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Feed me

Posted by Kunal on November 26, 2005

For the last many months, I have been following blogs using feed readers/aggregators. It is a very convenient way to read blogs especially if you are following a large number of blogs. Since I am a compulsive downloader, I must have tried atleast a dozen feed readers till now. Sadly, most of them don’t fit my needs.

When the company which can-do-no-evil created its own feed reader aka Google Reader, I thought that as usual it would be yet another competition thrashing product from the stables of Google. Yes, it does have snazzy UI, but its still half-baked IMHO. The problem with most feed readers is that they expect the users to read feeds in the same way as we read emails. The traditional two-paned view in which one pane has the headlines/titles and the other pane had the text body served well for emails, but I don’t like it for feeds. Feeddemon, which is by far the best feed reader I have used, uses something in addition to the two-pane view called as ‘newspaper view’. It is the best way to view blogs IMHO. The newspaper view diplays a feed like a page in a newspaper. The new and unread posts of the feed are concatenated together and displayed as one page. This not only minimizes efforts required by the user in terms on mouse-clicks, but it also makes it possible to briefly glance at all the new posts of the feed without actually reading them.

The problem is that very few feed readers have this feature. Of the ones which I have tried, I only found this feature in Bloglines, Feeddemon, aKregator (the feed reader for KDE) and Newzcrawler. Bloglines is probably the best feed reader of all, but for a dialup user like moi, offline reading isn’t possible using Bloglines so I don’t use it. aKregator is the only feed reader on Linux (from the ones I have tested, and believe me I have tried many) which supports newspaper style. I am just a recent convert to Kontact (the KDE Personal Information Manager which includes aKregator, KMail and other lot of other jazz that I don’t use), and its quite good. Much better than Thunderbird.

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