Sunday, February 12, 2006

Windows Feed Aggregators

After careful consideration, I have come to the decision that RSS/Atom readers on Windows all suck. Actually, SharpReader isn't too bad, but it necessitates a 30MB .NET runtime download if you don't already have it. Based on our experience deploying Paragent Manage in the wild, .NET just isn't widely deployed even now.

Why all this interest in an RSS aggregator now? We are evaluating some future development using a web-based model, and want to allow our users to get timely information through RSS feeds. I wanted to see if there were some good RSS readers that our users could use. All of them are just overkill for our needs:
  1. A small, self-contained executable that runs in the system tray
  2. An icon that changes to indicate the severity of new items
  3. a context menu that lists the new items
  4. pop toast on new entries
That is pretty much it. All the readers we know about use a three-pane email style interface that allow for reading all entries within the reader itself. For showing alerts, this is overkill. Once we have these features, we are not far from my personal ideal news reader. Add the following, and I would use for all my feed needs:
  • a simple interface for managing feeds
  • a very simple display of all the current items with their descriptions
So, I have been working on a new aggregator. Watch this space...

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