Friday, October 07, 2005

Google Has Done It Again With Google Reader

Today I read an article about Google Reader which allows you to read RSS and XML feeds, so I have been trying it out for the past couple of hours and it is great.

Google always seems to take a service or feature of the internet and take it to another level and Google Reader is no exception.

As a matter of fact and personal opinion, I am almost of the opinion that in order to avoid a learning curve or a relearning curve, you may want to wait until Google releases their version of whatever feature or service you have been accustomed to using with anything involving the internet.

Previously I have blogged about various RSS readers and now Google Reader has gone way beyond what was currently available.

Google Reader basically allows you to have access to RSS feeds on any computer that has internet access.  Although Pluck does the same thing, Google Reader has taken a few of the features found within Gmail and applied them to Google Reader.

Using Google Reader as an experienced user and reader of RSS feeds requires that you look at your feeds from either a time-based reader across all of the feeds that you have versus looking at an individual RSS feed.  You can look at feeds either way however:  time-based according to when the articles, news, blogs, and other content was originally published; or within the available content within a single RSS feed.

It took a little while to realize that these options were available and as a result, I was able to catch up on RSS feeds that I had not really read in a while.

One feature that basically has to be considered a given and not an option for any RSS reader is the capability to import RSS feeds.  Google Reader does this (while using your exported file with an OPML file extension) without any problems, but I did not see anything to inform me that the importing was complete.  I had to go to the home page of Google Reader and go back into the various feeds to see them all.

I had another OPML file (that contains all of the feeds I had previously subscribed to) that I wanted to import that had feeds the first OPML file did not have, but I did not see whether they were ever imported after several attempts.  Pluck and most other RSS readers would have imported them while creating unwanted duplicates RSS feeds.  I have created folders and given the folders dated names within Pluck to avoid this however.

Pluck includes any images within the brief synopis of the news and content and then you can click on a link to go to the original article.  Since I use Firefox, I was able to do go to the original webpage of the article within another tab versus another window which saves monitor screen space.

There was a nice feature that I know will help anyone who uses a growing range of services offered by Google.  You can immediately blog about any article that is located and the HTML code is automatically placed within the blog for you.  You must be using Blogger for your blog however.

Overall, I give Google Reader a big thumbs up (5 thumbs up actually).  There are already a few features that I would like to see added however.

The panel on the left which lists the subject of each article needs to be able to be enlarged to see the full subject title.

The same panel needs to be able to display all of the subject titles at one time as well or there should be something that labels the view of the entire page as either a time-based view of all feeds or within a single feed.  Scrolling the subject titles versus using the top, up, down,  refresh links or keystroke options would be a nice plus as well.

I just switched over to a tab where Google Reader is still open and just saw that it does indeed indicate that the subject titles are found within a single feed.  I just clicked something (although I do not remember what it was--oh, it is called a reading list) that provides the time-based list of subject titles across all RSS feeds.  So one requested feature is already there although, changing the color of the text may help or calling it a view of either the time-based or single feed.

I know that there are more features to be discovered when looking at the tutorial for Google Reader.  But you know that most men do not look at the manual until the new tool or toy does not work by any means.

Google Reader basically is going to make a lot easier for new people to get turned to readding  RSS feeds versus having news sent to their e-mail inboxes or going to multiple websites hoping to find something of interest.  This is the biggest benefit of Google Reader.  If I discover something that is going to improve the process with Google Reader , I will let you know.

Another thing that I would like to seee not only from Google but most other portal mega-services companies (Yahoo is the other one that immediately comes to mind) is a better way to avoid having to log in multiple times when using a service that the parent company offers.

I know that with new acquisitions there will be a delay in allowing for a single log in, but when various services have been under the same umbrella for 90 days there should be no excuse.  Every service that uses a basic Google Account requires multiple log ins to my knowledge.

I know that I will enjoy the day when this is no longer the case.  But if you have been wondering what the hype is about regarding RSS and XML feeds, read any of the blog articles mentioned above and definitely include Google Reader when choosing a RSS reader.  Until someone improves the RSS reading mousetrap, Google Reader is the clearly best one on the block.

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