Wulf's Webden

The Webden on WordPress

Choices, Choices, Choices

For sometime now, I’ve been consuming a daily diet of “feeds” from all round the web. Getting regular updates of everything from technical stories to theology to what friends are thinking about (and contributing my own musings) is great and I think it’s one of the most exciting aspects about where the technology has got to.

Over the course of that time, I’ve tried a number of different “newsreaders” and “aggregators” that let me bring information from numerous places (about 60 regulars at last count!) into one place via the magic of Really Simple Syndication (RSS). As you’d expect, it’s not really Really Simple but it’s simple enough that it’s not hard and getting easier all the time.

My particular requirement is for an online newsreader. I’d tried a few desktop programs but that meant all the stories I’d read at work were still flagged as unread at home and vice versa. Since, as a web developer, I’m online at work and I’ve got broadband at home, a web-based service that would remember every visit would be ideal. I’ve now tried three:

  1. Bloglines: This is a well established player in the field. It hasn’t got the most visually stunning interface but remains unobtrusive while giving plenty of control over what you read. The main reason I looked elsewhere is that one or two of my feeds weren’t updating properly but I still use Bloglines to provide the blogroll down the side of my site.
  2. Google Reader: I looked into this on recommendation from a friend’s blog. It’s very slick and makes good use of some of the AJAX technologies I’m interested in at the moment to provide a great looking user interface. I prefer the look to Bloglines but it seems to be lacking some key feed management features, like marking all new entries as read once you’ve skimmed the ones that interest you. Again, I had some problems with one of the feeds – that’s probably inevitable with any system but it prompted me to do some more searching.
  3. Rojo: Apparently, Rojo stands for “RSS with Mojo” and I think that’s a fair title. I’ve been using this for only a few days so it’s a bit early to give it the highest recommendation but it’s certainly edging towards pole position in my list. It has got all the tools to manage my reading that Bloglines gives, some of the cool new ideas (like being able to tag feeds and even individual posts) and so far seem reliable.

If you’re looking for an online newsreader, try all three (and there are more out there if you want to go the whole hog). However, Rojo is flavour of the month for me, so definitely include that in your tests!

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