The Best RSS Reader

Yesterday in response to my post on how RSS works Paul Freet posed the question "what RSS reader do you use? I have never found one that works well with all of blogs I try to follow." 

For those that don’t know a RSS reader is a client or web app that lets
you automatically check RSS channels that you have subscribed to for
updates and let’s you browse the news that’s important to you.  And there sure are a lot of them out there.  The top result for the search term "best RSS reader" is an page that lists 108 different readers. 

To answer Paul’s question, my quest for a great RSS reader is ongoing.  Here is what the journey looks like so far.

I started reading RSS feeds some time ago via MyYahoo!  MyYahoo! is not a RSS reader per se but is a customizable web portal that always RSS content to be displayed.  Feeds can be easily added via a feedburner icon or the "add content " link on the front door of MyYahoo!.  Feed headlines are well displayed in MyYahoo! but to read the entire post requires clicking out of MyYahoo! to the blog.  MyYahoo! works very well for all feed types.  However, it is best suited to those that intend to subscribe to a low number of feeds as managing the order in which feeds are presented is cumbersome and extremely time consuming.  This leads to no user management at all, lots of wasted time scanning feed updates, and missing important articles of interest.

Having these issues I gave NetVibes a try.  NetVibes describes itself as a personal news aggregator, but it really is more of a next generation web portal, as in addition to RSS feeds it gathers weather, sports scores, and info from other web apps in a single interface.  Like MyYahoo! NetVibes supported all the feeds that I subscribed to.  On top of that managing the presentation order of feeds is a simple drag and drop within the portal interface.  This make it a better choice than MyYahoo! in my mind, but still once you get to a certain level of feeds it is difficult to manage and keep up with the feeds.

I also have tried Google reader.  I was unimpressed.

So about a month ago I downloaded NetNewsWire (NNW).  NNW is a Mac client reader created by NewsGator (they also make FeedDemon for Windows and just raised $12 million) that costs $29.95.  I let it sit for a bit.  Last week I spent a godawful amount of deal of time subscribing to all my feeds via NNW.  After using it for less then a week it seems to me that it is far and away and away the best solution I have seen.   The river of news metaphor is simply vastly superior to those of the other readers.  If you have a lot of feeds I highly recommend giving NNW or FeedDemon a try.

Update:  NNW and FeedDemon  just went free.  I  recommend them even more now.  Thanks to Paul Freet for the tip.

While I currently recommend NNW there are many ways that the application could be made both more reader efficient and richer.  I am a bit of an advanced RSS user.  There are currently 680 unread articles in my reader.  I need some intelligence in my reader so that I don’t miss the important articles that go by in the river.  My RSS feeds need to be personalized by how much attention that I pay to them and how I interact with specific feeds and articles.  FeedHub seem to be making a try at this but my rather limited experience with it thus far is that it requires too much user interaction with manual settings.  It seems a better solution would start with heuristics and move to a more semantic approach to reduce the need for overt user action while still presenting the feeds the user wants to see in a manner in which they are noticed.  Whoever creates that just might have the perfect RSS reader.

December 13, 2007  |  Comments  |  Tweet  |  Posted in Web/Tech