Monday 1 December 2003This is over 19 years old. Be careful.

Bloglines is a web-based RSS feed reader. Many people don’t like web-based interfaces, but I like Bloglines better than any of the other RSS readers I’ve tried.

For one thing, the main thing I want an RSS reader to be is really an RSS-aware bookmark manager. I much prefer to read blogs in their native HTML, because the different styles of the sites help me keep them straight, and make for a much richer experience. So I mostly use Bloglines just to alert me when blogs have been updated, then take a quick look at the RSS to see if it’s a topic I’m likely to want to read, and head over to the site itself if it is.

But there are little things about Bloglines that make me appreciate it as well. It uses favicon.ico images for the feeds themselves (something I’ve been looking for), to help keep things from becoming too homogenized. And just this morning (via a comment at diveintomark), I discovered an extra nice little touch: when Bloglines reads your RSS, it uses an agent string that identifies itself as Bloglines (natch), but also includes the number of subscribers to the feed they are reading:

Bloglines/1.0 (; 44 subscribers)

Now this is a very slight thing, and only of interest to dorks who both publish RSS and read their server logs, but it is a pleasing bit of polish and it makes me appreciate Bloglines more.


i've never been a fan of the approach of organizing items by having a "folder" for each feed and a two-pane interface. if i have 10 feeds that each have one new item, that's 10 clicks just to read all the new items. i don't like even having to scan that list on the left to see which ones have new items. i've found it much more intuitive to just have all new items show up on one page, kind of like an email INBOX. but then, i don't really worry about things becoming too homogenized; i think i even prefer that.

i wrote my own web-based aggregator to scratch that itch. it's not as polished as bloglines, but it's the only one i've found with an interface that works for me. i do like the favicons and the recommendations though.
Anders--In Bloglines you can see all the new items at once if you click the top-level folder. You can group the feeds in any way you want and you can choose which level you want to read. For example, if I refresh the Bloglines window and find I have a dozen new entries, I'll read all of them at once. But if it's been twelve hours since I've scanned my feeds I may have many dozen new entries, and I may choose to just look at one folder at a time--e.g. "technoblogs" or "politics" or I may expand the folders and just read one individual feed.
Ned: I read you every day via Bloglines. Thanks for a great blog. We met at Andrew Wharton's house (and later at a Russian restaurant) a few years ago, and I've enjoyed following your blog ever since I stumbled onto it.

Thanks again,

Michael Wexler
wexler at yahoo dot com

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