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Bradbury Software FeedDemon 1.0

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In: Reviews > Product Reviews

By Paul Scrivens

Published on May 26, 2004

FeedDemon logo A couple of weeks ago I was in search of an RSS Reader because my ability to visit all my favorite Web sites, to check if they were updated, began to conflict with the mere 24 hours that come in a day. When asking people what RSS Reader to check out, many people immediately said NetNewsWire, but this was ruled out since it was an OSX application and I was running a Windows Desktop. The next most popular choice was FeedDemon, made by Bradbury Software.

Bradbury Software is a one man shop run by Nick Bradbury. It is amazing to see software of this quality come from just one individual. The test machine used with the software was an Athlon XP 2000+ with 1024MB RAM running on Windows XP.

Installation

When installing new software there can sometimes be a little hesitancy from the user due to fear of the unknown. Once you have the software installed the question becomes: what do you do next? I remember I was left with that feeling the first time I installed Abobe's Photoshop. Well, FeedDemon does something that I have never experienced before during an application's installation: it gives what is probably the most concise and quick tutorial that one could imagine.

Before you even begin using the application, the welcome screens run you through what each section of the interface is for. These sections include Channel Groups, Watches and News Bins, Newspapers, and the Channels (news feeds). Once you enter the application, you will already feel familiar with the interface and quickly be able to begin. This is great because many people are still unaware of the power of RSS and it is nice for an application to assume the user is at a beginner's level. This mini-tutorial can easily be skipped over by more advanced users.

Interface

The FeedDemon interface is customizable in that it allows you to go with either two or three columns. For this review I decided to stick with two columns as it provided the familiarity that I am used to with Microsoft Outlook. This is a major strong point in the interface because, at a quick glance, you would think that FeedDemon is Outlook—so the intimidation factor is quickly reduced to zero.

The highlight of the interface is the integrated browser and how seamlessly it blends in with the rest of the application. What makes the browser so great is that it has the capability to open new windows in tabs. This feature alone makes FeedDemon more useful than IE as a Web browser. Another neat feature with the browser is the ability to change stylesheets and, if you do not like the default ones, you can go to the FeedDemon Newspaper Styles page to download more.

After installation, the interface is pretty simple, allowing any user to get started quickly. If you desire a little more power, there are a multitude of options from which to choose. I decided to avoid using the internal browser and have all links redirected to my browser of choice, Firefox.

FeedDemon interface

Managing Feeds

While browsing, if you happen upon a Web site that has a news feed, a small icon appears, allowing you to automatically add the feed to your channel group. I do wish the icon appeared next to the others for the browser, but this does not detract from the software in any way. An interesting side effect to this icon appearing is that you really do get a sense of how many sites are adopting RSS technology.

All of your individual feeds are gathered together in a Channel Group. You have the option of setting the whole channel group to update every X hours or you can individually decide when each channel will update.

Each channel group is updated separately and only when you select it from the drop-down menu. Initially I was bothered by this since I thought it would be best if all the channels updated at once, but once you start to get 50 channels over 3 different channel groups you realize the benefits of separation.

Once a channel is updated and a news item appears, the left column bolds the site with a number showing how many new items are in the channel since your last visit. This makes it easy just to leave the application open and return to it later to find out what has been updated. This is similar to the way Outlook handles new mail in folders.

FeedDemon gives you the ability to filter and group the news items to suit your preferences. You can also select, if you wish, to email or blog a certain news item using your program of choice. This proved useful to me as I was able to filter news items by author; I could keep track of the amount of news items each Forever Geek author had posted over a specific time period.

Another great feature is the use of Watches and News Bins. These allow you to search news for keywords and collect it automatically. News Bins lets you collect individual news items for later referral, while Watches acts more like virtual folders, letting you search current news for keywords. The search has the ability to integrate with Feedster, allowing for even greater search power within your feeds.

One of the major drawbacks in this version of FeedDemon is the lack of support for the Atom protocol. However, since very few sites use only this protocol, this should not deter you from giving the software a try. In fact, the fast-approaching 1.10 version supports Atom so this will not be an issue for much longer.

Summary

FeedDemon does an excellent job of sticking to what it is supposed to do and that is to help you manage all of your XML/RSS feeds. Through the familiar, easy-to-use interface, any user should have no problem quickly diving in and starting to use the software.

A free trial version is available for download.

FeedDemon 1.0
full version: $29.95

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Paul Scrivens is the CTO of Business Logs. In his spare time he can be found writing at Whitespace and lurking in the CSS Vault.

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