I started off exploring the world of RSS through a web app called bloglines along with countless other tech gurus. Eventually the UI got to me, and I felt like I needed something a bit more flexible and responsive. Then the tagging abilities of rojo really got my attention, so I switched over. The process was smooth and one that resulted in an overall increase in my RSS reading. Rojo then fell short because of some issues I was having with firefox. I was operating with 20 or 30 tabs open, and rojo seemed to really slow things down even more. What I needed was a desktop application that would operate independently of my browser.
To start, I wanted to lay out my needs:
- I'm not using this for very comlex functionality. Just trying to keep up with 50 or so feeds.
- I Don't like the Article View being separate from Article List. Maybe I'm biased from starting with bloglines, but I just want a long list of the articles in a particular feed. Some places called this view a "Unified" view, so I'm going to stick with that word.
- I do want to be able to access password protected RSS feeds
Here are the apps I tried, starting with my least favorite:
Slickest looking of all the apps I tried. It had a Pop-up notification that streamed the feeds to you as they downloaded. I found this very eye catching, and I used it a lot, but in the end it was essentially just interupting and keeping me from doing my work.
Navigation was confusing and uneccesarily complicated, there were seperate windows for:
- Subscriptions -Should you need a second subscription manager to organize them? Most rss feeds are coherent enough to do this from the main view. I'd like to hear more on how this was supposed to be used.
Within a group (essentially a folder), I never found a way to easily get from one rss feed to the next . Navigation through the article list for one feed was ok.
This RSS reader had a "unified" view, and it also had a feature called "flagging", which allows you to flag headlines containing certain words. I would really have liked to test this feature out a bit more. Overall this app almost met my needs, but I never held my attention. The UI was not quite the simple bloglines style list that I was hoping for, so I had to pass.
Though it did not have a way to display a long column of full posts, it has a way to skip from Ã¢â‚¬Å“full postÃ¢â‚¬Â to Ã¢â‚¬Å“full postÃ¢â‚¬Â through one handed space-bar navigation. The UI was simple, and seemed pretty snappy enough for me to place it above NewsMacPro.
One problem, was that I could never find the help.
I immediatly noticed that Net News Wire had the view that I wanted. Everything just worked, and it "felt" good. I loaded quite a few feeds and the app responded well.
The downside is that this app costs more than all the others (around $30). Though it seemed to have everything I was looking for, I just couldn't justify the cost. Maybe had I been looking for more features, I would have found all the value I needed.
One interesting dimension to this particular app was that it the ability to sync with an online new reader (Gator?). I was never a fan of that particular web based reader, so if you are this might be the app for you. I would have really been interested if there was a two way sync with Bloglines. My goal is to eventually be able to access the feeds that are on my desktop app through the web-based mobile bloglines reader, using my Treo 650.
Here comes the opensource solution. I have this placed as my "favorite" but in reality it probably ties with NetNewsWire.
Vienna was extremely simple, and allowed me to load my feeds as easily as any of the other services. Version 2.0 did not have the view that i was looking for, but after some searching I found this review highlight the "unified" view I was looking for. In the Preview version 2.1 the Vienna reader offers a unified view and few other enhancements that make it look very promising. Unforunitely, there was no clear winner, so I guess i'm going to have to wait for the next round.
Heres another review of Vienna version 2.1. There were some useful comments on the post.