FeedDemon: Replacing Google Reader?

On Wednesday Newsgator surprised many people by releasing new versions of their client RSS readers and making them available for free. Clients include FeedDemon for Windows platforms and NetNewsWire for the Mac. Since reading feeds has become part of my daily online routine I am always looking for an apprpriate reader. The only feed readers I have used so far are Bloglines and Google Reader, occasionally I use BlogBridge. All of them are quite good, though Google Reader is my standard reader. However since those Newsgator readers are considered some of the best in the market, I thought there’s no good reason to not check them out. I had a look at FeedDemon; I can’t check NetNewsWire for lack of a Mac, though.

FeedDemon

When running FeedDemon for the first time I noticed a couple of options to customize the reader. There are different ways to view feeds and I can also change styles, font sizes and much more. There are even tabs and a build-in browser. Most of those settings are not available in Bloglines and Google Reader. I have changed it so it looks like this when starting FeedDemon:

start

I have organized my subscriptions in folders as you can see in the left pane – well, it is the same as in Google Reader since I exported my OPML file from there – and only folders with unread items are shown. The middle, empty pane shows a single feed (see screenshot below), and the right pane usually shows the content of each feed but shows all unread feeds at the start. It also displays the feeds I pay most attention to. That’s my view but people can change it according to their preferences.

single_feed

The single feed is organized by date which is rather beneficial as I can easily see if the blog updates regularly.

There are also reports available which are really cool; e.g. there is the Popular Topics report which works as my own memetracker (see screenshot). Other reports include the Dinosaur one that shows all feeds which haven’t updated in a certain time; users can even unsubscribe automatically if the feed hasn’t updated.

popular_topics

There is also a search function available which works well but is slower than Google’s for example. Also I think FeedDemon updates feeds quicker than Google Reader and Bloglines. I have seen blog posts appearing almost two hours earlier in FeedDemon than in Google Reader. If you’re a news junkie or a web worker that might be another reason to check out FeedDemon. Clippings (saving favourites) and Watches (well, watching items containing certain keywords) add to the impressive feature list.

Newsgator Account

FeedDemon works without signing up for a Newsgator account. Though a Newsgator account allows for easy synchronization between different computers and even platforms. Let’s say people run FeedDemon on their Windows machine at the office and NetNewsWire on their MacBook. Their feeds will always be synchronized on both machines. It’s also possible to use the Newsgator account for reading feeds online. Though I have to admit that both Bloglines and Google Reader are a better solution here.

newsgator_online

APML

One of the reasons Newsgator gives those readers away for free is attention. Newsgator wants to learn which feeds people are interested in and based on that data it wants to improve the clients. Attention data is stored in an APML file which can be exported. Importing an APML file doesn’t work yet, though.

This is another interesting approach to APML and according to the company even a reason to give products away for free. If you don’t sign up for a Newsgator account attention data won’t be collected, of course.

Conclusion

FeedDemon is a very good feed reader. I use it parallel to Google Reader since two days and it has the potential to replace it completely. I am not 100% used to it yet but it’s just a matter of time, I guess. It’s highly recommended.

17 thoughts on “FeedDemon: Replacing Google Reader?

  1. Thanks for taking the time to post such a thorough review, Carsten!

    One tip I’d like to suggest (which you can feel free to ignore): just leave the middle “news item list” pane hidden. Not only will this give you more space for reading the newspaper, but I think you’ll find it a better way to quickly scan through your unread items (especially when used in conjunction with the “Next” toolbutton, which marks the page as read and moves to the next page).

  2. Nick, I’m not quite sure if I want the middle pane to be visible or not. It’s nice to have some kind of calendar for certain feeds. On the other hand you’re right of course, there’s much more space for articles if it’s hidden.

    What I’d like to see, though, is marking posts read when scrolling down. Also will it be possible to import APML files someday? This would help people who don’t have an OPML file or don’t want to add feeds manually to discover feeds they might be interested in.

  3. Hi Carsten, I’m trying FeedDemon too. The main reason I used Bloglines was that I’m rss reading on several different computers. With synchronizing I get the full potential of a rich client software.

    So far FeedDemon is quite impressive. I just have to get used to the different ways FeedDemon does the management and to the UI.

  4. @Carsten: I’ve seen a few other aggregators mark items read as you scroll the page, but quite honestly, I really dislike this idea. To me, the fact that I’ve scrolled an article doesn’t mean I’ve read it – it may simply mean that I’m scrolling to an article beneath. But of course, my dislike can be overruled if enough people ask for this feature :)

    APML import will definitely appear in the future. The eventual goal is to enable importing not only your list of feeds, but also each feed’s relative importance to you. And for the record, we want to do this in a way that works across different aggregators (including ones that compete with our own).

    @Frank: I’m glad to hear that you’re impressed with FeedDemon! I know the UI is quite different from online aggregators, but I think if you give it some time, you’ll find it provides a much more intuitive way to read your feeds (especially if you have a ton of them and you want to quickly scan through them).

  5. OK, I see.

    Another question: is it possible to expand the ‘Send To’ menu to more than del.icio.us and Digg? Would be nice if there were more options available or if users could add new services themselves which is preferable, I guess. I want Ma.gnolia. :)

  6. @Carsten: If you don’t mind a bit of geekery, you can add a lot of different services to the “Send To” menu. That menu is built from the XML files contained in FeedDemon’s \Data\SendTo subfolder. I don’t know much about Ma.gnolia, but you might be able to copy the digg.xml or delicious.xml file in that folder and adapt it for Ma.gnolia.

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