Thursday, October 25, 2007

Folders with spaces buggy in Google Reader

Update Nov 1, 2007 - This issue has now fixed by the Google Reader team. Thank you guys!

Don't use spaces in the name of your folders in Google Reader. If you do, those folders will always show up as empty in the mobile version of Google Reader. It's one of those bugs which is easy to get around to once you know about it.

And on the topic of Google Reader folders, have you noticed how those are called tags in the mobile interface? Gmail calls those labels. Google seems utterly confused and doesn't know of something should be called a folder, a tag, or a label. Google, let me tell you, for everyone out there:

  • Those are called tags if an item can be associated with more than one tag. Because in real life, you can put multiple tags on an item.
  • Those are called folders if an item can be in at most one folder. Because in real life, you can't file a document in more than one folder at a time (if you don't take hierarchies into account).


Mihai Parparita said...

We used to have a bug with spaces in tag/folder names in the mobile UI, but I believe it was fixed a week or two ago. Is this still a problem? Can you give more details like which (mobile) browser you are using?

As for the naming, they are generally "tags", since items and subscriptions can have multiple tags. However, when applied to subscriptions, they can also be referred to as "folders", since that concept is more easily understood by non-technical people.

As for Gmail referring to them as "labels," my (unofficial) understanding is that Gmail was released in early 2004 (and designed even earlier), before the rest of the Web had settled on terminology.

Mihai Parparita
Google Reader Engineer

Alessandro Vernet said...


First thank you for responding. Very much appreciated.

Yes, the "space in tag/folder name" issue is now indeed solved in the Reader's mobile interface.

As far as tag vs. folder is concerned, I realize that most people are likely to be more familiar with the concept of folder, but calling something a folder when it it does not behave like a folder will be even more confusing.

Consider the case of Gmail "labels". In the web interface, assigning a new label is additive; the message keeps the original label(s) and the new label is added. In the IMAP interface, since IMAP really has "folders", moving a message from one folder to another one, removes the first label and assigns a new one. This is the right thing to do for folders.

What I am trying to say is that the "right" term to use depends on how the UI behaves. And in the case of Google Reader, the UI behaves as if those were tags, not folders.

And depending where you look at in the Google Reader interface, you will see the term folder or tags, which I find utterly confusing :).