RSS sucks

RSS sucks
: RSS doesn’t suck. RSS has great potential. But every RSS reader I have tried sucks botulism.

Newzcrawler just died one day and took the many painful hours I put into creating my RSS feeds with it; and when it worked, it was needlessly geeky and complex. Snarf died less than an hour after I started using it and won’t come back to life. NewsGator wants to mess up my Outlook and I don’t want to do that; I need Outlook for work. CleverCactus looks neat but it’s way too hard to add a simple feed. NewsRoom says dire things about needing to install different MS XML versions or the world will blow up. Oddpost just added RSS to its mail client (why does anyone thing that RSS and mail have anything to do with each other? the days of usenet are long over!); it’s even too complex to work with. And so on and so on.

ARRRGH!!!

RSS is great. It’s world-changing. It can bring information to any device anywhere; it can lead to new, dynamic searches; it can change the way information is served to its public.

But none of that will happen as long as the clients are over-geeked, overcomplicated messes.

All I want is an RSS reader that checks the blogs I read regularly and tells me when they’ve been updated and then lets me read them in a browser where I usually read them. When I want to add a new feed to my reader, it should be as simple as one click or, at most, one cut-and-paste (in some of these clients, you have to go through six to 10 steps just to add a feed).

I want to tell my bosses and colleagues about the wonders of RSS and XML and how it will change the world. But if I show them the state of the art as it exists, they will hoot me halfway to Indiana.

I wish the RSS gurus would stop snarking at each other about how funky their feeds are and get their acts together to create a browser-friendly (and I mean Internet Explorer friendly!) client that is ready for prime time!

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    Feedreader? I like it and it’s pretty simple.

  • Mike Polak

    Awasu.
    It just works. See http://www.awasu.com/

  • button

    Try checking out Jane’s
    http://www.davidjanes.com

  • http://www.mirrashidi.com Payam Mirrashidi

    You weren’t specific about platforms so I’ll chime in with my recommendation for NetNewsWire for Mac OS X. It doesn’t suck. It has a simple interface and allows tasks to be performed easily. Plus, it has a decent blog client for creating and posting entries that supports all the major blogging applications.

  • http://www.electricvenom.com Venomous Kate

    Jeff, try SharpReader. It’s free and intuitive, and I think you’ll like both the Outlook-style interface as well as the autodiscovery abilities when you type a URL into the reader’s address bar.

  • http://www.aylwardfamily.com Kevin Aylward

    Second that on SharpReader. You can drag and drop a feed link into it or just type in the blog URL. The three pane Outlook interface is great. You can set it up to pop a IE window open on all links.
    I tried almost all of them. This one I can be productive with… You can customize the refresh by feed or folder. What I really like is that at the folder level it sumarizes all the posts below… This is great for checking multiple feeds in one spot…

  • John

    Try Klipfolio 2.1

  • darwin

    You forgot Amphetadesk, which has a curious lack of “mark as read” making the entire thing an exercise in scroll..
    =darwin

  • http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite Patrick Nielsen Hayden

    NetNewsWire does everything you’re asking for, with a clean, sensible interface.

  • http://paulfrankenstein.org/ Frankenstein

    I third that vote for NetNewsWire. It’s actually changed the way I use the web.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Afraid I have Windows. NetNewsWire won’t work for me. Are they ever going to port it over?

  • http://www.fecesflingingmonkey.com Mike Jackmin

    I’ll second the vote for Awasu.
    It’s not perfect, but it is pretty good – you can see the RSS feeds in a tasteful html environment (including pictures and links if they are included) and you can easily open a page or post of interest in a real browser window, either within Awasu’s own frame, or externally.
    Honestly, my biggest complaint with RSS is that it works too well - I just can’t keep up with all that I want to read. The more you use RSS, the more blogs you monitor, the more your brain starts to pool at your feet. It’s kinda cool, actually…

  • http://www.rassoc.com/gregr/weblog Greg Reinacker

    “NewsGator wants to mess up my Outlook and I don’t want to do that; I need Outlook for work”
    Hmm…it won’t mess up Outlook – it’ll just add a toolbar, and store the posts in Outlook. You might give it a try, since you’re an Outlook user.

  • http://www.photodude.com/ PhotoDude

    I’ll second the recommendation for Amphetadesk. I demand an “in-browser-not-Outlook” interface, and Amephetadesk is the only one I’ve found that works for me. It’s not all prettified, it’s lacking some features (like the “mark read” already mentioned), but it’s performed flawlessly for me. Within a tabbed Mozilla browser, it’s pretty user friendly.

  • darwin

    photodude, I tried sharp reader and it owns Amphetadesk.
    =darwin
    former Amphetadesk user.

  • http://www.unfogged.com ogged

    Haven’t used some of the others, but I did try Awasu, Feedreader, and Amphetadesk, but NewsGator has been by far the best. I totally rely on Outlook, but have Newsgator installed at work and home, with no problems.

  • http://www.deadparrots.net Ryan

    I’ve tried Awasu, FeedReader, AmphetaDesk and several others, but I still prefer Syndirella. It makes me very happy. Couldn’t do without it. (Would love NetNewsWire, I assume, but I too am on PC only.)
    I have not tried SharpReader yet, but I will. The thing I like most about Syndirella is that I can simply hit the space bar and it advances through unread posts, across all my feeds. VERY efficient.

  • Fish Are Not People

    I’ll tell you this much.
    I’m fairly intelligent, pretty sharp around a computer, and an excellent web searcher. And I recall it took long, painstaking work some time back just to figure out what the hell “RSS” and “XML” meant in the first place. There was one night that stands out in particular, spending way too much time on Google just trying to find a simple explanation. I recall finally finding a site that some guy had set up outlining the basics — with a message up top that said in effect, “I instituted this page because I remember how frustrated I was just trying to learn what RSS means.”
    Additionally, I think part of my confusion stemmed from the fact that the people involved in this technology quite clumsily chose the term “syndicate” — as in “RSS is a program that syndicates news.” That’s extraordinarily confusing, because the word “syndicate” already has a very specific meaning in the world of news and journalism, one to which RSS has no resemblance.
    If these folks want to get RSS and XML off the ground, they could start by getting rid of the word “syndicate” — it’s already taken, y’all! — and giving the programs names that don’t sound like arcane, impenetrable NASA jargon.
    Sorry for the testy tone. I’m just finally venting the frustration from that time back when.
    Ahhh. Much better.

  • http://www.emergic.org Rajesh Jain

    Take a look at our RSS-to-IMAP service at http://rss.blogstreet.com. You create a separate IMAP account in your email client, and can read all the feeds in the email client.

  • http://www.blogmatrix.com David Janes

    Hi Jeff,
    Is this (http://www.blogmatrix.com/blogtrack?url=http://www.buzzmachine.com) what you’re looking for? Hit the “checkpoint” button when you’re finished reading and only the most recent blog updates will be shown. Send me a note if you have further questions.
    This also checks blogs without RSS feeds!
    Regards, etc…
    David
    http://blog.davidjanes.com
    http://www.blogmatrix.com

  • http://radio.weblogs.com/0110648/ steve

    I’ve tried Awasu, Snyderilla, Newsreader and Amphetadesk — of those I like Awasu best, but none of them hold a candle to NetNewsWire … Mac OS X, but easily the best thing out there.