As a long time user of RSS and Aggregators I have gone through several different feed clients. For the uninitiated RSS is a way to track blogs/news sources and via an aggregator keep informed of when sites are updated. Last year I switched from a software based aggregator to using Bloglines which is both free and internet based. I wanted to be able to easily access feeds on my main computer or laptop without having to worry about synchronization between two computers and a web based aggregator is perfect for that. I had looked at Bloglines sometime after it first came out, but at that point it wasn’t up to what I needed. Currently though it is very solid and lets you easily look at all the new posts for each folder that you setup. Unfortunately from time to time due to crashes or other circumstances when I would loose feeds when after I rebooted they had been marked as read and not easily available.
From time to time I would also look at Google Reader which is another web based aggregator, but earlier versions were not quite ready for prime time. That changed last week when after evaluating it again I imported all of my feeds into it to start using it on a daily basis and I must admit that I really like it.
One improvement it has over Bloglines is that you can see feeds as a "List view" where each line shows just the post title and information about the source and an "Expanded view"that will display the whole post (or an excerpt as defined by that sites blogging system). The problem I had sometimes with Bloglines is not a problem in Google Reader. When you select to see all updated feeds for a folder they are not marked automatically as read. Only as you click on the posts, or scroll past them are they marked, or you can click to set all as marked. You can also set to view the posts by oldest or newest. I do wish they could sort by post titles, since when you are looking at some feeds of multiple news sources it would be nice to be able to quickly discern when multiple news agencies are repeating the same story from a source such as AP.
I also really like the Next item button which has a keyboard shortcut to rapidly go through feeds brining each post up in display regardless of the current view you have selected. Currently I track 480 feeds where the large majority are Catholic blogs, news sources, and then tech and programming related feeds. Even with this massive amount of feeds I find I can go through them very rapidly and have found that via Google Reader I have become much more efficient in the amount of time.
Like Gmail, Google Reader has an option to set a particular post as starred. This is cool since you can do your blog/news reading and mark it as starred so that you can easily go back to it later. I believe Google Reader is still in Beta since they still call it Google Reader LABS, and the logo for the product seems to be temporary. Though Google is infamous for having something in Beta forever.
One thing that Bloglines had that I wish Google Reader had was that Bloglines reporting how many people were subscribe to a particular feed. It was cool to see blogs have their number of subscribers grow over time, plus the vanity in me liked seeing how many people were subscribed to my blog via Bloglines.
Now if I can only find a way for Google to hand me over some of their massive amounts of cash for writing a positive review of Google Reader.
Is Goggle Reader better than Google Reader? 😉
Google Reader is great. As a matter of fact, I was notified of this post via Google Reader.
Another reason to be careful in selecting Replace All in a spell checker.
I’ve been pondering “the switch” for a while now. It’s definitely a tradeoff; there are some things Google does better overall (they seem to update the feeds more consistently), but I like the Bloglines layout. If I do go ahead with the switch, I’m also going to miss the Bloglines “hotkeys.”
Ahh, good deal: looks like there are indeed hotkeys available for Reader.
I agree especially with the comment about bloglines number feed susbscribers (and that’s just through blogines!). I have 126 Papists following me! 😉 They’re my “papist posse”.
I switched yesterday. I am keeping my blogroll with Bloglines but I am thinking of replacing it with say 20 or so most recent items from my favorites in Google Reader. That way it is more like a “fresh” blogroll. The problem I have seen with that is when some people post like 20 things and then they are the only person in my recent posts roll.
I expect they will add a blogroll capacity eventually …
For Firefox users: There is a neat Google Reader subscribe script for Greasemonkey on userscripts.org. Also there is a Theme that you can get for the Stylish plugin that is pretty slick … http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/journal/google-reader-theme
Love Google reader– I also use it to update my friends and family who have no idea what a “blog” is, but can visit “that site you have”.
The two things I like most about Google Reader are:
1. It’s web based so I can move from machine to machine and the settings follow me.
2. Since it’s Google, it was probably crawling the site already so I can look at old entries as well as current ones.
Now, if I could only get full text feeds from all of the sites…
Well, I tried to make the switch. Can’t do it. My major gripes with Google Reader:
a) There’s no way to go through a hotkey from one blog feed to the next. Or at least, not that I’ve found, that doesn’t involve multiple strokes. All it takes with Bloglines is “s”.
b) There’s no automatic mark on the switch. I need it to mark all of the items of any particular feed as read as soon as I click on the feed, just as Bloglines does. I follow about 200 feeds and don’t read everything, just skim quickly. The “mark all as read” command takes waaaaay too long to execute as well.
I had looked at Google Reader a while ago and didn’t like it (so I stayed with MyYahoo). After reading your post, I checked it out again and really like it this time so I’ve been busy moving my feeds over (yahoo doesn’t seem to have a way of exporting the feed definitions so I’ve been doing them one at a time, grrrr.
i used to use google reader till this new web based aggregator that my friend told me about came out. Its called itsmynews, i really like there layout and they appear to have lots of feeds, something that not all new RSS readers tend to have. I think you should all give it a look. I see it only getting better from here.