Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hello Google Reader. Goodbye Bloglines

I have been a longtime user of Bloglines. Sometime last year when Google introduced the Google Reader (GR) I took a looksee and was severely underwhelmed and so I stayed with Bloglines. One of my primary reasons was that GR did not work with my reading style. You see I like the blog posts grouped by feed -- all Slashdot posts together, all Javablogs together -- separated from the Slashdot posts.

Of course, the choice of Bloglines over over a locally installed reader was a no-brainer; I did not want to have to maintain a copy of my blogroll on each machine that I used during a typical day.

I recently peeked over to Google-land and lo and behold, this one feature that had been the deal-breaker for me had been added. In addition, were some very useful features that won me over. Here are the things that clinched the deal for me:

  • List view -- This allows me to glance at about 50-60 posts in a group at a time. If I am interested, I click on it to expand it and read a synopsis.
  • Ability to "star an item"
  • Keyboard shortcuts -- Boy! Do they ever have shortcuts. I haven't mastered them all yet
  • Ease of renaming feeds
  • Ability to selectively mark items as having been read -- Bloglines has a severe problem in that when you select a blog, every unread article in the blog is displayed and (this is the problem) they are all immediately marked as "read". Very often I start looking at feeds from a blog and before I can finish scanning all the unread posts, I am called away. With GR, I know where I left off
  • Progressive loading -- The reader doesn't attempt to load every article in the selected grouping in one fell swoop
  • Configurable start page -- I like my starred items to be displayed when I bring up the reader since well, I starred the item for a reason -- so that I can read them later!
Of course there is always a wishlist. Here's mine:

  • Ability to choose the order of display in the list view
    • [UPDATE] Anonymous commenter has shown me how! However I wish this wouldn't be a per-feed setting. OK, have a per-feed setting if you must but the one must be able to customize the default at a blogroll level.
  • Ability to mark an item as unread (I wouldn't at all be surprised if this feature is already there and that I just haven't figured out the keyboard shortcut)
    • [UPDATE] Thank you, Anonymous commenter for showing me the way!
  • Speed it up, please! Were it not for the features, GR's sluggishness would've be a deal-breaker!

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