On a comment in my recent item on NewsGator Inbox and GreatNews, Brad Feld suggested I have a look at NewsGator's stand alone reader, FeedDemon. And, since I purchased NewsGator for Outlook many moons ago, I still have an active account. (This is why I keep checking how NewsGator is doing.)
With the big power of NewsGator being the portability of feeds across platforms, I just had to tell FeedDemon who I was, and it was able to synchronize with the feeds I have sitting at NewsGator online. Very nice. However, from spending a day with FeedDemon a few minutes at a time, I am not inclined to stick with it. Some personal impressions below - feel free to correct anything I've gotten wrong or otherwise missed.
- There are keyboard shortcuts for most common navigation operations.
- However, my most common operation of reading items cannot be accomplished with ONE keyboard shortcut (preferably the space bar). Within a folder or feed, the space bar will scroll me through items. However, when I want to go to the next unread folder (or feed), space bar doesn't do it. I have to hit Ctrl-G to go to the next folder (not the next unread folder), or Ctrl-Shift-J to got to the next unread feed. Oh, and if I'm reading a folder, I have to mark it as read first. These are not things that make my reading experience seamless.
- There is an "unread folder" view that only shows you folders and feeds that have unread items. This makes navigation a little more pleasant when you have the 300+ feeds that I have. Using this and the mark-read keystroke almost gets me complete keyboard navigation of unread materials.
- As I have discovered with GreatNews, FeedDemon lets you shift between a "river of news" view and an "email view." Interestingly, when I'm viewing a folder, the "news item view" is empty. One has to select an individual feed for this mode to work in FeedDemon. And in this mode, one can use the space bar to see each unread item individually. Why can't that work everywhere the same way?
- As with GreatNews, if I click on a folder or feed in the navigation area, I need to click back into the news area before the space bar-to-scroll will work. At least with FeedDemon, there is a better indication that the navigation pane has the focus.
- I'd like it if FeedDemon / NewsGator allowed me to set different synchronization periods on every folder it knows about. Since the folders are centrally maintained, this would imply additional coordination. (If folders aren't sync'ed, FeedDemon lets you set the update frequency or turn it off completely.)
- I like the idea of Watches (saved searches over my feeds). Both FeedDemon and GreatNews has them, and one could set up a "watch" in NewsGator Inbox with an Outlook search folder. Unfortunately, the Watches one can create in FeedDemon do not include the capability to immediately mark those items as read. As with GreatNews, it is not possible to set a watch on a category (probably because categories are not uniformly implemented in news feeds).
- Moving and deleting feeds is a little slow, due to synchronization with NewsGator online. If I'm not connected, I am unable to do any feed maintenance. (I can unsubscribe and rename feeds, just nothing else that might affect the sync'ed subscriptions.)