I’ve been a long time Google Reader user. It’s great having one place that remembers exactly what you have read and what you haven’t. I had never really spent any time using a desktop feed reader as the online ones have always met my needs. Recently however I started a new job at NewsGator Technologies. We make a number of products focused around RSS including several desktop readers. In order to “eat the dog food” I began the process of moving over all of my RSS consumption to utilize the various NewsGator products.
I’ve tried using the NewsGator online service in the past however it didn’t provide me a compelling reason to switch from Google Reader. This time I was determined to figure out the best possible way to utilize the various products in a way that would make it easier and quicker for me to follow the large number of feeds I’m subscribed to (currently 62, some of which are fairly high volume). I try to limit my news reading to no more than an hour or so a day, but in that hour I have a lot of content to skim through and read. Finding a really efficient process is critical to maximizing the use of the limited time.
After tweaking with things a bit, here is my new setup:
- I’ve setup my account on the NewsGator online server (I’m using an internal to NewsGator version of the public server, but it’s the same thing).
- I’ve configured my feeds into the NewsGator server to be fetched and have the posts stored for my retrieval via one of the various clients. My feeds are organized into 4 categories (Technology, Blogs, Local News, National and International News).
- I’m using NetNewsWire on my home iMac and my MacBook Air, The iPhone version of NetNewsWire, and FeedDemon on my work laptop.
The advantages of using NetNewsWire and FeedDemon versus Google Reader are numerous. Here are some of my observations after just a few days usage:
- The biggest single advantage is offline viewing. NetNewsWire can fetch all of the content and then store it locally on my Mac to view when I’m away from an internet connection. This is also true of FeedDemon although I haven’t used that yet.
- With NetNewsWire there is no waiting for page loads of the content or images. Because everything is fetched in advance I’m only communicating with the NewsGator servers, which are very fast. All of the content is downloaded when I first sync so when I’m actually reading the posts I can just click through them with no delay. This is a huge time saver when I’m only looking at titles on 85-90% of the posts that I receive, being able to move on to the next one without waiting the 1-2 seconds it takes in Google reader to catch-up multiplied by the thousands of posts I skim in a day is certainly time saved.
- My process with Google Reader was to skim the posts for the ones that I’m actually interested in reading and then open the permalink in a new tab. This will cause the page to load in the background while I continue skimming Google Reader. This process worked well, but what works even better is the built in browser within NetNewsWire. When the permalink is clicked in NetNewsWire it is opened up in a tab right within the application. That page is opened up in a “tab” of sorts identified by a helpful thumbnail image of the resulting page. NetNewsWire keeps all of these pages open while I’m reader so that I can easily consult them without filling up my browser tabs.
- Something I haven’t taken advantage of before now are feeds that contain media rich (audio and video) downloads. Google Reader has no real way to accommodate this. In NetNewsWire however you can configure feeds to push content straight to a helper application like iTunes. This allows content distribution via RSS without the need of a central service. I look forward to more and more content providers using this approach for rich media in the future.
- I use the “clipping” functionality to save off various posts that I find interesting enough to share with others. With the online service you can configure NewsGator to publish an RSS feed of your “clippings”. I’ve setup this feed to be syndicated to my wordpress blog so anyone can go and see the stories that I found interesting.
- I can access my feeds from anywhere using my iPhone. The iPhone application has the same benefits as the desktop client and the portability of the iPhone. If only it could sync against other NewsGator servers than the public one. @brentsimmons when is this coming?
- Brent also created a list of unique features of NetNewsWire that might be helpful.
So overall I’m very happy with this solution. I went into this feeling fairly pessimistic that it would actually be an improvement over Google Reader. The end result however is that I’ve been able to shave a significant amount of time off the feed reading that I do. I guess this means I can just start subscribing to more feeds