Syndirella

January 18, 2003

As most of you know, I'm a news junkie and for a while now I've been searching for a GOOD news aggregator. After an exhaustive search, I believe I've stumbled upon the best one out there. Just a few days ago I was praising the greatness of fyuze, a web-based aggretator. A web-based program was the last thing I was looking for, but it turned out to be the best of those that I tried/read about — until now. Though the new client that I've found takes nothing away from fyuze, I prefer it because 1.) it is more configurable, 2.) it isn't web-based, and 3.) the 3-panel layout (not unlike GOOD usenet readers).

Syndirella is truly brilliant. Not only does it accept most RSS feeds, but it also allows you to define 'web feeds' from sites that don't actually have any form of syndication. To do this, you tell it the site, it pulls down the source and you sift through it and tell it the format of the title, description, and date... given this information it can parse through the source each time you update and will return the latest entries. Very neat.

Whether you are doing an RSS or 'web feed,' you are offered the ability to specify how many past entries to store — this can be controlled by the number of entries or days (or unlimited). You can also specify how often it should check for updates. This is great for two reasons. The first is that everything is completely automated; all you have to do is click and read. The second is that it gets around some of the limitations imposed by sites that will only let you update once every hour and even then will only allow you to retrieve the last five entries. By setting your update interval to an hour, you bypass this completely and are able to get all of the news, assuming there weren't more than five posts (or whatever their threshold is) within the hour.

I've had no real trouble with it so far. I really enjoy the fact that it displays clicked-links within the client itself. The only caveat is that it uses Internet Explorer to do this, which can't be changed. Given that I loathe IE, this doesn't sit too well with me. As it stands, when something interesting comes along, I just copy the link and open it in Opera. I have a feeling the authors will offer the ability to choose the rendering engine in the future (e.g., Opera, Gecko, etc), because who doesn't feel WIDE OPEN when they use IE? I mean, really people. Either way, I'll be using NetNewsWire on Mac OS X in a few months anyways.

I realize that this news aggregation thing isn't for everyone, but if you are half as bad as I am with requiring yourself to stay informed about everything you can, then I'm sure this will be of great help to you. If this interests you at all and you need help finding a syndication channel for your favorite site, don't hesitate to ask.

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