[ page last updated: Oct. 21, 2005. ]
i can’t believe an entire week has gone by..
i wanted to take a couple of hours each day to test out these 6 feed readers, but i gotta say that i still can’t decide which one i feel most comfortable with. looks like i may have seriously underestimated how easy it was going to be to make this choice. in the meantime, let me just say, that i have become a full blown feed junkie, thank you very much (not sure who to point the finger at on this one – but it’s got to be somebody’s fault right?).
anyway, here’s how i’ve been doing it and what i’ve found:
i started by logging in to each service, in 6 different Firefox tabs, all in a single browser. next i began to mess around, but trying to give each feed reader an equal amount of my attention. first i used the directories to browse for new feeds, and the search box to find sites with content i was interested in. then i took a look at the account features provided by each service. could i change my preferences.. did i even have any preferences? there were many things to explore. i did notice that Pluck and NewsGator kept logging me out if i hadn’t used them for more than 10 minutes or so. while this might be a very secure and efficient thing to do, the result was that i ended up spending a lot more time using all the other feed readers – who wants to have to keep logging in over and over again every ten minutes?
once i got bored of that, i tried to import an OPML file, which is essentially just a list of many different feeds all conveniently packed into one file. very useful for quickly moving around all your feeds (ie: import / export). suddenly i had a ton of feeds in my reader (80-120), and things got all cluttered. things were a mess, so i figured this might be a good time to test out how well each feed reader was able to manage large numbers of feeds. i deleted and renamed feeds and folders, reordering them in a way that was most useful to me. options like: display only unread articles, mark as read, and sort by date, are all particularly useful in these respects.
here are some more brief observations i have made over the course of the week:
Pros: expand/collapse summaries within feeds (Results), easy to navigate/browse feeds (DirBro), sort by day/week/month/favs/all (Results), ability to mark article as unread (Manage), machine learning technology (SpecO)
slow to add feeds (Manage) [this seems much faster now], no OPML import [see comments] or export (Manage) [this feature was added: 10/21/05], no account preferences (AccSet) – but they’re still just in beta.
My Feedster -
Pros: add feeds really fast (Manage), import/export opml files and urls(Manage)
Cons: feed results page is difficult to view (Results), no way to sort page results (Results)
Pluck Online -
Pros: fast loading pages (Results), import opml files but not urls (Manage), open stories in new window (Results), add bookmarks as well as feeds (SpecO), view Shadow pages (SpecO)
Cons: can’t tell which articles are new or have been read (Manage), no export opml (Manage), weird reloading browser window if you try to do anything (DirBro)
Pros: sort results differently for each folder/category (Results), expand/collapse feeds (Results), import opml files but not urls (Manage), export opml (Manage), keep articles as new even after they’ve been read (Manage)
Cons: no folder is created when importing new feeds (Manage), saving favorites is a 2-step process (ClipFav)
Pros: import/export opml (Manage), expand/collapse summaries within feeds (Results), many ways to sort (Results), easy one-click save/flag entries (ClipFav)
Cons: no easy way to rename categories (Manage)
NewsGator Online -
Pros: easily mark stories as read (Manage), choice to view only unread items (Results), the only service where you log in on a secure (https) server (SpecO), import/export opml files and urls (Manage)
Cons: can’t keep articles as new once they’ve been read (Manage)
Some of these feed readers have special features that would require more extensive testing in order for me to really say which i liked better. extras like tagging feeds (Rojo), favorites (Pluck), communities (Rojo,Pluck,Bloglines), machine learning (SearchFox), could easily sway my decision. the only service i am sure i would never stick with is Feedster. aside from being fast, i often had problems viewing feeds, organizing anything, uploading my logo/image, and sometimes it just wouldn’t work at all. if i had to pick my favorite 3 out of these 6 readers, i would have to say Rojo, Bloglines, and NewsGator. SearchFox could be up there as well, because of it’s ease of use. but since it is still in beta, and because i am forever intrigued with the idea of machine learning technology, i will keep SearchFox around for another 2 weeks. in that time, hopefully i can narrow these 3 services (actually 4) down to my #1 favorite. wish me luck.
[ This is a follow up to a previous article entitled: "So you think you can RSS? How", which is itself a follow up to an even earlier post entitled: "So you think you can RSS? Why", and looks at the evolution of the internet, why RSS and other feed formats are so popular today, how to use them, and why you might like one service over another. ]