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HOWTO Disable Firefox 2's Feed Preview

First off I want to say to the Firefox team, great job on Firefox 2.0. It has replaced Camino as my default browser. It's just as fast as far as I can tell and without the icky memory leak that forced me to restart Camino about every two hours. I also greatly appreciate the inline spell-checker, something I have missed greatly since I stopped using Safari as my default browser. Perhaps once Camino 2.0 is released and picks up the same speed and memory improvements I may switch back. I guess it depends on whether or not I get hooked on having the extra extensions.

That having been said, there has been one thing that has irked me with Firefox 2.0, and that's the built-in feed preview feature. It bothers me because it completely overwrites any styling that some people have done to their feeds. In some cases, people have even decided to serve their site as a stylized feed such as FastAVC. On the left you see what Fred Wilson wants his site to look like, and on the right you see what it looks like in Firefox 2.0.

FastAVC Good

FastAVC Bad

Another place this feature gets in the way is with FeedBurner's BrowserFriendly service. This pretties up the look of the feed and adds a box with several subscription options when you view the feed. So if you are using Firefox 2.0 and want to easily subscribe to a feed with Netvibes or Pageflakes you are S.O.L. Or you have to go through a messy process of hacking your Firefox config to get your preferred web reader on the list. The BrowserFriendly service also makes podcast feeds more convenient by creating "Play Now" links for podcast enclosures. Firefox's feed preview does not show when enclosures exist.

Regular Feed w/ BrowserFriendly

Podcast Feed w/ BrowserFriendly

I'm not sure why Firefox doesn't detect when a stylesheet is used with the feed and then turn off the preview automatically to let the stylesheet show through like they do with the ordinary XML pretty-printing feature. Also, no where is there an option to turn off the feed preview feature altogether. This is only version 2.0 so perhaps version 2.0.1 or higher will correct these inadequacies. In the meantime, I have come up with a work-around to disable the feed preview feature of Firefox. To disable it, you just need to change one line of the FeedConverter.js file in the components directory within the Firefox application directory. On a Windows this file is usually located at C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\components\FeedConverter.js and on Mac OS X you should find it at /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/components/FeedConverter.js. To get to that directory on a Mac, right-click on the Firefox application icon in Finder and choose "Show Package Contents". Once you have found the file, open it in an ordinary text editor. Scroll down to about line 187 (about 1/3rd down the file) and look for this block of code:

      var chromeChannel;
      if (result.doc) {
        // If there was no automatic handler, or this was a podcast,
        // photostream or some other kind of application, we must always
        // show the preview page...

        // Store the result in the result service so that the display page can 
        // access it.
        // Now load the actual XUL document.
        var chromeURI = ios.newURI(FEEDHANDLER_URI, null, null);
        chromeChannel = ios.newChannelFromURI(chromeURI, null);
        chromeChannel.originalURI = result.uri;
        chromeChannel = ios.newChannelFromURI(result.uri, null);

      chromeChannel.asyncOpen(this._listener, null);
You just need to change the "if" line to read:
      if (0) {
Then restart Firefox and you should be all set.


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Good stuff, I was actually looking for this, but found out how to hack Firefox to add NewsGator. It's a shame that there isn't an option to switch the feed preview on/off. Like you said, hopefully in the next version.

Oh, and thanks for linking to my post. I'm going to add this post to mine. :)

Great fix, Paul. We've gotta post this over on the FeedBurner forums.

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