Saturday, November 14, 2009

IE7 cannot detect RSS feeds?

Havent really paid much attention to it before but now I lately Im gotten really interested in RSS.

Im not sure whether Ive disabled any services or something, but IE for some reason NEVER detects any RSS feeds. Anything realted to RSS in IE settings or Menu bar are disabled. Ive even tried visiting the Microsoft website with feeds but nothing happens.

Do I need to do something to ENABLE RSS in IE7? Does RSS need a specific service to run?

IE7 cannot detect RSS feeds?
According to Microsoft, browsing RSS feeds from Internet Explorer works.

However, in digging further, it turns out that RSS in IE7 is not an unqualified success.

Microsoft has published admissions that due to shortcomings of the legacy code in IE7, it will not handle the RSS feed if it is marked as being standard XHTML - it has to be marked as legacy HTML code.

Major portions of your Microsoft operating system and applications can stop working if you disable services and - the World's Largest Global Variable: its Registry. So, while you are probably uneasy if you have done this - it might be the cause of the IE RSS problems you are having now.

A browser recognizes an RSS feed based on its MIME type - or at least it should.

Criteria for assigning a MIME type are set on the web server. The MIME type identification string is then sent from the web server to the client (i.e. "web browser") along with the content of the URL in an HTTP reply.

It is important that you verify that you are going to pages that are RSS content or have RSS content associated with them.

In order to do that, use a reputable web browser such as Safari 3 or Firefox 2 (or later).

If no browser is displaying the content you believe is RSS, then perhaps there is a problem with the file itself or the configuration of the web server upon which it resides.

I have not come across complaints of Safari and Firefox users when it comes to being able to view RSS feeds. However, Microsoft has admitted this is the case with IE7.

So, if they work for certain RSS feeds and IE7 does not - you may want to use what works. Especially when the reason is that those browsers follow the standards, and IE7 is not yet capable of following the relevant standards.

I have provided links to several sites that discuss the RSS feature of IE7. A couple of them point out that IE7 disregards MIME types, which is a standard way of identifying a page as being an RSS feed.

I am a programmer. So one of the techniques I use when diagnosing a problem like this is write a small script in Python that reads/displays the contents of a URL and the HTTP response headers. If you are a programmer yourself, you can study the MIME type returned by your web server in the HTTP header for your request.

Another handy tool you can use "out of the box" without writing an software is the "Live HTTP Headers" extension for the Firefox web browser. It will show you the HTTP headers when you want to see them. You do not have to be a programmer to use this tool.

It is quite possible that sites are following normal conventions to publish their RSS feeds and they show up fine in standard browsers, just not IE7. IE7 ignores MIME type headers in some cases, and in other cases refused to display the page because of the MIME type. Sadly, this happens in the case of standard MIME types - not just non-standard ones.

If that is the case your are having, then just use the browsers that really support the standards (RSS, XHTML when necessary, MIME type interpretation, etc.) during browsing sessions when you plan to browse RSS feeds.

If you are using IE7 and then want to browse an RSS feed but can't, copy or drag the URL from the IE browser to Safari or Firefox - and paste or drop the URL there.

Personally, I have routinely used two or more web browsers most days since the mid-1990s. It is rarely a problem.

In fact, it really empowers me to do more not less. Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X make it easy to go from one browser to another in far less than a second.

Browser makers tend to notice when the use of their browser drops. If RSS is important to you, by using the other browser to view RSS feeds, you are communicating this back to the IE7 development team in the clearest way possible.

IE7 has the oldest code base of any web browser still in use today.

IE was written my adding code to a school project of the original Netscape web browser programmers, called "NCSA Mosaic".

NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) was a project at their school, UIUC (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

Other NCSA projects that preceded Mosaic included NCSA Telnet for the Macintosh, and NCSA TCP/IP which provided free Internet software to the Macintosh before such support become a part of Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft licensed the Mosaic source code from a company called "Spyglass". That company was spun off by the school so technology companies such as Microsoft could offer the web browser in or as a product, if they paid a licensing fee.

By contrast, the other web browsers are much more modern and were designed in an era where both realism and standards for the web already existed. They were not based on "legacy" code, the way IE was. They were also created by people that were mostly experienced with creating web browsers.

By contrast, in the early 1990s when Mosaic was being written, developers were figuring things out as they went along.

It is also important to bear in mind that modern standards are far closer to versions of file formats and protocols that were formalized in the late 1990s - not the ones of the early 1990s.

While 1998-2008 conventions and standards (XML, RSS, XHTML, etc.) could not have been anticipated in early 1990s code, they were very much a part of the Safari %26amp; Firefox web browsers.

From reading the 2005 and 2006 articles about IE7 (released 2006), it sounds as if limitations of legacy code are what behind the limitations to IE7's ability to handle RSS feeds that other browsers have no problem with.

Use this information as you see fit to overcome the problems you have viewing RSS feeds with IE7. And good luck.

No comments:

Post a Comment