Saturday, April 23, 2005

Managing our Blogs

I've been doing some research tonight to find an Mac OS X-friendly RSS/Atom reader to make it easy for us to keep track of the student blogs.

I already use NetNewWire Lite, for the feeds I check regularly. I didn't want our student blogs added into this already long list so I performed a search at VersionTracker to locate a list of other RSS readers. My preference was to locate one that plugged into Firefox because we are using that browser with Blogger. Firefox is cross-platform and allows us full access to Bloggers' post creations toolbar and other features.

The first Firefox integrated RSS reader I explored was Sage because it is free and well-reviewed. However, it doesn't work on a Mac. Next I tried Lektora. It worked well and will actively seek out the RSS subscription for a site, but it is a bit pushy. I need to play with the preferences to see if I can get it to not try to grab the subscription automatically. If it tries to grab a subscription it already has, you are stuck because the back button on the page and on the toolbar don't work, so you can't get back to the page you were viewing. However, it does seem to be a well-developed program with many features and good documentation.

Next I decided to look at stand alone RSS readers. One that seems to be working well is Ensemble 1.0. I like that it cleanly imported the OPML file of my feeds that I had exported from Lektora. I also like that it shows all of the subscriptions, even if they haven't been updated. It makes them bold as it refreshes the subscription and places a number after the title to show how many new posts there are. It has a sidebar to show all of your subscriptions and another pane to show all the posts on a particular page. It has a setting to syncronize it with my .Mac account, but I can't tell if it is working. I think I will use this reader.

I also checked out RSS Menu 1.2. This little program places an icon on your menu bar. Clicking on the icon drops down a menu of all your subscriptions. A number after the subscription title lets you know how many new posts have been created since you last visited. Selecting a subscription opens the blog in your preferred web browser. This program did not import my OPML file, but it does allow you to enter the username and password for your subscriptions which might be handy in managing student blogs.

On Monday, I'll install Ensemble on Tammy's machine and teach her how to use it. I'll also make it available to Jabiz.