Information on a new release of Pull

12 May 2011

Pull 2011 Release 3: out now!

Pull, is a popular podcatcher that I develop in my free time and it has been a LONG time (78 days in fact) since the last release. What is new and why did it take so long?

Release 2, the most popular release so far was great but also one of the buggiest releases we ever released – no show stoppers just some weird issues. So the delay was to go back and fix, fix, fix and fix some more. LOADS of bugs were killed off and I’ve been running release 3 for a little while and it is solid. I’m very happy with this release.

In between that the bug fixes we got some great new features in.

Forced Refresh Option

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Next to the Refresh All Podcasts button is a Force Refresh All Podcasts option, which is brand new. The first one refreshes but does a bunch of checks to increase speed & minimize bandwidth, which is great but sometimes you need to force a refresh cause the server is flaky, well the new button does that.

New Web Browser

imageI have not been happy with the browser option ever, for a long time if you clicked a link in it it would reuse the browser window and that was a poor browser experience. Then we tried to fix that and pop ups could jump out of Pull with no clicks Sad smile Also it used 40Mb of memory too – it was VERY expensive.

I finally got a decent HTML parser in there as a replacement so it provides a nice clean option and links open in your browser. Popups do not get annoying and memory usage is great Smile

Welcome back to Single Folders

The metrics showed me that very few users used the single folder option (i.e. all downloaded files in a single folder) and I removed it to fix up a bunch of other scenarios. Well, those few users were vocal and told me how wrong I was and why that was a killer feature for them. So I could not do anything but get it back in!

Error Reporting Improved

To help with bugs that will pop up (cause bugs are always hiding) we have a shiny new error reporting dialog system which sends all the info we need to fix it and allows you to put in your email address, and more details if you press Add Details.

Looking forward to getting lots of good feedback with this Smile

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So go ahead, enjoy your podcasts and PLEASE share your experiences with us on the website!

Statistics

20 Jan 2011

Pull: January 2011 release

2011 has started off well with the new release of Pull! This release is a major update release where the focus was on improving the experience on the front end.

Ribbon

imageYou either love it or you hate the ribbon, but there is no doubt that using it makes you more productive and we have moved to that with this release.

There has been discussion moving the Episodes ribbon around, so this may change. Please join that or post issues if you have any other items you want to change please see the Issue Tracker.

Cover Flow

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We now show podcasts using cover flow, which also means we now try to pull down the podcast art! This makes it much nicer to expose and move around podcasts!

However maybe you do not like this, check out the toolbar options:

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  1. Show one podcast as a time
  2. Rather than the cool carousal flow, stack the podcasts next to each other.
  3. Same as 2, but vertical stacking.
  4. Stack across first and then stack vertically.
  5. Stack vertically and then stack horizontally.
  6. Carousal mode (default)

And you can use the wrench to customize the cards and change what is shown. Doing that I removed the image and status icon and shrunk the size:

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And when you want to go back – you can use the reset views button in the settings.

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Powerful Grids

Bimageoth the episode and download queue grid are greatly enhanced.

  1. Changes made now persist!
  2. You can re-order and resize columns.
  3. There is full filtering support on them!
  4. At the bottom is a total bar which you can turn on/off or change what is shown (try right click!).

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Twitter

imageTwitter support got a major overhaul so the issues discussed previously are gone! Something you may want to check out though is the little arrow below the button which lets you specify your http://bit.ly username and password!

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Export

You can now export to .xlsx (Excel 2007/2010) and .html in addition to .csv!

Coming up next?

Being a fairly major release there is some spit and polish we want to focus on for the next release and adding some smaller features!

08 Dec 2010

Pull December 2010 Release

Another month, another Pull release Open-mouthed smile This month is not a very feature rich release, but includes some vital features and new ideas:

New Parsing Engine

Internally in Pull, we have added a new parsing engine which now handles feeds which are broken. The scenarios we are catering for:

  • Putting incorrectly encoded content in the description. Ted Talks I’m looking at you.
  • Using DTD’s with the feed. Let’s Talk Geek podcast used to break because of this.
  • Incorrect date and time formats.  702 podcast are an example of this.

What this means to you as a consumer of podcasts, is that more are podcasts available for you to subscribe to now!

Battery Support

imageIf you are on batteries (i.e. laptops not plugged in) downloading can put a big strain on the batteries, so we now have a way to prevent downloads while on batteries. This can be controlled in the settings dialog.

Online Detection

There is no point even trying to download if you are not online (waste of CPU, memory, batteries etc…), so we now ask Windows if you are online and then only if download if you are online. This too can be controlled in the settings dialog for scenarios where you are online but Windows is unable to detect it.

Better Hardware Use

We optimise how many downloads you can do based on the number of CPU cores available, this ensures we download optimally based on the limits of the CPU. This can be adjusted in the settings.

Sync Support

imageWe new have a very basic sync system in Pull, which allows you to easy sync your devices with your downloaded episodes. This is intentionally basic for this release as we try to understand the needs and wants of people who use this. Please provide feedback on this feature.

Twitter Support

Another new feature is a one click way to share using Twitter what podcasts and episodes you are listening to! This is very basic too in this release and can break in some situations. We will be working on this and it will be enhanced in the January release.

Minor Features

  • Improvements to the UI and theming
  • Better last resort crash support

Looking Forward

For the January release we will be implementing some major new features:

  • Grid overhaul – we make use of grids to list your podcasts, episodes, downloads and the log. In January we will be giving them a major overhaul and give you the ability to have filtering and searching, persistent customisations and performance improvements.
  • UI Enhancements – Really working hard on making the UI easier to understand while giving power users more control.
  • Twitter – Better support for Twitter, including using bit.ly for shortening.

Little taste of the current development progress:

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10 Nov 2010

Pull - November 2010 Release

The third stable release for Pull, the simplest podcast downloader in the world. This release has less front end features than the October 2010 release, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a lot of work done under the skin to make this the best release ever.

Major Features in this Release

Download System Re-Done

I’ve said it many times but a podcast tool is really just a download tool that knows how to parse RSS & ATOM. Which means that it should do those two things fantastically. In this release the download system was completely rewritten from scratch to incorporate many new features and to improve the performance.

In the last release we supported cancelling a download but now we can also pause a download, this becomes even more important with another new feature where you can limit the number of concurrent downloads. Add to this the third feature in the trifecta of download management: speed limiting – you now have FULL control of your bandwidth, performance of downloads and how and when you want to download.

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The other major feature introduced into downloads was to introduce a number of checks about the download prior to the download to see if the download is needed. For the technical people out there, this is done by doing a HEAD request and checking the etag and last-modified date. What this means is that in the October release you would do about 10Kb to refresh a podcast, regardless if it changed. Now we can tell in less than 200 bytes and only pull that 10Kb if it has actually changed.

Ability to not automatically download episodes

Previously if you subscribed to podcast, you were at the mercy of the podcasters because when they published a new episode you downloaded it. Now in Pull, you can disable that so that the podcast will still update but new episodes will not automatically download.

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BTW this came directly from the community via the discussions, so if you want a feature – LET US KNOW!

Minor Features in this Release

New Version Checking

A feature you won’t see until December is a little text block that appears when a new version of Pull is made available. It will appear next to the Give Feedback link: image

Shutdown Confirm Options

In the settings you can now control the close confirm prompt, so you can set it to Always Confirm (as it has done previously), confirm if there is an active episode download or never confirm.

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Back story, Rudi Grobler who is my unofficial product owner originally asked for the confirm during the beta because he kept killing it by mistake. During the last sprint, guess who was complaining about it always asking Winking smile 

Refresh Individual Podcast

You can now easily right click on a podcast (or multiple podcasts) and say Refresh selected podcasts to manually refresh ONLY the selected ones.

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Future

December is the plan for the next release and in the plan (plan = no promise) for it is the ability to fix broken feeds. I’ve seen many feeds that are broken because the authors are doing something wrong. However Pull becomes the bad guy because it can’t deal with it so there will be a fix up engine to try and deal with those.

I am also thinking of syncing to device support, likely this will be BASIC – folder/drive style.

I also want Pull to be a better Windows citizen by working better with the OS via adding a manifest so Windows knows what to expect, better support for running on batteries, better support for Windows Error Reporting, and better understanding of how many CPUs your machine has and what the optimal settings for downloads are based on that.

15 Oct 2010

Pull - October 2010 Release

I’m happy to share my second stable release of Pull, the simplest podcast/vidcast download tool, in the world, this release has had a ton of new work done to it to get it more usable and some plumbing work to improve it. 

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Major features in this release

Full Proxy Support

Proxies are either really easy to use or completely destroy your application. Previously Pull used what ever Internet Explorer specified, now you can tell it there is no proxy, in case your IE proxy settings are different for some reason, or provide proxy settings. This should help people use it in a variety of environments.

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Add multiple podcasts at once

Want to subscribe to multiple podcasts? Just use the new add dialog box to add them.

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Automatic backup of feeds to OPML

Have a database? Then you better have a backup. These are rules for all software and Pull does the same now by automatically backing up your feeds to an OPML file, just in case Smile

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New jumplist options

Right click on the Pull icon in Windows 7 and you will get the jumplist which contains two new options – Play next unplayed episode and Force refresh of podcasts.

Since putting in the play un-played I’ve used it a ton as it allows me to keep playing podcasts quickly. When one podcast finishes, it is two clicks to get the next one started, without having to switch to the application to do it!

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Ability to automatically download latest episode when subscribing to a podcast

When you subscribe to a podcast, you likely want the latest episode and so we now have an options to enable that. Options are available on both the new podcast dialog box (see above) and also if you are adding via protocol handlers or OPML.

For those last two you can turn it off in the settings:

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Ability to cancel downloads

Right click on a download in the download pane and you will be able to cancel a download!

Locking

Often I have a podcast I want to keep forever, now you can right click on a podcast and select lock which adds a little lock icon next to it. Repeat the process to unlock.

This prevents the file from being deleted and from a clean-up perspective this means you can now select all played episodes and hit delete and it will ignore the locked items.

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Ability to prevent Windows from going to sleep during downloads

In settings you can control if you have an active download is the computer allowed to go to sleep.

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Ability to selectively import or export podcasts from OPML file

Want to export your podcast, except that one which will make your mother blush? Or maybe your friend gave you an OPML file you want to import but you don’t want all his podcasts. You can now select individual podcasts and export and import selectively.

Delete to recycle bin

When you delete a podcast, it now goes to the recycle bin and not into the ether. This also means you can hit retry now if the delete fails for any reason.

Scan for Episodes

Another new small feature lets you scan an existing folder for episodes you have already downloaded in Pull or other application. This was added to help people migrate to Pull and quickly associate their existing episodes, but if you want to re-associate a deleted episode this works great for that too!

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Welcome wizard to make getting up and running easy

Pull used to only need two settings from you and so when you started it for the first time it showed you the settings dialog to get those settings. However this release added a number of settings and to not scare off a new user with a million settings we get now start with a simple welcome wizard which asks for the two we really need and makes the user feel at home in the application.

Future

I am planning another release for about a month away and I want to add some more download management features in it but if you have any ideas drop me a line or leave a message in the Pull discussions forum.