Saturday, July 15, 2006

Review: NewsFire--best Mac RSS Aggregator

For Mac users: NewsFire is my favorite tool for browsing RSS web feeds (including blogs, news sites, podcasts). It's from Dave Wattanabe, a Mac developer who has done a series of absolute gems (including CoverFlow that brings to iTunes the lost pleasure of flipping through album covers)

Let me get one annoying item out of the way first, NewsFire is nagware. Obnoxiously so. For me, it was well worth the twenty bucks Dave is charging, but I'll bet he'd get a lot more buyers if he toned down the nags.

On to the good stuff: have it your way and switch at whim. Want a flat list of articles? (what Dave Winer calls a "river of news"or conveyor-belt sushi)--or do you prefer folders (a la Scoble)? NewsFire lets you switch at a click.

You can even set up smart feeds that aggregate feeds based on any criteria you want—source, date, title, content, keywords. The NewsFire "river of news" is actually a pre-defined smart feed called "New items" which aggregates all new items into a single list. You can sort by time or by feed. Easy. Powerful. It's a floor wax. It's a dessert topping.

Setting up your own smart feeds is similar to making a smart playlist in iTunes. Add as many criteria as you need. Choose "match any" or "match all" and you're done.

For example, I work for a company that makes a DVR. I have a DVR folder that pulls in any mention of DVR, PVR, or any of our major competitors. When I click the folder, I can view by time or by source with a simple click.

Clicking through to an article will open a new tab in Firefox or Safari behind the newsreader.

Current release is 1.3, but Dave has just put up a beta of 1.4 which includes the ability to watch videos within the newsreader.

(Meanwhile, on the Technorati Weblog, Kevin Marks says, surprise, that Technorati will serve both river fans and folder fans.)

BTW, if Windows users want a peek at Dave's style, check out the beta of his instant search site, Inquisitor.

(tags: bloggosphere, RSS)


Anonymous said...

thanks for the review. very informative.