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Summary:

Onfolio recently released an updated preview version of the capable information manager and after seeing Marc Orchant’s good review of the utility I decided I had to try it for my own use.  The current version of Onfolio has incorporated an RSS feed aggregator into the […]

Onfolio_ie_3 Onfolio recently released an updated preview version of the capable information manager and after seeing Marc Orchant’s good review of the utility I decided I had to try it for my own use.  The current version of Onfolio has incorporated an RSS feed aggregator into the information management it provides and I knew if it worked well it could really improve the way that I work.  I should be honest up front and state that I did not expect it to replace my current system of FeedDemon for RSS aggregation which I have been happy with for a long time and OneNote with the IE2OneNote Power Toy which I use to capture internet information.  Boy was I wrong!

Onfolio_deskbar_1Onfolio can be used as a standalone application (Onfolio Deskbar) or integrated in the web browser.  Upon installation Onfolio creates some buttons in your browser toolbar that will toggle the program on and off in a browser frame on the left of the window, update your RSS feeds, and capture the current web page.  The capture can be either just a link to the current page or you can capture the whole page locally within the Onfolio collection.  One thing you will notice about anything you do in Onfolio is that it is very fast.  Collecting a web page happens in seconds and can be done without interfering with your work.

The Onfolio collection is well designed in its organization.  Your information is collected into a tree view of folders that can be organized any way you want.  I have mine organized into folders for future article information, podcast information, etc.  It is a simple design that makes it easy to find that nugget of information you know you have somewhere.  You can configure the tree view to give you a brief preview of the collected web page which makes it simple to find something without opening the web page most of the time.

Onfolio_feedsThe RSS aggregator is presented as another tree view that is selected by clicking the Feeds tab and all of your subscribed feeds are listed.  You can configure Onfolio to periodically update your feeds based on a timed interval or to restrict all updating to happen manually when you want it.  Updating the feeds is as fast as other programs and the feed tree is laid out so you can see at a glance which feeds have been updated and how many new items there are for viewing.  Where Onfolio shines is in the "newspaper" view of your feeds.  When you select a particular feed with new information Onfolio creates a newspaper that contains all of the new articles for that feed.  This newspaper opens up in the browser and provides a number of ways to deal with that article including adding it to the "My Reading List" which lets you keep an eye on that particular feed in the future, or just save it for returning to later.  In addition to generating a newspaper for each feed if you click on the My Feeds folder in the feed tree view Onfolio generates a newspaper that contains all the new articles in all your feeds.  This is a very useful way to browse through all your new feed information and is presented in a concise display with options for dealing with each individual article in several ways.

Onfolio_feed_newspaper

Onfolio_firefox_1It is probably evident that Onfolio has impressed me in the few weeks I’ve been using it exclusively.  The intuitive way that Onfolio works with my information and the multiple ways it lets me interact with both my information and the program makes it fit perfectly in my style of working.  Onfolio carries that even further since it works in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.  That’s right, Onfolio works in Firefox exactly the same as it functions in IE and that makes it just perfect for me.  I use Firefox most of the time but still have to switch over to IE occasionally for those sites that don’t work well in Firefox.  Onfolio saves the user’s collection data in a self-contained database that is separate from any browser so that means that you can switch back and forth between the two browsers and have all your information intact in either.  Great design choice and the only way Onfolio would work for me.

Onfolio is available as a free preview and even if they charged for the product I would most definitely use it.  Onfolio has been such a useful tool for me that it has successfully knocked FeedDemon out of my toolbox and while I still use OneNote’s great note handling functions I no longer use it for content collection and management.

  1. I went back and forth a lot between Onfolio and Newsgator as my RSS aggregator. In the end I stuck with Newsgator for two major reasons:

    1. I always have outlook running anyway, and newsgator will automatically refresh my RSS feeds when I get a connection. This is nice when I just have a wifi connection for a minute and I want to get everything updated quickly.

    2. Newsgator’s online service allows me to add a feed on any machine I’m using (desktop, U750, laptop, work machine) and not worry about synching up those feeds manually. Not to mention I can access my feeds from anywhere via the Newsgator site.

    One other thing, Onfolio has a larger memory footprint than Outlook + Newsgator + OneNote. It’s not their fault, it’s just that it’s yet another program running all the time. If I had the option for more than 512MB on the U750, I would be more comfortable with it.

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  2. Great review James – very thorough and you hit all of the things I have come to really rely on with this essential tool.

    Ben: You should probably take another look when the official release comes out as the footprint should be a bit smaller once they optimize the code.

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  3. I used NewsGator for a good while when it first came out. I went away from it when my feeds numbered in the hundreds and it seemed to clutter up my already hard hit Outlook setup. I came to realize that I like my feeds separate from Outlook, although I realize that for many people having them reside within OL is perfect for them. I just love the way Onfolio works with both Firefox and IE and that is the winner for me personally.

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  4. If only this thing sync’d to a pocket pc…

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  5. Doesn’t everyone have a “newspaper” template, now? Onfolio’s didn’t seem any better to me.

    I have tried several applications: standalone (RSS Bandit, Omea Reader), inside the browser (Onfolio), inside Outlook (Newsgator, Blogbot). I keep going back to RSS Bandit for several reasons (other applications may have these features, too, but you tend to stick with what you know):

    1. It has tabbed windows within the application (it doesn’t kick you out to a browser window — usually the same browser window — when you open another window, like Omea does, or when you click on a link in Newsgator).

    2. I can use the up and down arrow keys, and the scroll wheel, to scroll from feed to feed. I don’t need to use the mouse and click on each feed. This is probably a key reason I haven’t latched on to browser- and Outlook-based apps. I’ve gotten so used to this that it drives me nuts when I’m in an app that won’t allow it. (I can scroll in IE, too, but not in Firefox — and neither lets me move from feed to feed with the arrow keys).

    3. It has several templates for viewing pages — one of which is the newspaper style. No one has a monopoly on that, anymore.

    4. It’s free!

    It’s not perfect, of course. It’s a standalone, open-source app, so it doesn’t sync with any web-based twins. I have to manually export an opml file every time I add a new feed if I want to use my feeds somewhere else (or as insurance in case the app crashes — like Omea did). It does have a network-based sync feature, but I haven’t gotten it to work for me, yet.

    Onfolio is nice, no argument there, but for RSS feeds I prefer something else.

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  6. I used Onfolio for a year now.Though it sounds good on paper initially after u have used it for some time,the proprietry database that onfolio uses slows down the entire system.At that point you will be torn between exporting all the stuff you have saved to another application or losing all your work.

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  7. A great review JK! I installed Onfolio on my Tablet at DEMO but had to uninstall it yesterday, as my AV software kept stubbing its toe on the Onfolio feeds. Never had that problem (that I was aware of anyway) with Newsgator. Any advice?

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  8. Cam, what AV are you using? I use Norton and it coexists fine. What are your symptoms?

    Nirmal, that is pretty disturbing. I wonder if this update addresses that?

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  9. Thanks for the info re Onfolio. BTW, you may want to try Lektora for RSS; it’s a great program. Free with ads (not too intrusive). Capable of “clipping” items and/or emailing. I use it with FF.

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  10. Aviva Gabriel Monday, April 17, 2006

    I would like to automate the updating of webpages and websites in my Onfolio collections. Most of this material is not in the form of RSS feeds. Is there a function in Onfolio where you can set a preference to have it update your collections on a schedule? I’m faced with having to update manually, one link at a time…and my collection is so huge it’ll take weeks and weeks. I’m talking about a function that already exists in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser, where you can synchronize webpages/websites that you’ve bookmarked and saved as local files on your hard drive. Anyone know of an Onfolio function like this?

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