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For Mac Users, Many Feed Reader Choices.

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I just realized that besides my Apple Mail email app, the most used application on my desktop is NetNewsWire, the feed reader that is a force to reckon with. Following closely there after is Ecto, my blogging client, that I use for not only writing posts, but also as an informal word processor, and post all my interviews, and notes to a local edition of WordPress, that hums peacefully on my mac. Wow…. how much of our information comes via feeds now, and hopefully we can see more innovation around it.

NetNewsWire iconOh sorry for digressing from the point of the post: the NetNewsWire. I have been using it for so long, that I feel bored with it. It feels a little sluggish and little dowdy. While waiting for the recently released, NNW 2.1 Beta, I decided to cheat on NNW and looked for options that might fit the bill. I mean, I am fairly happy with the read, preview and built in browser features of NNW, and especially dig the three-pane view. Still, no harm in looking. What I discovered were many many and many options.

Vienna iconI think in many ways we Mac Users are blessed by a community of great programmers who whip-up excellent apps. I think the three feed readers I tried were NewsFire, the NewMac Pro and the Vienna, a free open source client so good, that the developers might as well charge good money for it.

And just when, I decided that these should be enough, Adriaan Tijsseling, who had crafted the most lovely, Ecto dropped me an email, informing me that he has released a brand new feed reader called, Endo.

NewsFire iconMy intention is not to do a review of all but instead highlight what I found were the most appealing after using these for an extended period of time. Each one has its own benefits. News Fire, coded by the most talented David Watanabe, is faster than a Ferrari – handling hundred of items so rapidly, that it has become one of my favorites. NewsFire blocks ads by default. You can add your own stylesheet to apps like NetNewsWire, Vienna, or Endo to restyle the page, drop ads, and even add some corporate branding if you’d like.

NewsMac ProIf it is speedy, then NewsMac Pro is absolutely luscious – a visually stunning work of art, which has its own quirks, but boy, I like how it looks. The best thing about it is that it has a built-in podcast player. It lets you save searches as folders, and uses tabs very efficiently. It has an automatic multi-colored headline flagging (marks news stories containing keywords different colors) which is very helpfl when you read nearly 500 feeds. Here is the best part, iPod headline synchronisation. ThinkMac Software has promised a universal version of the software, and perhaps that will help on my new MacBook Pro.

EndoThat brings me to Endo. I have not been able to play with Endo as yet, but clearly it is a big departure from traditional feed readers. It has a built in torrent client, and can easily handle torrents linked to in articles. It is too early to tell, but like Ecto, Endo is an acquired taste. I am getting used to it, and like what I see so far. My favorite feature of Endo is an offline mode that downloads images locally so you can see the full post when you are offline. It’s great for browsing your feeds when you are offline such as on a train or airplane

Still, I have waited for NNW’s next big update, which dropped on Friday. The best part about it is that it syncs with Newsgator Online services. That is crucial, because I have multiple computers and tend to use them at different times of the day. For instance, at work I have a G5 iMac, while at home I have a Powerbook and a MacBook Pro, in addition to a PC which is mostly used for testing PC products. So far, the new NNW 2.1 meets my expectations – at least from a syncing perspective. NetNewsWire 2.1 has undergone a large code refactor resulting in faster response times – which means it is faster than the previous versions of the software. It has loads of other features.

So if you are a Mac user, you have excellent choices. You can pick a feed reader that fits your style of reading. Hope this helps….

Also check out Niall Kennedy’s excellent essay, The State of the RSS Aggregator and where the current market is headed.

12 Responses to “For Mac Users, Many Feed Reader Choices.”

  1. tcrooks

    Roger said: “but I prefer to read things in a browser instead of yet another program I have to have open.”

    I’m not into parsing 6-700 feeds but for the level I’m at – 100 or so – I find Bloglines – – adequate. Actually its simplicity forces me to be ruthless with feeds that cannot summarise the content succinctly and to cull them from my feeds list. And I like opening an item into a new browser window as it allows me to continue skimming feeds.

  2. If you live in Firefox, like I do, you should check out Sage:

    Which is a Firefox Extension that puts a feed reader in your sidebar. I’ve tried NNW, PulpFiction and a bunch of others, but I prefer to read things in a browser instead of yet another program I have to have open.

    Sage just works. I have over 100 feeds in the sidebar and it’s nice and fast, and everything displays in the browser like I want it to.

  3. Those programs are good for amateurs, but when you get up to 600 or 700 feeds, you can’t even start the program and click the mouse for two minutes, they’re so slow. As with many kinds of software, they just aren’t suited to heavy usage.

  4. I don’t mind the choice, but I’ve switched over to ma.gnolia, so it doesn’t really do me much good. Endo seems to have done the same thing wrt. social bookmarking. Perhaps the social bookmarking sites should consider weighing in on the TrackBack standard, because definately, with a bit of authentication thrown in, this could be a solid use-case for the standard. Instead of asking you for your username and password, it’d ask you for your bookmarking trackback url (and your username/password). Hmm, I’ll have to add this idea to the TrackBack wiki.

  5. I like the addition of “Post to” in the new version of NNW, even though there has been some discussion about whether targeting a specific social bookmarking service is the right way to go. Brent’s obviously taken a position here, and I gotta say I think balkanizing bookmarks is a bigger negative than going with

    I’m also happy to see integration with posting app Pukka — after using Cocoalicious for quite a while, I started to get frustrated with it. Now, with a streamlined NetNewsWire and the slick, simple Pukka program, I’m happy all over again.

  6. I tried out endo, and feature-wise, I love it. Interface-wise, eh… not so much. And right now, as I sort of implied in the link above, interface is the most important thing for desktop aggregators. I’ll stick to NNW for now.

  7. Um. Hasn’t everyone forgotten about Safari? Say what you like about feed readers but I don’t really no anyone – other than a few hard core geeks – who started using feeds before Safari 2.0 hit the streets last year. And, as nice as any of these readers are, I doubt anyone – other than a few hard core geeks – will ever be using them.