Up until now I have been using Sage an extension of firefox and thunderbird’s built in RSS functionality. My main frustration was having to add feeds to different RSS readers and while all allow for OPML import and export it still can be a pain keeping multiple readers in sync. I loved the idea that sage was there when i was using Firefox and Thunderbird RSS Account when I was checking email and that both where cross platform. However I was still not totally happy with my set up so when Google Labs recently anounced the Google Reader, I thought I’d give it a try. Here is what I found.
Some great keyboard shortcuts to take advantage of for power users, but equally well driven using the mouse only. It is great to see software that is so obviously led by the usability issues rather than the programming logic. It is clear that it has been designed around how people actually use RSS feeds. I particularly like the list view which has just enough information to assist my decision as to whether I want to read anymore, keyboard shortcuts then allow me to toggle open and close the item, open it in a new tab, add tags, star it for future reference. I can mark all items read in a particular folder. Simply holding down the shift key allows me to navigate at a folder level rather than an item level. Its all powered by AJAX and uses common like yellow fade technique and some modal windows. Another great advantage is simply being able to access one list from any location and any machine. Just like social bookmarking like ma.gnolia and del.icio.us have made favourites and browser bookmarks archaic, google online hosted RSS reader has done the same thing for RSS readers.
I think some transparent messages (as seen on website URL) rather than the text message that appear currently would be a nice touch.To make it even better I would like to see drag and drop functionality for sorting and categorising your subscriptions.
Its integration with firefox as one of the options for manging RSS subscriptions seals the deal and Google Reader as far as I’m concerned takes the RSS Crown.