Monday, May 04, 2009

NewsFox XML Error in Firefox 3.5 b4 patched

Despite a rather involved search for an acceptable RSS feed reader (client or “embedded”) I’ve yet to find a RSS feed reader that surpasses the way the Firefox RSS Add-on NewsFox works for the way I surf/blog and read feeds.

NewsFox has been working fine with my RSS/Atom feed rendering up to and including the Firefox 3.1 beta 3 build I have been using.

Recently Firefox 3.5 beta 4 was released and NewsFox started throwing XML rendering issues on a number of feed posts.

Some RSS feeds would render correctly 100% of the time in NewsFox. Other RSS feeds would have some articles displayed properly and others did not.

Testing for a corrupt profile or Add-on cross-conflict didn’t resolve the issue so I assumed the issue had either to do with changes in the newer Firefox rendering engine code or the NewsFox parser wasn’t able interface with it correctly.

I’ve been using NewsFox version 1.0.5.RC1 with no issues (until now).

The developers of NewsFox have been on a much deserved vacation according to the NewsFox forum so I decided to just keep using Firefox 3.1 beta 3 until a newer version came up.

After about of week of periodic searches for others with a similar problem, I figured the NewsFox developers might not know what is going on so I posted a forum comment about my observations and error.

Amazingly I got a fast response from vaganyik wondering if it was related to Bug 20801.

Turns out it was.

R. Pruitt (a.k.a. wa84it) quickly posted this on the bug page:

The prior NewsFox strategy for displaying XML was

Atom and XML -> display XML
RSS -> try XML -> success: display as XML
-> failure: display as HTML

Unfortunately with Gecko 1.9.1, the 'try XML' step generates fatal errors
unable to be caught. At least it seems so from looking at it for 2 minutes.

Here is a version that does not do the 'try XML' step, and so should work fine
with FF3.5 and SM2.0. Final solutions will await when I really start looking
at things which may be a week or two. The only downside(ie why I bothered with
the 'try XML' step at all) is that SVG graphics and other XML goodies won't
display in RSS feeds, although they still will work in atom feeds.

Great background information on how NewsFox is working behind the scenes.

He also provides a CGI file there as well.

If you are running NewsFox, encounter the XML error on your feeds, and are using Firefox 3.5 beta 4 (tested in Windows (XP/Vista)) and want to be rid of them, then give the following “patch” a fix.

  1. Download the no XML errors in Gecko 1.9.1 (id=5854) CGI file by clicking on the link provided. It should offer you the change to install software into your Firefox build.

  2. Allow the install at the top notification bar.

  3. You should then get the “Software Installation” pop-up to install “attachment.cgi”.

  4. Don’t freak. The cgi file is like an XPI file.

  5. Allow the installation to progress. (You might have to override any “maxVersion’ compatibility checking.)

  6. You should then see NewsFox as listed being updated and Firefox needing a restart.

  7. Allow the restart and then recheck your NewsFox RSS feeds. All should now be well.
NewsFox should now report (post patch) in as NewsFox version 1.0.5rc1_noXML

Please note that this is just a temporary patch until the NewsFox coding guru’s can get back to work and do a more elegant fix.

Besides showing just how awesome the NewsFox maintainer R. Pruitt is, this has also clarified for me another question.

Often when adding new feeds, I am presented with options for RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, or Atom feed formats.

I must admit that usually I just go with RSS 1.0 or 2.0 over Atom not really understanding the nuances between them.

However, it is clear that Atom format seems to be the preferred choice seeing how NewsFox renders the additional information they provide without errors. In comparison, NewsFox has to do additional handling steps when RSS feeds contain XML code.

For any NewsFox user who might be encountering this….


--Claus V.

P.S. This also fixes the same XML rendering error in the Firefox “nightly/Minefield” versions as well. However those builds have another issue with NewsFox in that the NewsFox area is reduced to approximately 3/4 of the tab area. Certainly functional but not the whole-tab coverage in the beta/final Firefox versions. I’m not complaining about that one as it’s one thing to have an error in a beta/RC version release and a whole different thing (IMHO) when you are using nightly developer builds. I wouldn’t want to waste the wa84it’s time focusing on alpha level browser build compatibility.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There can only be one RSS reader...FeedDemon, works great, syncronises with the web so you store your RSS list online, so if you run it on multiple computers then it is aware of what feeds you have read etc