Monthly Archives: September 2004

Deciding factors

It’s true that OPML makes your feed subscription list portable–similar to taking your cell phone with you to another provider. However, anyone using a feed reader knows that there is much more valuable metadata that doesn’t readily move from one reader to another (e.g. annotations, flags, etc.). The fact that I had a significant number of flagged posts for subsequent action (e.g. review in more detail, blog about, etc.) in RSS Bandit was holding me back from leaving the feed reader and using Omea Reader exclusively to read feeds. That is, until RSS Bandit (build 1.2.0.117) decided to drop most of my flagged items. Although more than a bit frustrating–I have to recreate my flagged list!–perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. Unfortunately it wasn’t the first time RSS Bandit lost metadata, but it will be the last time…for awhile anyway, until Wolverine is released and I give it a spin.

The following features in Omea Reader (current build 325) have won me over:

  • My previous list, plus:
  • One-click flagging of items, although I would appreciate support for multiple flags (e.g. different colors like Outlook 2003 and/or different label like RSS Bandit – Follow Up, Review, Reply, Read, Forward, Complete, Clear)
  • One-click annotation of items
  • Column configuration support
  • Category assignment support
  • “Views and Categories” view side-by-side with “Feeds” view

So, I’m giving up the following features found in RSS Bandit as I move over to Omea Reader.

  • Tabbed browsing experience that doesn’t obscure feed details (Tools | Options… | Web Browser tab) – HIGH
  • Ability to define default maximum item age (e.g. a day, a week, a month, a quarter, a year, unlimited, etc.) – MEDIUM/HIGH
  • Ability to change font face, size, color, etc., which is useful on a higher resolution screen – MEDIUM
  • Remote, shared storage support (i.e. ability to support UNC, FTP, WebDAV site across client instances (e.g. home reader and work reader)) – MEDIUM
  • Extensible search support (i.e. allow plug-ins for Google, Feedster, etc.) (Tools | Options… | Web Search tab) – MEDIUM
  • Ability to apply a custom stylesheet (XSLT) to the reading pane (Tools | Options… | Feed Items tab) – LOW

The Open links in a new browser window option that Omea Reader provides is almost worse than no option since it literally launches the default browser for the selected link, which means the loss of context in Omea Reader. Just support tabbed browsing within Omea Reader!! This feature is important enough that I’m not completely sold on ditching RSS Bandit; it’s a significant productivity loss.

Update (10/4/2004): Omea Reader 1.0 (build 333) is released. Get your free license today.

There’s a new kid on the block

I’ve been involved in the Omea beta for awhile and was interested to see JetBrain’s announcement concerning a new product, Omea Reader: Omea Reader is a light version of Omea, which includes the news, RSS and Web bookmark functionality. It does not include support for email (Outlook integration), files and tasks. Omea Reader also includes the full range of search and information management functionality of Omea. As a limited time offer valid until January 1, 2005, you can get a permanent license key for Omea Reader for free, just by filling a simple registration form. After that time, Reader may remain free, or may become a commercial product (with a much smaller price than the full version of Omea).

JetBrains is the maker of the popular and powerful Java IDE, IntelliJ; so I know them to be a maker of quality, feature-rich software. (I’ve also talked about their C# refactoring add-in for Visual Studio .NET 2003, ReSharper, here in the past.)

Originally called OmniaMea, Omea Reader software went feature complete on 5/8/2004, and is now received bug fixes, performance enhancements and UI polish) and was interested to see JetBrain’s announcement concerning a new product, Omea Reader (heritage).

Before I start in on the coolness of Omea Reader, I do still plan to keep tabs on RSS Bandit‘s continued development (e.g. Wolverine) even if Omea Reader becomes my feed reader of choice. Dare, Torsten and now Phil are all developers I’ve come to respect, especially Dare. RSS Bandit remains open source with a commercial quality mindset that should serve it extremely well. There is more to a great application than just great UI. RSS Bandit’s footprint on disk and in memory over the long haul is impressive, not by accident but through concerted and sustained effort. In summary, RSS Bandit’s incumbency within my toolbox is easily justified.

Having said that, my “second-first” impression of Omea Reader is extremely positive. (My “first-first” impression was build 315, which crashed on me shortly after I imported my OPML and tried a random user action. The current (beta) build (317) hasn’t failed me, yet.) It’s the little things, too, mostly user experience and UI related that are the most intriguing and smoothing (i.e. compared to minor nits I’ve been tolerating in RSS Bandit):

  • Remembers the state of my feed tree (e.g. what nodes I’ve expanded)
  • Always present on the Taskbar by default
  • More responsive UI overall
  • Combination of RSS/Atom-based content with newsgroup, contact and favorite/bookmark content under a single, reasonably intuitive UI

Next I need to really explore the full functionality of this application then go back to contrast it with RSS Bandit. What’s the same, what is different, what is missing, etc.?? Then I want to compare overall footprint of the software, the data it consumes and supplies, the memory/resource consumption profile, etc. Stay tuned…