Vienna is a newly announced news-reader for OS X. From the product page, it looks to have many of the same features as NetNewsWire or Newsfire, but Vienna is different in that it is totally free. Vienna is available for download as either a pre-compiled version, or the raw source code. This seems to be the first open-source project that compares to the big commercial programs. I will be posting a review of this software some time within the next week, as soon as I get a good feel for it.


Rahul Sinha

I have to say, one of NetNewsWire’s top features for me is the .Mac sync. I just received my new Powermac, and upon downloading the application and setting it to sync, instantly all the feeds and groups from my Powerbook were set up. Following this the two instances of NNW arrange to ensure an article marked read in one is read in the other etc.

Many people sneer at .Mac. As webspace, it is a so-so deal, especially now, with the bandwidth caps. As a tool for “clustering” together one’s various Macs it is invaluable. Be it the automatic propagation of keychains, Omniweb bookmarks, email settings etc, it provides a service that no other platform offers.

I truly hope, for its own sake, that Vienna explores the possibilities that .Mac can provide in this area. I hear the new SDK expands on the possibilities and capabilities of the .Mac service.



As much as I like Netnewswire, I just don’t use it anymore since Safari 2.0 was released. I find the RSS feature built into the browser very, very handy. It sure is very basic, doesn’t have a lot of features, but I really like how smooth it works.
I’ll give Vienna a try though, who knows it’s even better than Safari RSS ;-)



You should do a roundup of the best (in your opinion) OSS for OSX. You have some really good points about how it lets down, but occasionally shines.

Jason Terhorst

Ugh. I know I have issues when my typed comments are longer than the original article.

Jason Terhorst

That is true, that people will often gain comfort with a commercial product, and will just glance at an open source project. For instance, I – like many people – use Word… a lot. I briefly played with Open Office. It was bundled in Knoppix and Mandrake, so I’ve played with it more than enough. It was very much like Office 97 for Windows (and felt slow and clunky like it). After that mere glance, I confirmed that I would be using Word for a while. Sure, Pages is cool, but doesn’t compete with Word as much as Publisher.

Overall, open source offerings tend to disappoint folks, which is kind of sad, since they are examples of the power of collaboration. Unfortunately, the people involved are usually software engineers, who aren’t very skilled with design, though they can do an excellent job with the programming part of it. The interfaces are clunky, slow, ugly, and just Microsoft-ish. But that’s why when I use Adium, I don’t think “this is open-source”, though I know I can download the source for it and play with it. The only curse that Adium gets from the OSS world is taking forever to get out of beta – they’re still in 0.8! Whatever Adium does, the rest of the OSS people need to find out the secret, and learn from them. Otherwise, Microsoft will be able to roll over on top of them before long.

Speaking of source, where are the downloadable source packages at, Steve? I’d like to take a look.


i guess im just to happy with Safari i installed Firefox and other browsers but i just keep on using Safari. I will test Vienna but dont think i will “use” it.

Most of my friends are the same Safari is good enough.


Thanks for pointing my error out to me. I meant to say that this seems to be the first open source news reader to compete with the big dogs. I too, love adium, and have been using it for ages.

Also, I agree that David Wattanabe is a total loon.


Really nice to see the developer (Steve) open and engaged in the conversation. I really liked NewsFire but the developer is less than helpful or accommodating. Good luck Steve.


Good, constructive feedback Jason. I think you’re right that there’s a high bar for Mac OSX applications and I agree that Vienna isn’t there yet. One thing I’d like to emphasise that wasn’t mentioned in Dan’s original article is that the current version is still beta and there some way to go before the official 2.0 release later this year. So there will be additional development effort coming down the line aimed at moving it closer to and beyond the commercial versions in terms of functionality, stability and UI polish.

By releasing Vienna in its current state, I’m looking to solicit the sort of feedback such as yours that will help keep the project on the right direction as opposed to waiting until it is “nearly done”. If Vienna is a better product when it gets to the release state then it’ll be because of the feedback from the community. That has always been the intent.

There will be another build out next week and at least one build every two weeks going forward. The eye candy will hopefully get a bit better with each release. :-)

Thanks for the feedback!

Jason Terhorst

This seems to be the first open-source project that compares to the big commercial programs.

I’m not sure that I agree with this comment. Adium is the only real project I’ve seen that competes with commercial software, because it’s so well done, and people work in the areas that they are talented at. Recent versions of Adium have an awesome interface, with tons of creative designs (icons, backgrounds, etc), and a whole website dedicated to downloading those things.

Vienna seems to be a technically okay program, but doesn’t have the clean interface and the general “look and feel” that the other apps have. (This may be due to the fact that there aren’t as many graphic designers involved with Vienna as the commercial apps, or Adium, for that matter).

Steve, I recommend looking at NewsFire as an example (though you should be careful about Dave Watanabe – he’s a bit loony, from what the Mac developer community says). In fact, look at both NetNewsWire and NewsFire as an example of simplicity – notice how the information is presented in a simple manner, and flows with the eye, follows the Apple User Interface Guidelines…. In addition, many Mac users like the the way that NewsFire sorts the stories by relevance – it quickly throws the newsest stuff to the top of the feed’s stories list. NewsFire also has some other unique UI tricks. Right now, Vienna just seems… plain. I hope you don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean to nit pick, but I’m pointing out the fact that the bar was set extremely high by Panic, Ranchero, Delicious Monster, and Apple. It will become harder and harder for OSS projects to jump and reach it. That’s why Adium changes a lot, just to keep up.


Hi, I’m the developer of Vienna. To respond to Felix – support for a built-in browser will follow in beta 2 due out in the next 2 months. I’ll get around to publishing the roadmap to release sometime in the next few days.


That is correct, but I would not call the browser a standard feature in most OS X feed readers. In my opinion, it is the best feature of NNW, and the one that makes it stand out form the crowd.


I didn’t check fully for Vienna, but at first sight it misses a feature I very much appreciate with Netnewswire, namely the possibility to click through on each newsfeed, and go directly to the website via the built-in browser of netnewswire.
Correct me if i’m wrong :)

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