- Web based
I’m sure that a lot of people have their own opinions about what makes a good feed reader, but the following are important:
- Scheduled updates
- Multiple views
- Feed subscription from your webbrowser
- Reads RSS 1 & 2 and Atom
- Import/export of OPML
Scheduled updates make it unnecessary to manually update your feeds, which is probably a good thing if you’ve got quite a few; some feed readers allow you to set update rates on individual feeds, which might seem a bit like overkill, but can go some way to helping you manage your time. Multiple views are essential because people are not the same, and different people like different ways of viewing feeds. People will appreciate being presented with the option of subscribing to a feed in their personal reader when they click on a feed in their webbrowser — it certainly beats copy/paste. Since there are a few standards for feeds out there, it’s nice to support the core standards, these are currently RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0 and Atom. Once you’ve got feeds running you’ll want to take them with you when you change computer, change software, and for this OPML support is essential (be aware that some import/export isn’t quite as easy as you’d expect).
Choosing a reader
Most users will be happy with basic functionality, including import, export, management and reading with their preferred view. In this respect, most people will be satisfied with an online feed reader. Given the “2.0” nature of news feeds, you’d wonder that there was a market for non-web-based offerings, but specialist users may be interested functions that are only available in a few of the standalone packages.Features that will become increasingly popular include those that help reduce the time spent filtering out relevant information. Technologies such as APML (Attention Profiling Mark-up Language) will become absolutely essential for many, but there are as yet few feed readers that have stated that they will support this open standard; those that have include NewsGator and Bloglines.A quick look at the extensive table of feed readers at Aggcompare will make it amply apparent that there are many different options to choose among, so you need to make a few choices before starting to look:
- What operating system(s) do you have?
- Do you want to pay for extra functionality/support?
- Do you want to be able to access your feeds from multiple computers?
- Do you care if you see advertising when reading your feeds?
- Do you want sound/video/media functionality?
Answering these questions will help you reduce the number of options drastically. Which one should you choose? I’ll tell you in another post….