I found one possible reason for Snackr crashing on the Mac: it seems that if CoolIris for Safari is installed, it interferes with Snackr/AIR (specifically, the input manager it installs seems to cause the problem). Try uninstalling the plugin (in Safari, do View > Remove CoolIris) and see if that fixes the problem with Snackr.

Not sure this is a bug I can fix in Snackr; it seems to be some interaction between the input manager and AIR. I might just have to note that Snackr is incompatible with Safari CoolIris. (CoolIris for Firefox seems to work fine.)

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It’s official–Thermo is now Flash Catalyst! Ryan Stewart and I did a demo of the current (very early) build of Flash Catalyst at the day 2 keynote at MAX, and we also made a video of the same demo for this month’s issue of the Adobe Edge newsletter, which just came out today. Julie Campagna and the Edge production team did a great job putting the video together–check it out!

(By the way, I just noticed that when I introduced the ecotours comp in this video, I said “I created this design in Adobe Photoshop”. That’s demo-ese for “I’m pretending to be the visual designer in this workflow”; the comp was actually designed by the folks at Gotomedia, who also created a lot of the other assets we used in the day 2 keynote–thanks guys!)

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Adobe AIR was just updated to 1.5 recently, and it seems to have fixed at least one long-standing Snackr bug–items should now open in tabs in Firefox rather than in new windows if you have that preference set in Firefox. However, I’ve been getting some reports from Mac users that Snackr crashes under AIR 1.5 when opening feed items. I can’t reproduce it on my own MacBook and MacBook Pro with OS X 10.5.5, so I’m wondering how many other folks are seeing this. Please comment if:

  • you’re seeing crashes with Snackr under AIR 1.5, or
  • you’re on a MacBook, have AIR 1.5, and are not seeing crashes.

If you are seeing crashes, please post the URL of a feed whose items are causing crashes. (I don’t think the problem is feed-specific, but it’s probably good to check.)


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I haven’t had much time to post to this blog (or work on Snackr) because our team has been really busy getting ready to show off an early version of Thermo at MAX 2008. In fact, we’re doing better than showing it–we’re also going to give a very early preview release to MAX attendees!

If you’re going to MAX, and you want to be one of the first to get your hands on it, you should sign up for the Introduction to Thermo session, where we’ll be giving out the first DVDs. The first session is full, but there’s some room left in the 5-6 pm session.

This MAX preview version is going to be Mac-only, and only available to MAX attendees. If you’re on Windows or can’t make it to MAX, don’t despair–watch this space for more info.

I’ll also be running a hands-on lab at MAX where I’ll walk attendees through using the Thermo preview build to turn an imported Photoshop comp into a working interactive design. I think the lab sessions are already full, but give it a shot if you’re interested.

Hope to see you at MAX! (And hopefully after MAX I can get back to working on Snackr…)

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It looks like we’ve had over 20,000 downloads of Snackr so far, which is pretty amazing to me. I suspect the number of regular users is much lower–taking a look at my server logs, it’s probably on the order of a thousand or so–but still, not bad for a little side project!

It’s been awhile since the last test build, but hopefully the new one is worth the wait–thanks to Rob Adams, Snackr v0.38 TEST has an early version of Google Reader integration! If you hook up Snackr to Google Reader, your feed list and read items will be synchronized both ways between the two.

Even if you don’t normally use Google Reader, if you use Snackr on multiple computers (e.g. home and work), it’s handy to sync all of them to Google Reader, so all your feed lists and read items stay in sync across your machines (that’s actually mostly what I use the integration for).

To set up the integration, just go to the Options popup and click on the Google Reader tab, check the checkbox, and enter your Google Reader username and password. You’ll get an option to choose whether you want to use Reader’s feed list or Snackr’s, or merge the two. Once you connect, if you have a lot of feeds in Reader, the ticker might stutter a bit as everything gets synchronized (we hope to improve this in future versions), but after a couple minutes it should clear up.

One important thing to note is that because the feed lists are synchronized, if you delete a feed in Snackr, it will be deleted in Google Reader. We’re hoping to make this optional in the future (so you can choose when deleting a feed in Snackr whether to also delete it in Reader), but for now be aware of this behavior.

Another new feature in this version is a set of helpful tools in the item popup, letting you email the item, post it to del.icio.us/digg, and more. I’m planning to make this extensible in the future, so you can add new tools from the Options popup.

As usual, because this is an early test build, there may be bugs lurking. So:

  1. Back up your Snackr database AND your Google Reader feed list first!
  2. Read the release notes
  3. Download the v0.38 build!

And, of course, send us feedback! You can post bugs/feature requests in the issues list, comment here, or send me email. Enjoy!

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There’s a new test build of Snackr, v0.35, up on Google Code. This version adds much better support for non-Western language feeds (in particular, feeds with encodings other than UTF-8). If you had trouble with Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Turkish, or other languages in previous versions of Snackr, please check this version out and let me know if it works for you.

This version also adds a much-requested feature: the ability to only show items within the last N hours (in previous versions, you could only set this to a number of days). To set this, just go to the Preferences tab of the Options popup, go to “Don’t show items older than”, type the number of hours you want, and choose “hours” instead of “days” from the dropdown.

Finally, this should fix a major bug I introduced in v0.34, where the ticker would permanently freeze after collapsing and re-expanding it in some situations. If you saw this bug before, please let me know if you still see it in this version.

As always, you can leave bug reports/feature requests in comments here, send me email, or file them in the Google Code issue tracker. Thanks!

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I’m starting to post interim test builds of Snackr on Google Code for people to try out. Since I don’t have a QA staff, I’d like brave souls to try them out before I put them up as official releases. They won’t be pushed out through autoupdate, so you’ll need to download them manually.

The first test build, 0.34 TEST, has a few new features and a number of bug fixes. (Sorry, Google Reader integration isn’t in yet, but we’re working on it!) The new features are:

  • Implemented ability to “star” items so you can read them later. Click the star icon in the item popup to star an item, then read starred items by clicking the star icon in the ticker tab.
  • Added option to configure feed fetch interval globally. This is at the bottom of the Feeds tab in the Options popup. You can also force all feeds to get refreshed here.
  • Added option to set transparency of ticker window. This is in the Preferences tab of the Options popup.

The list of bugfixes is detailed in the release notes on the wiki at Google Code. Before installing a test build, you might want to back up your feed database.

If you find any problems, or have thoughts on the new features, please file a bug and note which version you found the bug in. Thanks!

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The flood of Snackr downloads has finally slowed down to about 150 a day. Over 13,000 people have downloaded it so far; it looks like maybe about 500-600 people are running it daily–not bad for a little side project 🙂

Various people have requested the source code, so I’ve decided to host it on Google Code at http://snackr.googlecode.com/. You can file bugs/enhancement requests on the Issues tab there (the issues and wish list items from snackr.net have been migrated there), and check out the source anonymously using Subversion (instructions are on the Source tab).

The source is currently in an interim state–there are a couple of half-implemented features (the ability to “star” items to read later, and the Google Reader integration that Rob is working on)–but you should be able to run what’s there (the GR stuff isn’t hooked up at all to the UI yet, and the “star” functionality works but the UI is slightly broken). I’m planning to post interim test builds there once in awhile as well.

The source also probably isn’t the prettiest code ever :), and I haven’t finished commenting it, but I’m hoping to continue cleaning it up and refactoring over time. Feel free to check it out, and let me know if you have suggestions–or, better yet, patches you’d like to submit!

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The frenzy of Snackr downloading seems to be slowing down at last, but with more than 5250 downloads (and 500 mostly positive tweets on Twitter, including a plug by @scobleizer), I have to admit that I’m greatly surprised at how much interest there’s been. Frankly, I assumed Snackr would only appeal to a very small number of people; I figured most people would look at it and say “Huh? Why would I want this thing crawling across my screen?” (as, indeed, a number of people have).

After reading through a lot of the tweets and blog posts about Snackr, it seems to me that different people like different things about it. Some people like the design; others like the “up-to-the-minute” feel it gives (somewhat illusory, since it currently only updates each feed every 45 minutes for politeness); others are simply mesmerized by the crawl.

But I think the core of what a lot of people like about it is the same reason I built it originally: the randomness factor. It’s the idea that you don’t have to actually force yourself to keep up with every single thing on every feed, because you don’t have time to do that anyway; you can just sample. It’s very liberating, and it leads you to read items from feeds you don’t normally look at that often.

(Not everybody agrees with this idea; I’ve seen a number of tweets from people saying they didn’t think Snackr would work well if you have a lot of feeds, suggesting that they really want to read everything. In my view, Snackr doesn’t work well unless you have a lot of feeds; if you don’t have much to read, it would just scroll the same stuff by over and over again. But some people do seem to be interested in using it that way.)

Of course, the randomness could be decoupled from the ticker-style presentation; normal blog readers could easily implement a “pick random recent stuff for me” as well (in fact, I’m kind of surprised that popular readers like Google Reader and Bloglines don’t already have this). One of the early tweets about Snackr said “it’s almost what I want: a twhirl-like RSS reader” (twhirl is a popular Twitter client, also built with AIR). I didn’t quite get that at first–wouldn’t that just be like a normal blog reader? But it occurred to me that what he meant was that it would always feel like a mix of new stuff was showing up on top.

That idea, combined with the fact that there are definitely a lot of people turned off by the constant crawl of the ticker (and the lack of ability to control it directly), made me think that it would be worth adding a non-ticker mode to Snackr–a manually-scrollable list of items that would update itself every few minutes. It would still randomly sample feeds the same way the ticker does; it just wouldn’t distract you with constant motion.

This mode would probably be useful for other reasons as well. For example, I’ve started implementing a “star” button on items, so you can mark items you want to keep around to read later. I was originally thinking that when you wanted to read your starred items, Snackr would just switch to showing only starred items in the ticker. But it occurred to me that you might also just want a list of all your starred items that you could manually scroll through. Having a non-ticker mode would fulfill that need.

Anyway, since I have an actual day job (remember Thermo?), I probably won’t get to this immediately. (Not to mention the tons of other great suggestions and bug reports I’ve been getting.) But now that so many people are using it, I have a lot of incentive to keep improving it! Of course, people might tire of it quickly–it’ll be interesting to see how many people are still running Snackr a month down the road.

Now, if I’d only figured out a way to get ads into it…

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This is basically just an official repost of the test build I posted earlier, with better support for non-Western character sets and multiple select in the feed list so you can delete a bunch of feeds at once; see the release notes for more detail. Snackr should automatically offer to download the update next time you run it (or if you leave it running long enough); if that doesn’t seem to work, download it directly from http://snackr.net/. Please let me know if you have any problems!

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