The State of Online Feed Readers – An Addendum

My pappy used to say, “You’ve got to crawl before you can walk.” Ok, I don’t have a pappy, I have a Dad. Truth be told, he never used to tell me that.

But it was a good way for me to introduce my point. When it comes to the state of online feed readers, it is important to support the basics before advanced features. If you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter how flashy the system is, it simply won’t succeed.

A couple of weeks back, Frank Gruber did some homework to put together a rather comprehensive comparison of web based feed readers. It received rave reviews and mad linkage from around the blogosphere. I’m compelled to cast a quick analytical eye towards it though. Not in challenging his findings, which I tend to agree with. Instead, I think a couple of basic yet critical elements were left out of his analysis.

What Needs to be Included Going Forward
Note: All three elements I’d suggest to be included in ongoing analysis stem from my 5 ways to improve web based feed readers.

The Basics

  • Easier Feed Subscription – Bottom line, if I can’t do a quick subscribe to a feed using your system, I’m not going to use it. Half of the systems reviewed fail that test. Bloglines, Rojo, Pluck, and Newsgator pass it. No reader is good enough to have to copy and paste in a feed URL.

  • Easier Feed Management – In the past, I actually used a desktop reader to prune and organize my feeds. It’s now drastically easier to do so using Rojo. But compare that to Attensa Online. Attensa has a great UI. I actually would be willing to give them a chance but importing my feeds is a nightmare. After import, I need to select all the feeds from my OPML file that I want to subscribe to – that’s pretty annoying considering I read about 150 feeds. Deleting feeds is equally as difficult.


A Nice Feature

  • Easier Way to Track Read Feeds – Besides tagging or flagging an item of a feed, I want a page that shows all the articles I’ve read. With the amount of stuff I read on a day-to-day basis I don’t want to be bothered with clipping or starring an item, I want read items to automatically be saved for me. FeedLounge and Rojo does that.

I just saw that John Tropea gave some feedback too. Glad someone else is thinking critically besides me. Here are a couple items from John I found particularly interesting:

– River of News
– Sub-folders
– Filter a feed
– Search feeds