Yesterday Dann Sheridan shipped something very cool for Radio — a way to do dynamic browser-based dashboards that link into the core of Radio's XML engine. There isn't a lot of software in Dann's release, but it's still a breakthrough. Talking with John Robb on Friday I asked if this wasn't just a gimmick. Before I finished asking the question I realized that it wasn't, any more than the features we put into Radio that make it easy for first-timers to ignore the engine and focus on the interface that Steve Gillmor calls “placid” were gimmicks. At UserLand we call those John Robb Features, things the engineers wouldn't think of because we're too accustomed to crawling around in the complexity of the environment. Dann is a Radio newbie, at a programming level, and he's given us a key John Robb Feature for the future. Yes for some people refreshing the page is too much to expect. A readout that refreshes on its own lowers the barrier one more inch, letting even more people in. And it's a feature an engineer could learn to love too. Imagine a log, displaying on the machine next to you, and to find out what's going on there you just have to look at the machine — you don't have to find the mouse, find the Refresh icon, click it and wait. Steps saved even for those in the know are still steps saved. [Scripting News]

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