4.9 implements remote loading of content, so Forumzilla displays the original URL instead of downloading its content (for feeds that provide URLs instead of inline content). Besides reducing CPU horkage (because Forumzilla doesn't have to download a bunch of web pages and store them locally all at once), it also reduces hard drive usage, you always get the latest version of the content (instead of the version at the time you pulled it), and content located at anchors work correctly (i.e. you see the page scrolled to the anchor's position rather than the top of the page).

As for opening the preview pane page in a browser, note that clicking a link in the page will open the link in the browser, and posting GET forms will do the same (although POST forms fail). In what situations would this feature be useful to you?

As for merged views, this will probably be solved in the long term with virtual folders. In the medium term I'd like to make it possible for a folder to store multiple subscriptions, so you could have a sort of "Inbox" for feeds you wanted to merge and then use filters to split them out into separate folders afterwards.

mykmelez
 
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Joined: June 19th, 2003, 10:11 pm

Post Posted March 8th, 2004, 2:20 pm

Btw- regarding posting to blogs, I would like to make it possible for users to post to blogs using Forumzilla in the long term, but at the moment I'm concentrating on getting reading working as well as possible.

andyed

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Location: Clemson, SC

Post Posted March 10th, 2004, 7:28 am

mykmelez wrote:I'm not sure what you mean by "small screen renderer for blog previews". Can you elaborate?


Minimo has been reported to have a small screen renderer which reduces the horizontal size of a page. I use T-Bird in 3 column mode and some blogs don't cooperate, forcing me to horizontally scroll.


mykmelez wrote:Less CPU spiking is here with the 0.4.9 release


Thanks, I've noticed that.

mykmelez wrote:As for opening the preview pane page in a browser, note that clicking a link in the page will open the link in the browser, and posting GET forms will do the same (although POST forms fail). In what situations would this feature be useful to you?


One case is when the page doesn't render well. Other times, I simply want to open the blog post in the browser for later perusal. Many blogs don't make it easy to find a permalink.

mykmelez wrote:As for merged views, this will probably be solved in the long term with virtual folders. In the medium term I'd like to make it possible for a folder to store multiple subscriptions, so you could have a sort of "Inbox" for feeds you wanted to merge and then use filters to split them out into separate folders afterwards.


Hmm, I remember the virtual folders bug (http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=11051). Not sure I'm willing to wait for that!

What do you think of using a custom search for items posted in the last 24 hours, sorted by recency, and setting that as the News & Blog account homepage?

mykmelez
 
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Joined: June 19th, 2003, 10:11 pm

Post Posted March 11th, 2004, 8:37 pm

I'm not sure it makes sense as the home page, which I'd like to be a gentle introduction to Forumzilla with links for common tasks (like subscribing), but I could see this custom search being a link off the home page which opened up in the same window.

peaston
 
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Joined: March 8th, 2004, 6:57 am

Post Posted March 20th, 2004, 1:16 am

I've installed Forumzilla with TB v. 0.5. Love it! But I have experience performance issues with TB after installing Forumzilla. Occasionally the program will stop responding, usually when I first open the application, perhaps multi-tasking. I find that if I wait a while and don't touch anything, TB will eventually revive w/o crashing. Is this due the CPU spiking discussed above?

ckjnigel
 
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Joined: November 5th, 2002, 12:37 am

Post Posted March 21st, 2004, 7:40 pm

It works nicely for me with the Mar 15 Tb Win installer build. I was pleasantly surprised that moreover feeds work.
But, I really gotta urge the option of specifically selecting a browser to open for story reading, along with which profile when using Moz family browsers. [I only use IE for Yahoo and Oddpost mail, but too many apps expect that as default...] AFAIK, Beaver was the only RSS viewer with this selection feature, which made it possible to use the tiny footprint Off-by-One browser with all fancies turned off.

mykmelez
 
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Joined: June 19th, 2003, 10:11 pm

Post Posted March 22nd, 2004, 12:44 pm

peaston wrote:I've installed Forumzilla with TB v. 0.5. Love it! But I have experience performance issues with TB after installing Forumzilla. Occasionally the program will stop responding, usually when I first open the application, perhaps multi-tasking. I find that if I wait a while and don't touch anything, TB will eventually revive w/o crashing. Is this due the CPU spiking discussed above?


Yeah, Thunderbird freezing is generally because Forumzilla is maxing out the CPU in the process of downloading feeds. The most recent version of Forumzilla no longer downloads the stories themselves (it just loads the remote URLs), which significantly improves performance, but it may still be possible for performance to suffer (perhaps even to the point where Thunderbird temporarily freezes) if you are subscribed to a lot of feeds. How many feeds are you subscribed to, and are you running the latest version of Forumzilla?

mykmelez
 
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Joined: June 19th, 2003, 10:11 pm

Post Posted March 22nd, 2004, 12:49 pm

ckjnigel wrote:It works nicely for me with the Mar 15 Tb Win installer build. I was pleasantly surprised that moreover feeds work.
But, I really gotta urge the option of specifically selecting a browser to open for story reading, along with which profile when using Moz family browsers.


I'm not sure what you mean about specifically selecting a browser. Thunderbird displays the stories itself rather than passing them to a browser, and there's no feature (yet) for opening the stories in an external browser. Are you referring to links within the stories which take you to a browser when you click on them? What happens now when you click on a link?

peaston
 
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Joined: March 8th, 2004, 6:57 am

Post Posted March 22nd, 2004, 6:59 pm

I am not sure what version of the TB Forumzilla extension I am running, how can I find this out? The information is not provided from TB's options extension settings. If I wait, TB comes back. It will only crash if I start trying to click other buttons. Also, it only seems to be a problem when I start the program.

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