Monday, July 18, 2005

Web-based RSS aggregators + two great tastes that...

This was a response to an email thread on a mailing list I'm on... but it's come up enough that I should blog it so I don't have to keep typing it over and over again.

There are also a number of web-based RSS readers, aka aggregators. There are numerous benefits to using a web-based aggregator, one being that you can read your feeds from any computer and read/unread status for messages (and your subscriptions for that matter) will always be current. I highly recommend checking out that approach, particularly if you have multiple computers you surf from (eg, home, work, etc). And since they’ll all (AFAIK) import and export an OPML list of your subscribed feeds, switching from one to the other for test drive purposes is pretty painless.

Bloglines is AFAIK the first web RSS aggregator. – I have occasional problems with it where it does not refresh properly and shows me pages full of javascript, or displays only articles from 6 months ago in certain feeds. Might be my account is messed up as I haven’t heard other people have this problem. NetNewsWire Pro - OS X only, sorry Windows & Linux users - can sync with Bloglines.

Newsgator is doing some very cool stuff, in addition to the web version, they have an Outlook plug-in that syncs with the web reader. They have also partnered up with Feeddemon for a full desktop client that also syncs up. I believe there’s a mobile version, too. The web-only version is free; the Outlook plug-in can be demo’d but you need to pay eventually. For many people, especially those who spend lots of time on MS platforms, I think that Newsgator should probably be the first candidate you evaluate for web-based aggregator.

C’Net has a very polished looking one called Newsburst.

Rojo is getting some good buzz lately.

Of course Firefox itself has RSS capabilities and there are tons of RSS extensions for Firefox, but keep in mind that browser-based != web-based.

Safari also does RSS.

And in case any of you are living under a rock, IE 7 will have RSS support; Longhorn will have even more.

I’ve also found that combining web-based "social bookmarking" with a web-based aggregator is a great way to bookmark those links you spot while surfing at home that you want to follow up on later at work; I particulary appreciate being able to annotate each link with some extra text, or a key sentence or two from the page instead of just having to rely on the page title. You can also type in extra ‘tags’ to label what category(ies) a bookmark falls into. As an extra bonus, if you’ve found a bunch of links on a topic and you want to share them with a co-worker etc, it’s as simple as giving them your URL for that tag. For example, here are my links on LUA (least-user-access aka least privilege):

To bring this full-circle back to RSS: any tag bookmark has its own RSS feed. Here’s the RSS feed for ALL users’ bookmarks (remember that "social bookmarking" thing?This is what I'm talking about) that are tagged with “Longhorn”: - if you aren’t up on RSS yet and just want to see the HTML version, here it is:

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