Duncan Riley> long term readers will know that I’ve been griping about the reliability of Bloglines since before it was an Ask Jeeves company, and although I’m the first to admit that its ok as we speak, it seems to have a regular pattern of outages, and although they seem to be 1 week in every month I wouldn’t dare draw parallel’s with any thing else that springs to mind.
Anyhow, as much as old habits die hard, I’ve been experimenting with some alternative RSS readers. I’m not going to cover them all, and at this stage I’m still using Bloglines but spending some spare time, may be 1 per week, checking out the competition, but I finally found a competing web-based RSS reader that goes close to Bloglines, and its one I haven’t even got a button for on any of my blogs!
First impressions, Rojo is clean and simple to navigate. The front page will throw you a bit at first, but navigate to sign up for an account.
Like most readers these days, they will allow you to import your feeds from another site. It takes about 30 seconds to export your feed list from say Bloglines and import it into Rojo. Unlike some of the other sites I’ve been testing, Rojo imported them without any changes or new sub-directories…it was just plain simple, and it worked.
Rojo is also Bloglines-like in many ways, and that’s probably what I liked about it the most. You’ve got your category folders on the left with your feeds in each one. You can read the whole category or click and read one feed. The feed’s content presents on the right. Simple, practical, but most of important of all, quick. I did feel however that it wasn’t as quick as Bloglines when you click on a feed, but it certainly wasn’t a long wait. Some of the other sites tested where terribly slow, Rojo is going to meet your needs without a problem in terms of speed.
The site comes packed with a few extra’s, and tags would be the most significant feature, and also the most annoying feature. A box is inserted for every story that allows you to tag every post in every feed. Some people are really into tags, I’m not. Having said that though it was annoying without being a deal breaker.
The other thing that annoyed me, and this might seem minor but it is a deal breaker, is that when I click on a feed the number of posts in the feed remains, i.e. when I click on a feed in Bloglines the number new posts in that feed disappears, so I know I’ve read it, in Rojo it doesn’t, you’ve got to click on a button to say “mark all feeds as read”. Also if I got back to a feed it presents all the recent posts, not just the new ones ( the last 10 I think). I like the fact that Bloglines shows you only the new entries, its hard enough sometimes to remember what I’ve already read without having to see the stuff again in front of me. Bloglines give you the option to display feeds going back over time at the bottom of each feed if I need to check the archives, Rojo doesn’t, they are all displayed by default.
If Rojo fixes this, I’ll be coming back for some more. Can I recommend it? well not everyone uses a feed reader the same way I do. It works nicely and if tags are your thing then this is a killer online tool. For me, I need some tweaks, but don’t let that stop you checking it out.
I’m curious to know if you’ve had a chance to check out SearchFox?
Never heard of it, I’ll have to go and take a look.
I use Rojo and the speed problems can be fixed very quickly (if you are a Firefox user) by adding this script http://www.connectedinternet.co.uk/blog/_archives/2005/8/26/1172000.html.
For me it’s the best reader out there if you want to read a lot of feeds
I haven’t tried many of these online agregators, as I use the one on my computer mainly, but Rojo is so far the one I’ve preferred, much more than Bloglines. I’m not sure exactly why, perhaps the ease of navigation. I don’t use it too often, though, only when I can’t access the web from my own computer, which doesn’t happen very often, so it’s more like a tool I’ll use occasionally, and I won’t “swear by it”.
Just a note from Rojo to say we appreciate the feedback and are working on both of the areas you raise: an option for marking feeds read upon viewing them and reducing the size of the tag entry window. BTW if you want a Rojo button, here’s how: http://www.rojonetworks.com/Bloggers
One more comment: note that you can select “Show Unread Only” when viewing your feeds, so it will only show new (or “unread”) entries once you’ve marked a feed, or all feeds, as read. This preference stays “on” until you select “Show Read & Unread,” at which point it toggles back to show all stories in a feed (or group of feeds.)
I gave up on Bloglines last week and am slowly weaning myself off a handful of the feeds where I still have archives I gotta read.
I’ve moved over to the Windows-based reader Newzcrawler and I couldn’t be happier. Let me count the ways:
1) Easy to add, delete, AND MOVE feeds.
2) Has support for podcasts, Usenet reading, and more, right out of the box.
3) Fast fast fast fast!
4) Never down.
5) Fairly easily syncs between my home and work computers (and my laptop!)
6) Can mark feeds for reading offline!
7) Can easily mark specific articles as read or unread within a given feed.
8) Not limited to a max of viewing / saving 200 items per feed.
9) Fabulous flexibility, a zillion options… so I can and maintain my feeds the way I want, individually or by group.
10) Amazing support on the company’s forum.
I’ll hopefully blog more about this this weekend, but for now… I’m finally in love with my blog reader, and not just using one that I barely tolerate ;).
P.S. — I have no affiliation with newzcrawler except as a user who paid for a license. :)