Common Feeds List ain’t workin’

Common Feeds List ain’t workin’

Here’s what the Outlook 2007 help says about sharing an RSS Feeds list (i.e., your blog subscriptions) between Windows Internet Explorer and Outlook:

When you use Windows Internet Explorer 7 and Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, you can view and maintain the same RSS Feeds subscriptions list in either program. You accomplish this by sharing one RSS Feeds subscription list via the Common Feeds List in Microsoft Windows.

The Common Feed List is used by programs such as Office Outlook 2007 and Internet Explorer 7 as a common location for RSS Feeds information. When you add an RSS Feed to any program that uses the Common Feeds List, that RSS Feed is available in all programs automatically. Likewise, if you delete an RSS Feed, it is removed from all programs.

Maybe that’s true in theory, but it wasn’t happening for me. First, I checked that the RSS feeds are supposed to be in synch. This is in the Outlook options. Note the penultimate checkbox.

Now take a look at the list of RSS feeds shown in IE7 (if your blog’s not listed here and you think it should me, let me know.)

Finally, take a look at the list of blogs that Outlook says I’m subscribed to, from Tools, Account Settings … (unfortunately I can’t re-size this window to show the entire list, but it’s enough to make the point).

You can see there are a few items missing. According to Outlook, I’m not subscribed to E-Bitz, BostonPocketPC, Disaster Recovery for IT, Microsoft Small Business Center, Most Recent KBs, and a few others that you can’t see from this screen shot. And yet, take a look at the display from within Outlook’s folder list.

See, at one time there was a close match between the IE7 and Outlook feeds, but not any more. What’s really irritating is that, as far as I can tell, there’s no way to look at the properties of a feed from within the Outlook folder list to see which of your feeds are still active subscriptions. Here I was, thinking that some of these blogs just didn’t have any new posts, when in fact my subscription had simply stopped. It looks like you have to go into the list of accounts to see what’s current in Outlook.

I thought it might be a good idea to try synching the feeds by exporting from IE7 and importing into Outlook. When I did that, I was told that they would stay synched from now on:

Unfortunately, it turns out that Outlook is not smart enough to merge your existing folders with feeds of the same name that are being imported. So now I’ve got two folders for all the blogs whose subscriptions had ceased:

And my read / unread history is all messed up.

As I was assessing the import damage, I discovered that Outlook does know the difference between a live and dead feed. If you try to delete the folder of a dead feed, you get this:

Whereas if you try to delete the folder of a live feed, you get this:

So I had to go through all the folders one by one to prune the list, making sure NOT to delete the live ones. Now I’m up to date, but in the process I lost all but the most recent twelve posts from the feeds I had to re-import. In theory I could copy the older posts back from my deleted items into the resurrected folders, but I’m afraid that if I do that, I might end up right back where I started.

Ah, well. C’est la feed.

Posted in All, IE7, Office 2007, Software, Technology on Feb 2nd, 2007, 9:52 pm by David Schrag   

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