Monday, 27 July 2009, 13:27:06 EDT

Once Safari gained RSS feed support I stopped memorizing my daily sites and started letting them come to me. Safari did three things that made me finally switch to using feeds:

  1. It supported grouping feeds into categories.

  2. It placed the categories in a bar between the URL bar and the document view port.

  3. It added the number of unread articles to the category labels.

This was a significant improvement over Firefox's implementation (which is still poor). Safari's RSS support suited me for quite some time. I liked that I didn't have to run a separate program to track feeds. I spend a majority of my computing time using a web browser, so having the RSS client built into my web browser (in a useful way) was really handy. However, a few months ago I outgrew the limited ability of Safari's RSS client feature. I had too many categories, and too many feed subsriptions, for them to all fit in the RSS bar. So I searched for a stand-alone RSS client.

I settled on using Vienna. I wanted something comparable to NetNewsWire, which was shareware at the time, but free. Vienna fit the bill, and I used it until last week.

I don't bring my laptop with me to work since I don't have much time to use it. So, over the past month and a half I had been going home to find several hundered unread articles awaiting me in Vienna. It was like a chore to sift through them after a long day at work. Something needed to be done. I didn't want to bring my laptop with me to work every day, and I wanted to keep my read/unread articles synced between machines. Last week it suddenly ocurred to me that I could use a web based RSS client.

Now that I had a solution I needed to decided on which one to use. I had seen Netvibes in my web site logs before. In fact, the first time I saw it I registered an account and tried it out. I found it too slow, and too busy (visually). So that one was right out. Then I remembered that Google has their own client called Reader. Since I use Google for just about everything else (I even have a Google Voice account), I figured I would try it out.

I have been using Google Reader for about a week now. I have to say that it is quite nice. It isn't as nice as a traditional desktop application, but it works well. It encompasses points 1 and 3 from above, and I was able to import my subscriptions from Vienna (export to OPML file from Vienna -> import OPML file in Reader). It also has a feature that can be really nice: you can "share" articles you find interesting and anyone "following" your account can then see the articles. They don't have to be subscribed to the feed from which the article was shared. This could be really handy for keeping family, friends, or co-workers up-to-date with relevant information without having to send them links all day long.

In addition, Reader has a very nice mobile site. So I can read my subscriptions on my phone while eating lunch, sitting in the back seat of someone's car, or just wherever I have a free minute.

If you work from multiple devices/locations, and rely on RSS feeds for your information, then I recommend you try out Google Reader. And if you want to follow my shared items, have at it.


Kinda creepy - I was just starting to think I had too many websites to keep up with. I wanted to look into some of the top RSS Feed Readers, and you have taken some of the research out for me. Google Reader it is.

Posted by Mr Frosti on Monday, 26 October 2009, 18:52:12 EDT.