WebNews is a facility for monitoring news feeds on the internet whilst you are working. Instead of having to switch from CRiSP to a web browser and then seeing what sites have changed, you can avoid the switch and keep a constant eye on changing news as it happens.

Adding webnews to an editor might seem like a strange thing, but it is actually designed to improve productivity. With webnews, you can actually monitor more news sites and spend less time browsing, because you only see things which change and things of interest to you rather than having to poll sites for updates.

WebNews relies on news sites making available news summary pages (usually in an XML file format known as RSS or RDF files). You do not need to know how it works. There are thousands of sites on the web which provide everything from major news, technical news, weblogs, music news and more.

You can access the following sites from the WebNews facility:

  • Web sites providing RDF/RSS news feeds.
  • Google News groups
  • eBay auction items

The WebNews facility in CRSP is made available as a pane of the Contents window, i.e. it is displayed at the left of the editing area and provides two views – a scrolling tabular view, or a tree view so you can see what each site is doing. WebNews works by polling the remote sites, and each site is configurable in the delay between polls. For example, some sites might only update once a day, others, such as major news feeds may update every 15 minutes or so. You can control the amount of polling, e.g. to reduce network bandwidth and delays in CRiSP whilst downloading and updating news.

Table View 

The table view gives you a scrolling list of latest headlines. Every time a site is visited for updates, these are added to the bottom of the view. CRiSP is intelligent enough to filter out headlines which already appear in the table, so you get to see only new news.

This view is probably the ideal view for occasionally monitoring of new items.

CRiSP color codes items so you can easily distinguish news items and the sites they came from. It also date stamps the news, so that for example, when returning to CRiSP in the morning, you can distinguish yesterdays news from today’s updates.
Each news item includes a time stamp, and details of the URL to access the item. Double clicking on the item will cause the item to be loaded into your configured browser. (See the WWW Options settings in the Options menu to configure a non-default browser).

The table view supports tooltips – if a news item isn’t completely visible because the headline is too wide to fit in the available space, then hovering the mouse over the item will show a tip with the complete item in it, avoiding having to change the width of the table or having to use the scrollbar to sideways scroll.

CRiSP even includes a Mark Position command so you can underline news you have read, making it easier to distinguish items you have scanned versus new items appearing after your last visual check.

Tree View

The tree view organises incoming news as a tree, sorted by topic and site. You will be able to see all the news for a site. Unlike the table view, you will be able to see all the current news, rather than the incremental changes, making it ideal for scanning by site rather than age of item. Plus you can collapse and expand trees of sites or topics, so you can hide less interesting news.

CRiSP uses color-coding within the tree view to attempt to indicate the oldness of entries. By default, entries less than 1 hour old are coded red to indicate news alerts. Older items are colored green – making it much easier to see what has changed recently.

Double clicking on a news item will launch the item into your default browser.

Alerts View

The alerts view is designed to provide a way to filter down the amount of headlines in order to watch for specific items. With the default sites available in CRiSP you might see 100 headlines or more per hour. If you disappear from your computer for a while and come back you may miss something of interest. The Alerts view lets you do keyword searches on headlines and provides a way to see just those headlines matching specific keywords. For example, you might be interested In news on specific items (“LCD displays”, “US State Governor”, etc). Every time a matching headline appears, it is shown in the Alerts window as well as the main Table view.

You configure the words to search for from the Options dialog.

Multiple Views

Not only do you have a choice of views on the items, but because CRiSP supports multiple contents windows (either as dialogs or as MDI windows), you can simply create a new Contents window to solely display news, without interrupting your preferred project view of files and buffers.

Context Menu

Not only do you have a choice of views on the items, but because CRiSP supports multiple contents windows (either as dialogs or as MDI windows), you can simply create a new Contents window to solely display news, without interrupting your preferred project view of files and buffers.

You can access various commands by right clicking on a news item:

Properties This will popup a dialog showing details of the site and/or news item, including the URL. You can then proceed to make changes.

Pause This will pause further downloads, e.g. to avoid overloading your LAN link or because you are taking a break and don’t want any updates whilst you are away. This item will change to Resume if paused. When pausing, a reminder is added to the bottom of the table view so that you can know you need to re-enable the command.

Options Pops up the options dialog where you can make various settings changes and edit/view the list of configured sites.

Clear Clears the table or tree view so you can avoid clutter from older news items.
Mark Position Used on the table view to add an annotation at the bottom of the table. This is useful when you have a continual stream of news updates and its difficult to remember where you had gotten to when browsing the items.

Collapse all (Tree view only) Collapses all sites to hide the news. Newly added news items will re-expand the tree making it easier to see what is new and recent.

Kick off Use this to force the currently selected site to be refreshed from the remote site. Normally CRiSP will wait til the refresh time period has expired. Use this to force an update now.

Refresh all Causes the timer for each site to be reset, forcing a refresh from the sites immediately.

Enable site If a site has been disabled (either explicitly by you or due to an HTTP request error).

Help Displays this help window.

Status Shows the current internal operation status. Mainly used for debugging of the webnews interface.

View feed This will load the selected sites web page into CRiSP for viewing. Mainly used for diagnosing parsing errors on pages or to manually look for errors regarding URLs, e.g. pages being redirected.

Many sites seems to publish bogus news URLs. Sometimes viewing the page which was downloaded can help you to identify the real address.

Some sites may use dynamically changing URLs, e.g. on a day to day basis. These sites make it difficult to use webnews against. Viewing the downloaded page may help you to identify the reason for the lack of updates for that site.