Multi-threaded NewsWatcher



Spell check your posts! MT-NewsWatcher can use the Word Services Apple Events suite to check the spelling of messages that you post. This is essentially a mechanism that enables a spell checker application to communicate with NewsWatcher in order to check the spelling of text in a message window. More information about the Words Services Apple Events suite is available at:

To use the Words Services suite, you will need a Words Services server application; available ones are listed at the site above. You may wish to get the Spellswell demo to give this a try:

A commercial, but cheap, version of Spellswell is available from Working Software:

Once you have the server application (e.g. Spellswell) installed, you need to tell MT-NewsWatcher that this service is available. Go to the Preferences dialog, and navigate to the 'Word Services' panel. Click the 'Add' button. In the resulting open file dialog box, find and select the Spellswell application (or other WS server software), and click OK. Now, there should be a 'Check spelling' item at the bottom of the Edit menu. This item is enabled when a window in which you are composing a message is foremost; simply choose 'Check spelling' to have Spellswell check the spelling of your message text. The corrected text will then be pasted back into the window.


Marking cross-posts read Some articles are posted to more than one group; such articles are terms 'cross-posted', and information about which groups they are posted to appears in the Xref header.

When you read such an article, you usually don't want to see it in the other groups once you've read it. In this case, MT-NewsWatcher can mark the article as read in all groups in which it occurs. You can turn this option on in the "Newsreading options" panel of the Preferences dialog.

You can also control whether filters that kill an article in one group also kill that article in other groups. This is enabled via the 'Filtering kills crossposts" checkbox in the "Filtering options" panel of the Preferences.

of user group files
MT-NewsWatcher can automatically open user group files in the folder which is specified in the 'Saved user groups' Preferences panel. Check the 'Auto open user group in this folder' button in this Preferences panel to have your group lists open automatically when MT-NewsWatcher starts up.
MIME binaries
MT-NewsWatcher, like YA- but not the original NewsWatcher, can decode Base-64 encoded MIME attachments. You simply need to specify a helper app to do the decoding in the 'Extracting binaries' preferences panel; see the section on Helper Applications for details of how to get one of these.
X-Face headers MT-NewsWatcher can display X-Face headers when these are detected in articles. X-Face headers are a way of encoding a 48x48 bitmap image in a string of ASCII text, and are used to display a picture of the poster, their institution logo or some other small image.

This image shows how X-Face images are displayed in article windows. A tool for creating and viewing X-Face headers on the Macintosh called Saving Face is available from this page.

Sorting Articles By default, articles are sorted according to their article number, a unique number that the news server assigns to each article. These are chronological with respect to the time that the server received the article, which does not necessarily correspond with the actual time that an article was posted onto the Usenet system.

MT-NewsWatcher can sort articles by author name, subject, line count, date and priority (based on filters); you specify the default ordering the the 'Subject windows' Preferences panel. Of course, you can only sort by headers that you have specified to download, so don't expect to be able to sort by date if you are not showing the date in subject windows. You can also tell MT-NewsWatcher to sort in reverse order, which sorts long articles, or those with more recent dates to the top.

The sorting interface is meant to be as similar to the Finder as possible. You can click on column names to resort, and the active short is indicated by an underlining of the column name. So, to resort a list of articles on the fly, click in the column headers:

so to sort by author, click in the area shown. To sort in reverse, hold down the option key when clicking.

The non-obvious items on the left of the top panel are used, respectively, to set the sort order, to sort by article number (the '#' symbol), and by filtered score (the 'S').

Resizing columns To resize a column in the subject window, simply click on the dividing bar between the column titles, and drag it. The rightmost column (lines, or dates) is 'stuck' to the right hand side of the window, so resizing the window will more this column to show more, or less of the subjects. You cannot move the divider in front of the Authors column.

The column widths are saved back to the preferences when you close a window, so to set your global defaults, ensure that you have only one subject window open, set the column widths to your liking, and then close the window.

Reading digests Digests are postings that consist of a number of smaller message, concatenated together. The 'Info-Mac Digest' in comp.sys.mac.digest is one example. Normally, you use the spacebar key to mean 'Next chunk', so it shows another screenfull of text or the next article. In a digest, it will take you to the next message in the digest by searching for the next line starting with "Subject :". This is useful to quickly scan through the articles. It does not require any special preferences settings to work.
Kaleidoscope colors If you have Kaleidoscope installed, you can have MT-NewsWatcher use its colors for windows and panels. This can look really cool:

Note that not only is Kaleidoscope customizing the window borders, but that MT-NW is using the correct colors for the panels and text within the windows, like in the Finder. To enable this effect, check the 'Use Kaleidoscope colors' checkbox in the 'Miscellaneous options' preferences panel.

Other options Miscellaneous other options added to MT-NewsWatcher are described below.
Better binary parts checking

Normally, NewsWatcher interprets any post with a "M/N" in the subject (where M and N are whole numbers) as part of a binary posting, and shows the '<' symbol beside the article to indicate that it is an incomplete thread.

This can get annoying, especially in computing groups where machines are described as a 7600/12 quite often. Thus, there is an option to check binary parts more rigorously, requiring that they be enclosed in brackets (for example (12/24) or [12/24]), or that they are preceded by the word 'part'.

To enable this more rigorous parts testing, check the checkbox entitled 'More rigorous binary parts checking' in the 'Extracting binaries' preferences panel.

Coloring article text

You can set the colors used for article and quoted text in the 'Article window' panel in preferences. Here, lines that start with a '>' are assumed to be quoted text, and are so colored. You can specify which characters you wish to be considered as quote characters in that preferences panel, as well as setting the colors used to hilight URLs in the text.

All colored URLs can be command-clicked to open them. Here, the pale blue URLs are message IDs, so command-clicking them will open the article to which they refer. The red URLs are email addresses, and the dark blue is a web address.

Changing the quote character

Some news servers are set up to refuse the posting of articles that contain more quoted than non-quoted text, which can be really annoying when you want to post a short reply to another, longer message, and keep a large amount of quoted material. One work around is to permanently change you quote string from the default '> ' in the preferences. Unfortunately this can confuse the text coloring method described above.

To make it easier to change quote characters on just those messages where it is necessary, MT-NewsWatcher enables you to replace one quote string with another in message windows. Click the disclosure triangle to show details, and you'll see these controls:

To change the quote string, simply type a new one into the 'Quote string' box, and click the 'Change' button (or hit the return key). This will search through the message for lines starting with the string you just replaced, and replace all occurrences with the new quote string. This new string is not saved back to preferences.

Type-ahead in group lists

In group lists or the full groups list, you can start typing a group name to have MT-NewsWatcher find, and hilite the closest match. This requires that you have 'Main keyboard shortcuts' disabled in the preferences, otherwise these keystrokes would be interpreted as commands.

Type-ahead in the full groups list has been optimized to make group selection very easy -- groups categories will expand when selected by typing, so you can then type the next part of the name. So to select a group, just type it like: "comp" "sys" "mac" "apps" with a short pause between each part.

Default signature behaviour

To specify whether you want your signature appended to messages by default, go the the 'Signature' preferences panel and check the 'Append signature to messages' button. This specifies the default behaviour; you can always override this in individual message windows when you post or mail.


Interface wisdom I've made a big effort to make MT-NewsWatcher the best-looking, and most enjoyable to use newsreader on the Macintosh. Here, I explain some of the interface features that make it so.
Full groups list MT-NewsWatcher has a hierarchical full groups list, a natural ordering for this hierarchical group structure. This does not impinge upon usability, however. Searches automatically expand headers to show the found group, and dragging from the full groups list into group windows, or the filters list, intelligently interpret the contents of the drag based on whether a heading was dragged, and whether it was expanded or collapsed.

Preferences panel I've reworked the Preferences panel, to try to make this plethora of different options easier to navigate. The addition of an icon-based list on the left hand side has the advantage of showing that other panels exist, and the icons hint at the topic related to by their contents.

This dialog box is also almost entirely keyboard-navigable, and has extensive balloon help.

Progress bars Where possible, long processes in MT-NewsWatcher show a progress bar which gives some indication of how long the process will take, and provides a button for cancelling that process.

Because the the way that information is transferred from the news server, it is not always possible to provide a reliable indicator of progress when fetching article headers. When extracting binaries, however, the progress indication is very accurate as long as you have set preferences to get article line counts.

I have chosen this WDEF, with the title bar down the side, to save space on screen. This is also the reason to use a window type which is normally used for floating windows. Under System 7.5, the title bar of the window does not indicate whether it is hilited (foremost) or not. However, if you install Aaron or Kaleidoscope, the appearance changes properly to indicate the window's status.

Window panels If used well, elements of Apple's Grayscale Appearance can significantly improve the usability of a program. They direct the users attentiont towards the information-containing parts of the window, and separate 'content' from 'structure' in a non-invasive way. One role they should play is to attract the user's attention to the active, foremost window, and few applications do this well. MT-NewsWatcher mimics the behaviour of an Aaronified Finder, in flattening the 3D panel, and greying out the heading text and controls of background windows:


Using with other NewsWatchers As from version 2.2.0, MT-NewsWatcher stores its preferences in its own PREF resource, having copied your previous settings from the standard NewsWatcher's resource if one exists. Thereafter, MT-NW does not touch the old NW preferences resource, so any changes you make to MT-NW settings will not be reflected in other NewsWatchers that you run (except those settings stored by Internet Config).

If you are running MT-NW and no NewsWatcher preferences file exists, it will create one for you, and store its own resource, while creating a minimal standard NewsWatcher prefs resource. The purpose of this minimal standard resource is to keep NewsWatcher, and YA-NewsWatcher happy when they open this prefs file.


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