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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.