I’ve been using Netvibes to make monitoring dashboards for clients because I like the visual dashboard layout and have found that it is fairly easy to use, even for people who are new to RSS readers. Because the layout is a little more visual than some of the other RSS readers, it works really well for monitoring conversations because you can see quite a bit of information across multiple feeds at a glance. One limitation with Netvibes has been the inability to create multiple pages, each with a separate set of tabs. Previously, you could only have one set of tabs. If you needed a new set of different tabs, you had to create a new Netvibes account under a different email address. Needless to say, I have more Netvibes accounts than I can keep track of as a result of this limitation.
Today, Netvibes will add support for multiple personalized pages. I’ve had the opportunity to check it out in advance. Now with one account I can create several pages, each page with a unique set of tabs. As a consultant who works with many clients, I love being able to separate the monitoring that I do for each client without having to keep track of multiple Netvibes logins. You can customize the look and feel of each page to add a logo or custom color scheme to easily tell at a glance which page you are viewing.
You can also publish these pages, which is a great way to share information with others. Sharing pages has a few interesting uses. You could share a page with all of your content from various sources as a visual life stream with certain components prioritized over others based on tab or page placement. Or you could use these public pages to share collections of interesting information with people. Right now, I share collections of RSS feeds as OPML files, which works great for highly technical users, but I’ve found that many of the people I work with are unlikely to know what to do with them.
For the more technical users, Netvibes has supported OPML export from the earliest versions of the service, but the OPML files available weren’t particularly useful. Previously, the OPML export put all of your tabs into one big file, making it difficult to share only portions of your feeds with people using other RSS readers. While the OPML export still exports all of your tabs, now it exports them per page, which is more manageable and makes it easier to share content with other people or to back up your feeds before making extensive changes. I also like to export all of the feeds I set up before sharing them with a client, so that I have a snapshot containing the exact feeds that I delivered as part of the dashboard.
Netvibes makes it very easy to rearrange your pages, but even more importantly, you can also quickly move and copy tabs between the pages. A great way to get started with a new page is by copying existing tabs from other pages, and reusing common tabs across different pages. Keep in mind that it only creates a copy of the tab, so if you make changes to a tab that appears on multiple pages, you will have to make the change on each copied tab. This also means that you can copy a tab to another page and make tweaks to it for a particular situation without having the changes unexpectedly propagate to the other pages.
I really like the multiple personalized page support in Netvibes, since it solves previous pain points related to segmenting information and exporting OPML files. The good news is that Netvibes, a company that has been quietly growing, says that multiple pages are just the first in a set of new features that it plans to make available in future releases.
What do you think about these new Netvibes features?