Insanely Great Software: FeedDemon

I don't know who coined the term 'insanely great software', but once in a while it really fits and that's the case with FeedDemon from Bradbury Software. It's not an understatement to say FeedDemon has changed the way I use the Web.

In case you haven't heard of it yet, FeedDemon is an RSS reader and aggregator for Windows®. It's written by Nick Bradbury, who is also the author of the TopStyle CSS/XHTML/HTML editor. Anybody who's been slinging HTML for more than just a couple of years probably also recognizes Nick as the author of the HomeSite HTML editor, one of my early favorite tools for Web authoring. FeedDemon is the latest in a line of great stuff by a talented developer.

There are other RSS readers and aggregators on the market, but for my money what makes FeedDemon stand out is its clean design, ease of use, rich feature set, and the fact that it's a stand-alone product. Oh, and let's not forget excellent support via the Bradbury software forum, where Nick often answers questions, offers suggestions, and responds to issues personally.

Did FeedDemon really change the way I use the Web? Yes, and here's how: Instead of spending an hour or more every day visiting a large set of bookmarked Web sites, one by one, to keep up (as if that's possible) with what's going on in content areas of interest to me, I now use FeedDemon to pull in the RSS feeds from all these sites and present them in a single reading pane which I can browse in five or ten minutes. I've been using FeedDemon since it's pre-release days over a year ago so this seems very familiar to me now, but the first time I used it it was a real "Wow!" experience.

FeedDemon has Internet Explorer built in (with a tabbed interface for multiple windows - Microsoft, are you listening?), so in addition to reading RSS feed summaries you can actually use FeedDemon as a browser. You can also open any link in an external browser with a single click, if that's what you prefer. Either way it's easy to jump from an RSS summary to the full article or Web site when you want more information.

FeedDemon uses channel groups to organize feeds of related interest. It comes with several pre-defined channel groups and you can easily create your own, too. Adding a new channel (feed) to a channel group typically takes just a couple of clicks. I've created a single channel group of all the feeds I want to see on a daily basis for a kind of one-stop shopping effect. Using the 'Group Newspaper' feature for a channel group makes it even easier by enabling you to see a filtered sub-set of items (unread items, today's items, last 24 hours, etc.) from all the feeds in that group in a single window. This is a real time-saver and one of my favorite features.

A couple of days ago, Alex Barnett put together a nice screencast (Flash movie) about RSS and FeedDemon. In about ten minutes you get a good idea of the look and feel of FeedDemon, so this is a good place to start.

['Insanely Great Software' is an occasional series about some of my favorite programs and utilities.]


Rick Schummer said...

Absolutely dead on Rick! I have been using FeedDemon for a month and two days based on your recommendation and it has saved me hours. My favorite little feature is how it looks at the clipboard when you are adding a channel. If you have the link to the RSS feed it automatically pastes it into the textbox you normally would type in. It is the little stuff like this that separates insanely great software from good software.

Garrett said...

FeedDemon is nice, but I prefer using Bloglines.com. After all, with a web app, it's available wherever you go: a desktop app is less portable (unless you have it installed on a USB key chain).