Bloglines, Newzcrawler… and the new Google Reader

blogging, communication tools, google, search engines, technology

A few weeks ago, I already started transitioning all of my feeds off of Bloglines. Why?
– It’s slow.
– It’s down too often.
– Reorganizing feeds (moving them to different folders, etc.) is worse than being stuck in a closet with Vanna White. Night after night after night after night.
– It’s similarly painful to mark just a few articles in a feed as read or unread.

I’ve moved over to Newzcrawler, a stellar newsreader app for Windows. Beyond just tons of cool power features, it also lets me pretty easily sync my feeds between my desktop and laptop using an external FTP site (okay, geeky, I know).

* * *

With that said, I’ve still been hoping to see some vast improvements in the online-reader front. Rojo seems to be getting better. And I’ve heard rumblings over other cool services as well. When I learned today that Google had entered this space, I was extremely excited. Please, I thought, give us another Gmail. Or Maps! 😀 If not for me, at least for my less-geeky friends whom I’m dying to get into feed reading.

So far, alas, I’m rather disappointed in the Google Reader. I know it’ll get better, but for now, Googlers…

1) It’s too cluttered and overwhelming.
Hide some stuff. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but blog text blends into all the other text and I find it just tiring to spend more than a few minutes in Reader.

2) No mouseovers?!

3) Ambiguities
Is “Read items” a description or an action? Okay, admittedly this is rather a nitpick, but it is a top-line link ;-).

4) Search what?!
When I see a search box at the top of the page, I expect to be able to search the content-in-context. In other words, if I’m in my Gmail account, I expect to search my mail. If I’m in Reader, I expect to search for a string in my read and/or unread feed items. From an expected user-action standpoint, what’s likely to be more common: adding new feeds, or working with the feeds one already has?

5) Save me from overload!
There’s no way to mark an entire feed as read. Or group of feeds.

6) Why the weird quasi-breadcrumbs in center focus?!
Why do I want to see “New Subscription” “New Subscription” article article article… Just show me new articles. If I want to see what I’m subscribed to, I’ll go to the Your Subscriptions tab! 🙂

* * *

Other quick suggestions/observations:
– Add a space in “Subscriptions(#)” to make it “Subscriptions (#)”
– Include a shortcut key to go to the pulldown menus. Actually, quit using HTML-style pulldown menus as action-triggers. It’s not good UI, IMHO, and it’s confusing when more than one says “More actions…” (plus with more than one on a page, that sort of makes it hard to use a keyboard shortcut)
– Allow for the multi-selection (and from there, tagging) of feeds.
– Include a feedback link directly on the Reader page.
– Enable us to see ALL articles from a given feed in one fell swoop (ala Bloglines)
– Let us easily sort, reposition, edit, and delete labels and sets of labels.
– BUG: I unsubscribed from a feed, it’s outta my list, but I’m still seeing items for it.
– Gimme feed icons, please! When I have 200+ feeds, it’s how I can most easily spot some of my favs 🙂
– Dim links if they’re not applicable (e.g., dim the Page Up link if I’m already at the top)
– I tagged an entry. How do I search for it by tag now? (I only see how I can filter feed tags)

* * *

Okay, let me be a LITTLE less of a jerk here and note what I *DO* like about Reader:
– Keyboard shortcuts! 🙂
– Ease of adding new feeds (by keyword, by title, by URL… very flexible!)
– Nice how the filter narrows as I type! (but it’d be even nicer if ESC cleared it)
– Pretty fast (excepting the short time earlier today when it was first released)

* * *

Anyway, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Google rapidly works on this beta, giving it top resources… rotating in seasoned PMs / APMs, providing needed equipment for scalability and so on. For now, though, I’ll happily stick with Newzcrawler, and — admittedly grudgingly — suggest that my newbie friends start off with Bloglines for now.

3 comments… add one
  • RichB Oct 9, 2005

    You’re lucky. Mine still says “Loading” after 2 days. I’ve exited my browser several times and it’s still the same

  • hk Oct 10, 2005

    Hey Adam,

    I share some of your complaints.  Is it just me, or is the general use case for a reader to just be able to read all your blogs from one spot?  That seems to be what Bloglines does best, but that functionality isn’t there in the Google Reader.  It’s there in Rojo, but you have to set a particular mode.

    I’m not really too familiar with how other people use RSS aggregators, so I was just curious.

  • SEO Florida Aug 11, 2008

    Bloglines works very well.

What do you think?