6 Comments

RSS Viewers – Liferea and a Preview of Straw

When I first read about people using RSS viewers, I thought, whats the point? Ah… one of those so many things with market to make our life easier but are they just glossy wrappers keeping us away from the candy? So after hearing tante touch about them last week, I decided to try Liferea with a bit of sketicism.

The point of RSS viewers is to collect blogs and news stories and put them in a central application to know when pages are updated and to minimize browser-hopping.

My necessities for a RSS viewer are:

  1. Light. I have computer from 1999 and my browser does fine for most details I need to look up. Could a RSS viewer do this better, faster?
  2. The ability to load pictures would be nice but… not a requirement.
  3. All the other things I would expect from a RSS viewer: regular updates, readable text (or the ability to change it), ability to change between posts and feeds quickly, and being able to launch the browser when required.

I looked at two Gnome RSS viewers actually (Liferea and Straw). Here’s a look at Liferea, and I’ll give a short preview of Straw too.

Liferea

Liferea is the champ of Gnome RSS viewers, in fact, its really the only one. Straw is still in early development and Blam is no longer being developed. There is RSSOwl which looks promising but a Java app on this computer I’d guarantee won’t be light.

Liferea was easy enough to install without too big of a download or too many dependencies.

Liferea stays permanently docked in the notification area a nice feature for us news hounds.

With Epiphany extension “News Feed Subscription”, subsribing is as simple as ‘click':

Liferea uses a three pane view which I have mixed thoughts about. Well done is support for displaying image and basic formatting:

Built-in support for Firefox which allows Liferea to display webpages in it’s own tab:

RSS Viewers - Liferea and a Preview of Straw

Liferea does some things really well. It seperates subscriptions nicely, allowing each their own preference. I found the readability of text very good in Liferea – like a good amount of attention was put into it. This alone marks Liferea numero uno muy bibilios. It supports Atom, RSS and Feedburner feeds.

What paper cutted me about Liferea is it adds an extra 15 MB of memory to my memory load. Ouch. Not alot mind ya, but enough to make a difference on this computer. Also, Liferea does poorly on rendering html. Well, the rendering is ok, (uses Geckos layout engine) but the details, the fonts un-aliased with bad kerning… What is Liferea trying to do anyway, invent a new browser? Already Liferea has talked about adding Webkit support in the future. I don’t get it. Is Liferea seriously interested in the kind of development it takes to make Epiphany work?

Liferea should also consider an optional two pane approach. The three pain idea is nice for subscriptions where I only want to pick out one or two articles to look at, but for subscriptions where I like to view all the contents, it becomes a chore to have to manually flip between numerous posts.

Liferea is a good application and most of what I was looking for in a RSS viewer. Everything I needed was there… except for being light. It wasn’t extremely heavy, but it was not quicker than my using bookmarks in Epiphany. I’m guessing the built-in Firefox support is responsible for the bog down, it would be nice to be able to disable it.

Straw

Straws alot like Liferea… only younger.

Straw has an applet like Liferea that will tell the number of unread items. As of now, Straw does display some images and the text is formatted nicely. Straw has a nice feature when pressing the subscribe button that automatically adds the URL thats in the clipboard. All Atom, RSS2 and Feedburneer feeds worked without a hitch. There’s no support for post flipping yet via a button, so keyboard commands Shift N and P have to be used.

Straw performs pretty good. Its post flipping is really quick. It’s subscription loading, uh, not so quick.

Straw is probably a good six months a way from being able to be used for everyday use but I’m happy with what I saw and will be looking for it down the road.

Conclusion

For now, I’m going to stick with Epiphany. It’s fast, I do occasionally look at a page that hasn’t been updated but not very often. Liferea would be just what I need if it just responded a little bit better. Hmm, I suppose there’s always Google Reader, (Dirk shivers thinking fiscal domain). 

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About Gen2ly

<3's linux

6 comments on “RSS Viewers – Liferea and a Preview of Straw

  1. Liferea is more used on my desktop than firefox. I have just about every site that I visit besides a few forums in liferea. I have it update feed list as needed hourly and just check that a few times over the course of my day. I hardly ever need to open firefox anymore. Unless I want to comment on something is about the only time.

  2. hmm perhaps this is one of the reasons that liferea seemed a bit heavier is because I do typically comment quite a bit. I could see though if someone just wanted to read news that this could be useful though the partial feeds also added another step.

    Tiny Tiny RSS that is really interesting. It’s got me thinking to set up lighttpd and run it in the background with TTR might not be such a bad idea.

  3. Straw is very nice.

  4. I used raggle for quite a while (curses-based, so quite low-resource), but I recently returned to Google Reader.

  5. Actually, Liferea does have a two-pane view. Just select Combined View from the View menu.

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