WizaRSS: a wizard player based on RSS

I had an idea recently that I probably won’t be able to work out, so I’m just gonna throw it here and see if anyone feels like putting the nuts and bolts together.

It’s about step-by-step wizards (i.e. the “Next-Next-Finish” idea). Please follow my thought process:
(a) I’ve made a pretty popular wizard for podcasting with Blogger and Smartcast one year ago;
(b) I also have been following Jon Udell’s efforts with screencasting (and also more on mastuvu.typepad.com) and
(c) I recently have made a project based on photofeeds.

Well now, eventhough I am wary of seeing everything as a nail just because I have the RSS hammer, I think there is a nice synergy possible.

Imagine a generic wizard visualizer. It takes as input an RSS feed and considers each of the RSS items to be a step in the wizard process. It then shows each step in a userfriendly way: either as a kind of slideshow, with “next” and “previous” button, or as a timeline, with zoom-in on a specific step if you click on it, or … All AJAX, CSS and multimedia wizardry is possible. That is purely a presentation-layer issue. Once the wizard content is made, the rest is make-up.

Some examples/remarks:

  • think of a photofeed” wizard: an image is shown for each step, with some HTML text underneath.You could zoom in on the picture. I have made a demo of such a feed on wizarss.blogspot.com and a stub of what such a generic wizard visualizer could look like: WizaRSS stub.
  • think of a “podcast” wizard: for each step, there is an audio clip of 10-60 seconds explaining in simple terms what should be done (with a small Flash MP3 player in the page).
  • think of a “screencast” wizard: for each step the screencast is shown to make things more tangible.
  • another type of visualizer could convert the RSS to a SMIL or ASX multimedia playlist.
  • a good wizard player would have templates, or customizable CSS stylesheets
  • anyone could make a nice wizard with Blogger (and Feedburner SmartCast). Like: recipees, how-to-repair-your-bicycle, bonsai-101, …
  • since RSS is reverse chronological, the last step is listed as most recent, so as the first item in the feed

All feedback is welcome!

Update: Pascal already has a WizaRSS Powerpoint-like S5 presentation player!

Posted in: RSS

4 thoughts on “WizaRSS: a wizard player based on RSS”

  1. Some remarks:

    1) a real wizard does not always work purely sequential: it can have a decision tree where the path is determined by answers to questions.

    2) the internal structure of a ‘wizard page’ is of more importance than the sequential sequence of the pages. RSS itself has a rather limited and fixed structure (link/title/description/category etc), if you need more you have to rely on HTML and CSS inside the description. IMHO for creating wizards you need a specific XML vocabulary rather than the RSS spec

    3) A wizard is not the same thing as a tutorial. WizaRSS is probably better for creating tutorials than for creating wizards.

  2. I forgot to say this only makes sense for wizards that SHOW something – not for wizards that DO something (install software, parse some XML, …), which probably means a better name for them would be a “tutorial”.

    So you’re right, Luc.

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