Google maps out Chrome's RSS support

Chrome turns a blind eye to subscription offers from Web sites, but Google has revealed its plan to add the feature.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise Processors | Semiconductors | Web browsers | Quantum computing | Supercomputers | AI | 3D printing | Drones | Computer science | Physics | Programming | Materials science | USB | UWB | Android | Digital photography | Science Credentials
  • Shankland covered the tech industry for more than 25 years and was a science writer for five years before that. He has deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and more.
Stephen Shankland
2 min read

Google has unveiled its plans to let Chrome subscribe to RSS and Atom feeds.
Google has unveiled its plans to let Chrome subscribe to RSS and Atom feeds. Google

My biggest day-to-day gripe about Chrome is its missing support for automatic discovery of Web pages that offer RSS or other subscription services. But Google now has published a document detailing how it plans to address that weakness, though.

"We will autodetect RSS and Atom feeds using the standard autodiscovery tags," according to the developer document about Chrome support for RSS and Atom, a similar technology for letting people sign up for update "feeds" such as new blog postings. "When a feed is available for a page, we will display an RSS icon in the address bar."

Firefox shows the standard orange feed icon in its address bar when it encounters a site that has offers a feed; clicking it lets a person subscribe to the feed with a Web service such as Bloglines, My Yahoo, or Google Reader. Internet Explorer lets people subscribe to the feed using itself as the feed-reading software, an approach I dislike.

Google's mock-up of the Chrome page used to subscribe to RSS or Atom feeds.
Google's mock-up of the Chrome page used to subscribe to RSS or Atom feeds. Google

Though I switched to Chrome by default, I still use Firefox when I want to subscribe to a feed when there's no explicit or obvious option to do so on the Web page itself. Sometimes I seek out a feed, but with Chrome, there's often not even an icon to suggest I might want to even if I wasn't planning on it.

Chrome's subscription mechanism works as follows: when a person clicks on the feed link, Chrome will display a browser-formatted version of the content. Above the content is a "subscribe now" button with a drop-down menu that lets a person select a specific feed reader.

"A newly added feed reader becomes the default selected option the next time a feed is previewed," the document said.

The approach looks good to me, but there's no indication about when it will come to fruition. Google also showed a similar planning document for Chrome extensions, but version 1.0 has been released and there's still no way to use AdBlock Plus or Roboform, the two Firefox extensions I hear the most requests for in Chrome.

Google continues with its approach of release early and iterate often, though. On Tuesday evening, it released a new developer version of Chrome,

The new version fixes a spate of bugs, including a couple that hampered use of Microsoft's Hotmail and the activation of the F1 function key to show Google's Chrome help site.