One of the benefits of using a desktop RSS reader instead of a web-based one is that you can read your feeds offline – a major plus if you’re frequently without a reliable Internet connection. FeedDemon is already a good offline reader, but I’d like to make it a great one.
One thing that’s annoying when working offline in the current version of FeedDemon is that you’re asked whether to go online every time you click a link to an external web page. That’s fine if you can easily go online, but it’s pointless when you don’t have a connection to the Internet (like when you’re on a plane, or attending a conference with spotty WiFi). To remedy this, I’m changing FeedDemon to check whether the page exists in the browser cache, and if it does, it will display the cached page instead of asking to go online.
This ties into a request I’ve received quite frequently: the ability to prefetch (download) links and image in new items as they’re received, so you can work offline and still view external images and links in those items. In the past I’ve shied away from this since I feared it would require too much storage and slow things down, but perhaps I’ve been thinking about it all wrong?
It seems to me that most people wouldn’t really need cached links and images available for every single item – it’s really only the unread items they want to read offline. So, instead of prefetching links and images every time your feeds are updated, what if FeedDemon simply provided a way to prefetch unread items right before going offline?
This is something I’m experimenting with right now, and it seems to work pretty well (and it’s pretty cool being able to visit web pages you haven’t seen before even when working offline). The only stumbling point I’ve found is that some web sites use cache control headers which interfere with offline viewing, but since most sites are cache-aware this doesn’t appear to be a major problem.
So…for all you offline users, would these additions make FeedDemon the perfect offline reader for you, or is there something else I need to do to make it even better for offline use?