Feed Me

When your only tool is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

When your favorite web client is NetNewsWire Lite, every web site starts to look like it ought to provide an RSS feed.

NetNewsWire is that good. Until NetNewsWire, the whole news aggregation/RSS scene made my eyes glaze over. I knew what it was. I understood the purpose. I just didn’t see the appeal. In fact, when this very web site debuted a mere six weeks ago, it didn’t have an RSS feed (even though it’s just a checkbox away in Movable Type), because I didn’t see the point.

NetNewsWire has all the makings of becoming a killer app. Is there a single Mac-oriented weblog that hasn’t yet sung its praises?

My only problem is that I have a strong tendency to refer to it as “NetNewsWatcher”, as though it were related to John Norstad’s renowned Usenet client (and derivatives).

The most surprising thing about NetNewsWire isn’t that it has changed how I read web sites, but that it has changed which web sites I read. Sites without feeds (Zeldman, I’m looking in your direction) are falling off my daily read list because I don’t remember to check them for new content.

Sites which offer feeds are replacing sites that don’t on my reading list. For example, MacUpdate offers RSS feeds (one for OS X, one for OS 9); VersionTracker offers none.

Miscellaneous Points of Interest

  • There is nothing like it for Mac OS 9.
  • There is nothing else like it for Mac OS X.
  • NetNewsWire Lite is free. But enthusiastic users are chomping at the bit to pay for the upcoming pro version.
  • It makes excellent use of drag-and-drop. For example, to subscribe to a feed, you can drag the link from your web browser directly into NNW’s subscription list.
  • It not only comes with actual documentation, but it’s well-written documentation. (What’s the deal with all the Cocoa apps with a Help menu item that only brings up a “Help is not implemented for this application” dialog box? Why not remove the Help menu if there is no help?)
  • When you report bugs, they get fixed. Sometimes the next day.
  • When you submit feature requests, they are thoughtfully considered. And sometimes implemented the next day.

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