If you’ve been under a rock for a couple of years and missed all those little “RSS” boxes on web sites recently, you might not know what RSS is and what it’s doing and why you need it.
Trust me. You need it. That being the case, you need a way to get it, and NetNewsWire is one of the most elegant and inexpensive ways to start collecting RSS feeds from news sites. Modern, up to the minute sites, um, like this one.
NewNewsWire is an RSS reader. That means, with the proper URL, it will search many different web sites all at once, grab their latest headlines and summaries, and pull them directly into a screen so you can quickly those many web sites all at once.
One of the early applications was NetNewsWire 1.0 (and its companion, NetNewsWire Lite) which read those then obscure RSS links. Now, RSS is common; available on most news sites, web logs, and many other information web sites. Look for a link somewhere on the home page which says “RSS” or “RSS Feed” or “RSS Syndication.”
Click on it. All you’ll see is a huge paragraph of text that doesn’t make much sense. However, NetNewsWire makes sense of it, grabs the latest information from dozens or hundreds of web sites at once, and makes them easy to view.
NetNewsWire’s been a favorite for a couple of years now, and the new version (a beta) 2.0 adds more features; not revolutionary, but in a mature way. You get more of what’s good about NNW and RSS, less of what’s not worthwhile (the web log editor was a waste of energy).
There’s still two versions; a Lite and the standard version. As you’d expect, the Lite version of NetNewsWire is less. Duh. More on those differences below.
What’s New In NetNewsWire?
Searching – Finally, there’s a search field in the toolbar. It’s similar to the search function in the Mac OS X Finder, or the one in iTunes, or Mail. Enter a string of words (or a word), press Enter and you get a list of results.
Embedded Browser – This is waaaaaay cool, and about time. Just as Safari plans to embed RSS goodies into the browser, NetNewsWire embeds the browser. Click, and you get to view the page connected to the link.
External Weblog Editor – Previous versions of NetNewsWire had a built-in weblog editor. It was OK. It worked but wasn’t as elegant a solution as the many weblog editors that already permeate the market. Now, NNW will send posts to MarsEdit, XJournal, Blapp, ecto, and others. Nothing yet for Blogger, MoveableType, pMachine, or Expression Engine, though.
Persistence – Now you can determine how long you want NNW to hold on to a news item. This gets VERY handy when you subscribe to a gazillion different RSS sources and go away for a week. When you come back you could have hudnreds or thousands and thousands of updates to view. Or not. You choose.
Enclosures – NNW now lets you open RSS enclosures. They can be accessed via AppleScript.
Smart Lists – This takes a cue from the SmartLists in iTunes. In NNW you’ll be able to display news items that work based on rules you control.
Atom Feeds – The increasingly popular Atom version of RSS (there are plenty of versions; pick one; we support RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom) is now supported with auto-discovery.
Other New Features
There’s plenty, including updates on Flagged Items, Script Subscriptions (write your own RSS feeds), a new Activity Window, and Subscription Sharing with others on a network.
NetNewsWire is $24.95, and the Lite version remains free.
Is it worth it? That depends. If you browse through a dozen sites a month or a week and don’t mind clicking and clicking and clicking to find articles of interest on your bookmarked sites, don’t spend the money.
The reality is, time is money. Now, with NNW, I can select the RSS feeds from a couple of hundred sites in my bookmark list, and check the updates, headlines for each—all at the same time. Then, all I do is scan the headlines and summaries.
If I find something I like, then it’s one click to view the whole article. You can’t do that on a browser (Safari included) and the time savings is enormous.
What’s the difference between the FREE Lite version and the full version?
In Internet Speak, Lite means “less.” So it has less. There’s no widescreen view, or combined view. The Lite version doesn’t have Smart Lists, Flagded Items, or Searching. The embedded browser is missing, too (not a necessity, but handy), as are many of the newer features in the full version 2.0.
OK, is an RSS newsreader for you? Find out for yourself. Ranchero Software lets you download either version for a free trial. Click Here to see the Ranchero site.
For a more detailed look at RSS and what benefits it’ll bring to your Mac, check out our recent review—Click Here.