Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2010.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Goodbye, Liferea

Posted 19 December 2010 in liferea and software

I've not seen eye-to-eye with the developers of my current feed aggregator, Liferea for a long time. I became aware that we had different ideas about how a feed aggregator should work when they tried implementing a new message count in the notification icon, but happily that decision was reversed.

Most recently the difference was hammered home when I read they had implemented what I consider to be a non-feature: sorting your feeds in alphabetical order. This has been something that I've wanted for a long time, but they implemented it as a context menu option instead of as something that happens automatically. Most astonishing was the last bit of the blog entry:

In several discussion about the need of this feature the usual argument was about the feed lists being much too long and a specific feed to hard to locate. Sorting all feeds would speed up the feed lookup. To everyone having this problem: please use folders! Organize your feeds in topic folders, don't add more than ~10 feeds to a folder. Don't even start loosing the overview!

I personally do believe the sorting option shouldn't even be necessary. Using folders has too many advantages (recursive viewing, hiding read items) to not utilize them.

See, and I do use the folders to organize my feeds into categories, but the developers don't grasp the problem I'm having: if I want to remove a feed I have to find the thing first. If I add a feed, I have to manually sort it so that I can always find it later. I never run into this when reading feeds, I run into this when organizing feeds. My inconvenience is trivialized by Lars Lindner's broad assertion that "you're not using the software correctly", but the conciliatory solution reflects a deep misunderstanding of my use case.

That said, I'm not writing this to condemn the developers' choice in how the software works, but instead to highlight the divide between how we think it should function. I respect that they want the software to work one way, and are writing it with that use case in mind (although why-oh-why they would ever add a feature without understanding why they're doing so is beyond me). But it's appropriate for me to find another piece of software that works by default the way I think it should.

Liferea is a powerful, featureful feed aggregator that has served me very reliably for a long time. I've felt several times during my years of use that it doesn't completely mesh with how I think, and I think that being told "you're not using the software correctly" is a good reason to set off in search of software that I will use correctly...I just hope that it's as good as Liferea.