Mozilla, Microsoft Promote New Syndication Icon

Syndication feed icon

The developers of Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 have agreed on a common icon to represent syndication feeds, an orange radial symbol created by Stephan Horlander for Firefox. Both browsers display the icon in the status bar when a web page has been associated with a feed using autodiscovery, a simple HTML link tag that provides the feed's address:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="">

The icon's format-agnostic, working with Atom or any version of RSS.

The next releases of Internet Explorer and Outlook will use the icon to represent feeds, according to Microsoft developer Jane Kim:

We'll be using the icon in the IE7 command bar whenever a page has a feed associated with it, and we'll also use it in other places in the browser whenever we need a visual to represent RSS and feeds. Look for more details on the look and feel of IE7 when we post the public pre-release build next year.

The new icon's presence in 95 percent of all web browsers is likely to settle the question of what graphic to associate with RSS and Atom feeds, no matter how many early adopters are using the orange XML icon today.

For web publishers who'd like to use the icon on their sites, a usage permitted by Horlander, Matt Brett offers it for download in sizes ranging from 10-by-10 to 128-by-128 pixels.

I've adopted the icon on Workbench this afternoon, because I think it could spark greater adoption of syndication with the general public. Only four percent of Internet users are knowingly using syndication feeds, according to a Yahoo study. Most people will get their first exposure to syndication through this chipper-looking blibbet.


I think you have confused Really Simple Discovery (which helps you locate a weblogging services (typically implemented in XML/RPC) with autodiscovery (which helps you locate resources).

Scan rsd for "alternate" to see what I mean.

Oops. Fixed. Thanks!

RSS coming of age

Seems like it

When I click on that button in my browser, it adds a Live Bookmark. I clicked on your button, and just got a lot of unformatted junk on my screen. I looked through all my bookmark folders, trying to see where the Live Bookmark got added, but I couldn't find it. Do you know where it is? Can you come show it to me?

Are you asking a rhetorical question?

When I click on the icon in the status bar of Mozilla Firefox (Deer Park Alpha 2), an Add Live Bookmark dialog opens asking where to save the bookmark.

DPA2? Is this August 2005?

More of a leading question: how will it make things simpler for Real Users to have one icon which means two different things depending on where they see it? "If I click it here, it works, if I click it there, I get garbage; sometimes when I see it there, it tells me I'll see it if I look up here*, other times when I see it there I don't see it up here, and I don't know what to do."

* The autodiscovery icon moved out of the status bar, up to the address bar, last August. Offhand, I can't remember what security holes using DPA2 leaves you open to, though.

DPA2's the build I downloaded fresh last week to try the new ping attribute. Mozilla keeps forcing updates, so I'm assuming this is a current test version.

I misspoke; the icon's in the address bar.

Ideally, any syndication icon should do the same thing in the address bar that it does as a hyperlink.

That's a separate issue than whether this orange blibbet is better than the XML badge, RSS badge, Add to My Yahoo button or the other approaches to indicate feed availability.

Did Dave Winer pay you to say that?

The proper spelling is "blibbot."

In one sense, the blibbet is a step backwards. The RSS-in-a-box was inscrutible, but you at least knew it meant something -- letters are not just put on a page for no reason -- so the motivated could Google it and find out what it meant.

However, the blibbet, with no letters, just seems like a design element of some sort. You don't necessarily understand that it is supposed to have a function.

I predict that the blibbet will prove to be very useful to the cognoscente when quickly scanning pages for the RSS link. But for it to be useful to the tyros out there, page designers will eventually add some sort of textual label next to it, in effect turning it back into the old RSS button.

Mind you, the old RSS button sucks, in my opinion.

One thing I would ask, and I marvel that I need to ask this in 2006 regarding a major software development project (Firefox), but ... was the blibbet subjected to user testing? I fear the answer is No, and that is a little shocking.

Screw user testing. Users are overrated.

User testing as a page content element? Certainly not: Firefox never did or said anything about wanting it in content. As a chrome icon, it works as well and as poorly as any other incomprehensible icon ("ack! there's a padlock in my addressbar, does that mean this page is locked and I can't enter a new address?"). It's a bit better about not setting up mistaken assumptions than the previous Firefox chrome icon, which was "RSS" in a font that looked like "ASS".

The RSS button is just going to look like a wart on the page.

For most browsers, having an icon on the page is as anachronistic as typing "http://www" before a website name in the address bar.

Browsers are going to take care of discovery just like the take care of filling in URL boilerplate. Most browsers already to this, and soon IE will too.

Whats new about this icon? Firefox is unsing that icon in their Urlbar for quite a long time. Setting the "link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" everyone gets displayed that thing.

Does anybody know by chance who designed the first two Microsoft logos? I mean the groovy original one and the blibbet one. I would really appreciate the information. contact me:

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