Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

9Jun/09Off

Not Exactly A Review…

The developer of NewzJournal was nice enough to ask me to take a look at his Windows feed reader in the comments attached to a post from years ago. The requirements specifically state Windows Vista as a requirement for installation (I think due to .Net requirements) but given the fact that I think Vista is completely unneccessary for anything I went ahead and installed it on my work XP machine. The environment is pretty bare since I think of the Windows box as a pretty wrapper around gpedit, services.msc, regedit, and mstsc and don't actually use it for much other than a couple of work applications that I scarcely touch unless they're broken. Now that I've painted myself into a corner with disclaimers, here's what I thought.

NewzJournal is really, really basic for a feed reader. You won't find a lot of extra stuff other than subscribe, delete, and a couple of preferences you can monkey with. Interface wise, the reading panel really needs to be turned on by default. If I need to double click something to see it in a feed reader I've spent nearly as much effort as I would opening a new tab in a browser. When you do enable the third pane then NJ starts to look more like an application. Adding subscriptions is also pretty straightforward: you plug in a URL, it does its discovery song and dance, and you save it under x name. That works very well. There is also an import/export function for OPML. I had nothing to import since I tend to do that manually when setting up a new reader but I did export a copy of the OPML for the five or so feeds I'd subscribed to and successfully imported them into Liferea with no isssues. Another strangely missing feature is the ubiquitous 'update all' button that most readers usually place within easy reach. The only way that I was able to find to update subscribed feeds was via a right click context menu -- there isn't a menu entry to handle either individual feeds or the entire list of feeds. I'm not sure if that is a showstopper for many people but it would make me hesitate before pulling in a huge list of feeds. Again, at that point, I'm probably better off using a browser than a reader. I also noticed that the application seemed pretty unresponsive at times as was the case when trying to add a subscription from the button on the upper left side of the main window. After three attempts I just moved over to the drop down menus and did it that way. This might also be related somehow to the mysterious Vista requirement and versions of the .Net libraries but I didn't get that far.

The good:

It's free

It does feed discovery pretty well and without too much craziness. It only failed to find a feed for the Gentoo website out of the ten or twelve that I tried to pull in.

It's a pretty reasonable and simple feed reader once you configure some sane settings through the application preferences.

It handles the import and export of OPML well. I'm not a Windows developer so I dunno if this has more to do with existing libraries than stupid coding tricks so bear that in mind.

The not so good:

Not only Windows-only but Vista only. Regardless of whether or not it will actually run is immaterial.

Intermittantly unresponsive UI that doesn't give feedback when parts of it aren't working.

Frustrating update controls. Updating all of your feeds in a oneshot isn't an option.

Here's a screenshot. It's pretty basic:

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