November 23rd, 2003 Comments Off on Bloglines

After seeing some positive reviews (1, 2) , I finally persuaded myself to try Bloglines, a centralized RSS aggregator. I never liked this kind of Web aggregators, but I decided to give it a try to see what the fuss was all about.

Well, after a few minutes, I realized Bloglines was the same old thing. And I still don’t like Web aggregators.

Firstly, I don’t like Web interfaces. Bloglines’ GUI is too simple, and that’s the problem. Things are missing. I mean, even the simplest standalone aggregator has more options than Bloglines. It’s not a matter of what can’t be done in a Web interface. It’s a matter of what was not done. For example, SharpReader, the aggregator I use (or used to use, since it simply stopped working in my box at work), has a nice feature that relates similar posts and links. And it does it using only you own blogroll. Bloglines, which has access to many more blogs, could do something similar, but I didn’t found anylink like that there. Maybe it’s something they will still implement, but I miss it now. And the GUI is still too simple. I need something as sophisticated as Oddpost, for instance.

Secondly, the interface doesn’t work well. For example, I clicked at a category and it marked all the blogs below as read, without asking me anything about it. The category had about 30 blogs under it, comprising hundreds of posts. How can I find what has been modified if it simply marks them all as read?

Thirdly, it’s slow. Obviously, it knows what blogs have been update much faster than a standalone aggregator since this work is centralized, but the GUI is slow. When you want to see all unread posts in a big category it takes a while for the HTML to be downloaded and rendered. I’d rather wait more to download the feed than wait to read them.

I could point other problems, but those aforementioned are enough to prevent me from using the service. I also think that they won’t be able to keep up with the bandwidth requirement and will start charging for the service soon. Although they can charge just for additional services, I don’t think the basic service is featured enough to compensate.

In short, I will keep SharpReader. Although I need to configure it in any machine I use, and keep too aggregators for Linux and Windows, it’s worth the troube since I get more added value from them.

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