RSS Aggregators

By oish330oish330 (1261692629|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

One of my biggest complaints with RSS aggregators on the web (Google, Bloglines) is their interfaces. Although both of the aforementioned readers are very capable, I can never seem to convince myself to type in that URL everyday for my news updates. I would rather browse through the web pages of a handful of news sites. Maybe I am just biased or maybe I have not given the web based RSS aggregators a fair shot at winning my heart. Either way, what I do know is that I see the potential value in using RSS to check up on my favorite websites, news, and blogs in a single location (I tend to be obsessed with making everything in my life more efficient). For this reason, I decided to explore two mac RSS aggregator software-based options: Mac Mail (standard with Mac OS) and NetNewsWire (free download at NewsGator). Below you will find my comments:

Mac Mail


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What I like:

  • Show your feeds in your email Inbox
  • Add feeds from bookmarked sites in Safari without having to open Safari
  • If you're a Safari browser user, you can use it to manager your RSS feeds (see these instructions).
  • Can sync Mail/Safari feeds between two computers, say your desktop and laptop for example. Here is a tutorial on how to set it up if you're interested (disclaimer: requires some copy/pasting scripting code)

What I don't like:

  • Slow to update
  • Inability to search for new feeds directly in the software
  • No pictures in expanded view for news (just text and link to original site). Note that iTunes feeds do show album art
  • Advertisements in expanded view

Learn more:

NetNewsWire


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What I like:

  • Google Reader importing
  • Multiple view options. I personally really like the Widescreen view which makes it super easy to view the different feed categories you have, headlines, and expanded view to read what you're interested in
  • Ability to post to your blog or delicious
  • Bandwidth stats so you can track which feeds are most updated (and take up more of your bandwidth because they have to download to your computer more often)
  • Most/Least attention tracking. I think it is cool to see which sites you are reading most often, particularly because it can be hard to track which sites provide the best info for your interests if you are tracking 300 news sites
  • Built-in tabbed web browser
  • Scrollable headline view that allows users to see the pictures included in articles and read the first couple of paragraphs. This is a great way to see all of your day's news in one window, just scroll through and stop at the articles that look interesting.
  • Customizable skins for the expanded viewing area
  • Matching iPhone app ($1.99 at the App store)

What I don't like:

  • Inability to search for new feeds directly in the software
  • Advertisements in the main window unless you pay to upgrade

Learn more:


Conclusion and more info

Spending some time with both these pieces of software has me beginning to warm up to RSS. Particularly with NetNewsWire's really cool feature list and interface, I feel like it will grow on me and may replace my daily haunting of too many news websites. Maybe I will find something productive to do with the time I can save not having to type in so many URLs to get the daily dose of info. The only down side is that neither of software I tested allows users to search for new feeds in the built-in interface. This is where sites like Blogline and Google Reader are superior. However, I think this is a tradeoff I can live with.

Figuring out these two RSS aggregators was an interesting experience and taught me more about the features available on my Mac. For a really good review about other software-based aggregators for Mac OS check out this site.

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