We're back after a server migration that caused effbot.org to fall over a bit harder than expected. Expect some glitches.

The EffNews RSS Reader for Windows

Updated July 14, 2003 | Fredrik Lundh

The EffNews RSS Reader is a minimalist RSS reader for Windows.

The reader is shipped as part of the effbot.exe application framework.

The reader is based on the effnews toolkit, which is a freely available Python library that includes a tolerant RSS parser and an asynchronous HTTP client module.

[download] [user’s guide] [questions?]

If you love and respect very primitive and frugal things, EffNews certainly fits that profile. It’s like BlogBuddy - it’s for vegans, hobos and back-to-nature nuts :)

Brief EffNews User’s Guide

(for release 1.0.5 and later; the current version is 1.0.15)

Starting the Application

Use the effbot.exe icon on the desktop to start the application.

If there is no icon on the desktop, use the explorer to locate the c:\effbot.exe directory, and run the effbot.exe binary in that directory.

You can drag the icon to the start menu or to the process bar. If there is no icon, you can use the explorer to locate the executable, and use the “send to” menu to create a desktop shortcut.

Viewing RSS Channels

To view an RSS channel, click on the channel name in the list to the left. If the channel is loaded, it should appear in the main window within a second.

You can use the arrow keys to quickly scan for new articles.

To view an article in your browser, double click on the article’s title or body. Double-clicking on the channel title opens the channel’s home page, if available.

Or, click the right button over the article panel, and select Open in browser in the context menu that appears.

If the channel does not appear, the feed is broken or unavailable, or uses an unknown format. The effnews RSS parser knows about most RSS flavours, including RSS 0.9, RSS 0.9x, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Echo (in 1.0.10 and later). The parser can also work around some common problems, but may have to give up if the feed is too messed up. In that case, a somewhat technical error message is displayed instead of the channel contents.

Adding RSS Channels

To add a channel, use your favourite web browser to look for nice sites that support RSS. Look for links to the RSS feed; this is often an orange (or blue) button with the text XML (or RSS), or a link that mentions RSS or Syndication or something similar.

When you’ve found something that might be an RSS link, use the mouse to drag it from the browser and drop it anywhere in the effnews application window. If successful, the site should appear in the effnews window after a few seconds.

If the effnews application window is not visible, drag the link to the effnews item in the Windows taskbar (usually at the bottom of the screen). This will bring the application window to front, so you can drop it in the window as usual.

If you like what you see, click on the <add button. This adds the site to the channel list.

If you cannot find a link, you can try dropping the URL of the home page itself on the effnews application. If the URL doesn’t point to RSS data, the viewer will attempt to “auto-discover” the RSS feed by looking for clues in the page’s source code.

You can also add channels based on ordinary web pages, or other non-RSS sources, by adding provider plugins to the application. The application ships with a sample plugin for PythonWare’s Daily Python URL site (to subscribe to that channel, drag that link to the application window as usual).

Refreshing RSS Channels

To refresh all channels, click the refresh button in the lower left corner.

Channels that have been modified since they were last viewed are marked with an asterisk.

To refresh an individual channel, display it, click the right button over the article panel, and select Reload in the context menu. This forces effnews to reload the channel even if it hasn’t changed.

Removing RSS Channels

To remove a channel, display it as usual, click the right button over the article panel, and select Remove channel in the context menu.

Organizing RSS Channels

To change the channel order, you can use the mouse to drag the channels around in the channel list.

To rename channels, shut down the application and use your favourite text editor (!) to edit the c:\effbot.exe\effnews.ini file.

(yes, I know. I’ll fix this in a some post-1.0 release)

Known Issues

(in release 1.0.9 and later)

The modification indicator is sometimes set even if the feed hasn’t changed. I’m investigating this, and will fix it as soon as I can figure out why this happens.

If you use mousewheel scrolling on a feed with few entries, effnews may display the contents twice (Fixed in 1.0.12).

There’s no feedback when you drag channels around in the channel list.

Also see the list of frequently asked questions.