Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, March 24, 2006

Embedded Micro Browsers Offer Enhanced Navigation Within Web Pages

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"Micro, web-page embedded browsers, open up new possibilities for navigating and finding additional relevant content with great ease of use and while never leaving the original page."

Imagine a micro browser, embedded in your web site home page, which allows your readers to navigate your blogroll down to view the actual sources, or to search on your site without ever loosing sight of the larger page.

Imagine that no software needs to be installed and that you can further customize this embedded, micro browser into your web site look and feel.

The final result is a content access point which greatly expands the readers options, and while providing greater flexibility and comfort in accessing additional content in an easy and effective way it never pushes the reader to leave the page in which she landed.


Grazr is a web-based service which allows you to create an embeddable RSS / OPML-reader-browser that can be integrated into any standard web page. Once fed with the URL of any RSS or OPML file (which must be accessible online), Grazr automatically generates a snippet of code that can be inserted in any web page with the following result.

An OPML file is basically an XML file containing a list of items. In this case the OPML file contains a list of interesting feeds under different thematic categories.

Grazr, which is still in Beta, provides the end user also with the ability to customize the look and feel of the OPML micro browser that will be embedded on your web page. Among the controls available for now are the micro browser width, height as well as the font face and size for the content items to be displayed inside the embedded browser.


A handy "preview" button allows immediate testing and verification of any changes to those settings.

Here is embedded in the page a Grazr micro browser being fed with a demonstration OPML file, which contains multiple small collections of RSS feeds / content sources. Click on the individual titles to navigate deeper and click on the left side vertical margin to navigate back up:

(you may need to use Firefox to view the mini-browser window above fully functioning)

Here instead, I am using Grazr to display an integrated micro browser with my latest news RSS feed. (This is a screenshot and you can't click it through, but if you would like to see what it Grazr would look like once fed with a single RSS feed, go to the Grazr Configurator page and input this "" or any other RSS feed.

A few issues to be aware of:
Grazr currently only supports one web panel per web page / blog and has a few problems with content management systems like Wordpress which reformat text for display. This can cause problems with the JavaScript include, especially with escaped 'fancy' quotes being substituted for standard quotes.

Try it now:


The Bitty browser defines itself as the web equivalent of a "picture in picture", the digital effect offered by many a camcorder or TV display and which allows the viewing in a smaller window of another image or program, while the main one is displayed in the larger screen area.

"Bitty is the little browser that goes on any Web page, it's like Picture-in-Picture for the Web", the author of Bitty wrote on its home page.

With Bitty you can create a navigable blogroll as well as fully functioning mini-browser capable of its standard key functions like searching and bookmarking. Not only. Bitty provides the ability to embed new content into any web site by syndicating in its micro browser display area content being fed by external Web sites/services, RSS feeds, podcasts, and OPML files.

The integrated search facility allows easy access to a pre-selected number of major search engines and key reference sources like Wikipedia, Google News, Flickr, delicious, Technorati and many others.


Differently than Grazr and other OPML browsers Bitty allows you to navigate to any standard web page or RSS fed by simply inputting the URL in its standard address bar. Bitty can be asked to "float" on the page, so that it can be resized, dragged ad positioned anywhere you like. Bitty is in fact a full web browser than can display HTML web pages as well as RSS and OPML files.

But the most interesting thing, is that Bitty's flexibility doesn't end here. A set of very simple input forms allows anyone to set-up Bitty for many specific purposes like the display of a certain delicious feed, a Flickr or a Technorati tag.

By going directly to the Bitty browser content setup page you can select how to Bitty-package content from Digg, delicious, Icerocket, Google News, Technorati, Bloglines or from any web page URL, RSS feed, OPML file or podcast for which you have a specific URL.

Here is one of my delicious feeds about Collaboration Tools packaged into the Bitty browser:

As you may have noticed, a great, immensely useful feature is the optional link appearing under each information link inside this micro browser and offering the option to open the link in a full browser window or inside a Bitty-sized page. Excellent.


The Bitty mini-browser can also be easily integrated into Google Personalized Home Page, into your customized Microsoft Live page and into Pageflakes.

The Bitty browser also sports an integrated smart support menu which provides access to all help and settings information.


As a business model, the Bitty browser serves text-only contextual ads at the bottom of some of the contents pages displayed.

I must say that I am truly impressed by the number of potential useful applications that these type of tools can open. And while I had been having a hard time in the past trying to make sense of the true benefits of OPML editors, it is so evident now that I feel really stupid for not having had the opportunity to see a tool like this at work before. One thing is to talk or read about OPML outlines and their potential, one other to see them at work like in the above outstanding instances.

Both these tools are rather simple and easy to use, nonetheless their present interface and documentation keeps them accessible only to a restricted elite of power users and geeks. Non technical users may indeed have a bit of hard time understanding how to operate each tool the first time around, but with a little bit of experimentation and testing anyone should really be able to put these tools to good work.

Greater ability to customize the display interface, with the added option of branding it is going to be the killer feature to ignite wide adoption by bloggers and small independent publishers.

Expect to see the birth of a marketplace for Reading Lists, OPML files and pre-packaged content widgets created with these and similar tools, which small publishers will be able to syndicate on their web sites under different and complementary business models (sponsorship, free with contextual ads, paid with no ads, etc.)

Leveraging the power of OPML outlines, these new micro, embedded browsers open up an infinite number of useful applications, which can greatly enhance user experience and content navigation across blogs, news and entertainment sites.

More info:
More ways to make your mini OPML browser useful.

All about OPML. (Wikipedia)

OPML editors.

How to create an OPML file with the minimum effort?

More OPML browsers

Want to let other people know what are you reading by publishing your OPML file?

Readers' Comments    
2006-03-28 16:50:05


We would like to introduce you to our Megite: What's happening right now service. It is the newspaper for anyone interested in what's happening right now by intelligently uncovering the most relevant items from auto discovered news sites and weblogs.

If you have an OPML file and don't mind to send to us, we can create a personalized Megite for you too.

You can check our web site at

posted by Robin Good on Friday, March 24 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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