Disclaimer: This is an application that I developed, but I got permission to post this by asking team@stackoverflow.com first.

Feed Notifier is a Windows application that resides in the system tray and displays pop-up notifications on your desktop when new items arrive in your subscribed RSS or Atom feeds.


I personally use it to track all of my favorite Stack Overflow tags. I'm sharing it here because I think you guys might find it useful for the same purpose. Here's what it looks like:

alt text http://www.feednotifier.com/images/stack_overflow.png

From Feed URL: https://stackoverflow.com/feeds/tag/python

This is not like a normal RSS reader in that it gives you near real-time, transient notifications. If you see a headline pop up that isn't interesting, just ignore it and you won't see it again. If you like it, click the link to launch it in your browser.

I often am able to get an answer in first because this app lets me see it very soon after it was asked.

Stack Overflow (and the rest of the trilogy) have RSS feeds all over the place so you can subscribe to just those things you are interested in. However, you can also add keyword filters to the application to inclusively or exclusively filter the popups. That can be useful if you find the application too distracting (I don't use them myself).

I also use the app to see Subversion commits as soon as they occur by subscribing to the TRAC timeline at work. I'm sure you guys can appreciate that use case as well. A full-blown RSS reader is overkill for that. I can use svn log if I need to look through a list of commits, not my reader.

I hope that this will be of use to some of you.

  • So how do I get an RSS feed to the SU newest questions page? – Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '10 at 12:45
  • Hopefully you asked for permission before adding it to any "rss notifier" question on SU, before, as well. (superuser.com/users/27055/foglebird) ;) Note that I have nothing against proposing your own programs as answer to a current question, but be more subtle to not poke any related question just to talk about it :-] – Gnoupi Mar 30 '10 at 12:47
  • @Gnoupi - Most of those questions were asking specifically for an application like mine. I didn't just post willy nilly on any RSS question. :) (Okay, I guess the FileHippo one wasn't really applicable.) – FogleBird Mar 30 '10 at 12:52
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    @lvo - Did you try superuser.com/feeds? Just click the RSS icon on whichever page has what you want to subscribe to. – FogleBird Mar 30 '10 at 12:54
  • @FogleBird - No problem. If it was without a disclaimer and for a non-free program, I would have personally bashed you with my keyboard. But you put nicely that you made it, and it was far from basic spam ;) – Gnoupi Mar 30 '10 at 12:56
  • @FogleBird: that one gives me an update on every activity, I only want to see new questions popping up ;-) – Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '10 at 13:08
  • @lvo - Did you try it in the app? The app caches items by ID, so unless the ID changes you shouldn't see the same question more than once, even if it gets bumped up in the feed itself. – FogleBird Mar 30 '10 at 13:13
  • @FogleBird: off course I don't check every question, but I just want to get notified when a new question is posted. Since if I see anything off-topicish: I kill it! – Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '10 at 13:15
  • @Ivo - This is something to ask in general on Meta, not linked to this little program. Having simply the feed of new questions, not the recent activity. – Gnoupi Mar 30 '10 at 13:17
  • @Gnoupi: I thought it already existed, but was merely to stupid to quess the url. Guess I'm not :P – Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '10 at 13:22
  • @lvo - I still think that feed will work for you, try it. – FogleBird Mar 30 '10 at 13:43
  • The RSS icon of feednotifier.com is a bit small, I can't find it. – Pascal Thivent Mar 30 '10 at 14:00
  • @Pascal - I had the same feeling, strangely. – Gnoupi Mar 30 '10 at 14:01
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    @Ivo - Using the "recent questions" feed seems to work for the use you were asking. It will show only new ones (or the old ones which pop to surface, which is also good to see the advertising or "thank you it works for me" answers), or maybe some others like changed title, or closed. But globally, so far, it works good to pop mostly the new questions. – Gnoupi Mar 31 '10 at 13:30
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    Feed Notifier is open source now! – FogleBird Sep 29 '10 at 23:40

Well, just tried it, and I have to say that it seems quite good, for now.

It does nice notifications for some "unimportant" feeds, giving you opportunity to check quickly if you are interested in, and to click on it if so, but doesn't disturb you with a long list to check. I like the "click or forget" approach (even though this notifier allows for caching them as well).

It is obviously thought with things that programmers at work would expect and need: possibility to set a proxy, and most importantly, easy access to a "disable updates" command (in case someone checks on you, or work with you on same computer, to avoid the popping up all the time). In this approach, it could even have a keyboard shortcut to activate/deactivate updates... but that's not as necessary ;)

I like the fact that you can set your update time the way you want, even to a few seconds (and the fact it reminds you that under 1 minute, your sysadmin could be a bit unglad about it :) )

Great tool to follow questions on the trilogy indeed, and as well for some other news.

Edit: removed some bug report which wasn't really one

Be careful though about the "feed cache" setting, when trying to change a bit, it is necessary to compare with incoming updates, and should be at least as big as the number of entries in your feeds. So don't act like me and believe you can use it to reduce the number of entries actually kept in the list shown.

Aside from this little thing, I have to say that this is quite effective, I managed to be the first one to answer correctly a question on SO, something which didn't happen to me until today. So I guess your program is indeed great and effective in a trilogy use.

  • Now if only I knew how to get feeds on the moderator tools :-P – Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '10 at 13:11
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    @Ivo - if you manage to get a private link to "flagged with a close vote" questions, I want it too :-]. – Gnoupi Mar 30 '10 at 13:16
  • @Gnoupi - Thanks for the review. Glad you like it. :) – FogleBird Mar 30 '10 at 13:35
  • @Gnoupi - "Item History" determines how many items remain in the history. "Feed Cache" is a cache of ID's so the app won't show you the same thing twice. Though you've obviously figured this out. Don't set it to 5. :-P (It's only configurable in case someone has a gigantic feed with more than 500 items in it - rare but not impossible.) Maybe I'll rename the setting, but I don't think your conclusion of "doesn't fully work for me" is fair. – FogleBird Mar 30 '10 at 14:02
  • @FogleBird - that's from a simple user's point of view. My use case doesn't work, hence the program doesn't fully work for me. Thank you for the explanation. I would suggest then to have a thinner "item history" setting, like for the "feed update", having other "units" besides days. Don't take my remarks the wrong way, really, these are only suggestions to make some settings more clear, for users who would for example have no idea what this cache means. – Gnoupi Mar 30 '10 at 14:09
  • @FogleBird - naming is probably ok, when knowing what it is about, this is matching. However, it could use some tooltips, probably, describing what it is, and why changing it. – Gnoupi Mar 30 '10 at 14:17
  • @FogleBird - other proposition, an option to "keep alive" the popup if the mouse pointer is on it. If I want for example to check for a few seconds more the summary, I have reflex to point on it. Maybe it would be a good idea to have such possibility, I don't know, it's just a suggestion. – Gnoupi Mar 31 '10 at 9:02

My IP got banned recently for downloading too much data, so I thought I'd download this program and see if it works. So far it's awesome. I've verified with Wireshark that it accepts GZIP encoding. It also stops updates if I'm inactive for more than a minute.

  • It also uses HTTP Etags and modified timestamps to avoid downloading the feed XML if nothing has changed since the last poll. :) (That's thanks to the Universal Feed Parser Python module I used.) – FogleBird Apr 2 '10 at 12:17

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