Short Nerd Chief

NewsGator Inbox 3.0 beta

Posted by Fred on April 17, 2008

NewsGator has released a new beta of version 3 of their now-free NewsGator Inbox, which lets you read feeds in Outlook, just like any other email message.  It has some useful features compared to my usual reader, the web-based Google Reader.  Grab a copy and install – it’s very straightforward, but here it is in pictures (click for bigger):

Let\'s begin.  Click Next.Your standard EULA. You know you\'ll ignore it, so accept and move on.Clicking install seems like a good idea.

Lookee, a progress bar.  Installation is fast, so don\'t blink.Already done.  Click Finish.Now set up synchronization.  Set up a new account or use an existing NG account.

Standard \Time to add some subscriptions. Use the OPML import to move feeds from a different reader.All done. Let\'s get started.

Some useful links here, but be sure to disable it or it will be annoying.

Installation was straightforward, but some issues came up right away.  The OPML import from Google Reader didn’t work properly for me, and it imported only the first feed in the list.  This is probably an incompatability with the XML file Google creates, but we can work around it.

 

An additional try with the XML file didn’t work any better for me, but NewsGator Online did.  Login to NewsGator Online, and click on Add Feeds. 

From here, click Import, and you’ll be able to upload the same XML file you used before:

Success! The Google feeds now appear in NewsGator Online, and because Inbox 3.0 syncs with NG Online, they’ll show up in Outlook.  To get there, however, you’ll need to update the subscriptions.  Clicking Refresh on the NewsPage (what you’ll get by clicking My News in Outlook’s Folder List) seemed to have no effect, but the toolbar button did (it’s the arrow next to the NewsGator Inbox dropdown).

Now you can read your RSS feeds in Outlook.  I’ve only been using it for a half a day, but a couple of features seem quite useful.  One problem with Google Reader is that if I don’t read items for a few days, they really pile up.  It would be best just to ignore the unread count, but I’m psychologically incapable of doing so.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to mark only certain posts as read.  NewsGator solves that problem, and offers to do so automatically:

You can also do this cleanup any time you want by using the NewsGator Inbox dropdown.

Inbox 3.0 also lets you easily post to your blog about any item.  Setup was a breeze – just open Options from the dropdown and click Posting Options.  Choose WordPress.com and fill in your account information.  Now you can post automatically using the NewsGator Publisher plugin.  Using the plugin is a bit clunky, however.  There’s no toolbar button, and no right-click option.  You have to choose Post to My Blog from the NewsGator Inbox dropdown:

If you use the NewsPage view, it’s a bit easier.  Each post has four buttons at the end.  The last one is a Post to My Blog link (I highlighted it in the image).  I don’t particularly care for the NewsPage view, however.  I know Dave Winer says I should like the River of News format, but I don’t.  I like folders – I don’t want a story on NewsGator Inbox to follow a story on how pitiful the Tribe is this year.  This brings up the other issue I have with NewsGator Inbox.  The Outlook Folder List shows your NewsGator folders, but it doesn’t tell you how many new items are in a particular folder, or if therre are any new items at all.  You have to expand the folder to see individual feeds.  You also can’t click on a folder to see a River of News-style list of all items in that folder, nor get a NewsPage view of a single folder.

NewsGator Inbox thus isn’t perfect, but it has some advantages.  I’m in Outlook all day long, so it is an easy way to read news.  Posting to the blog from an item works well, and works even better if you use the Windows Live Writer plugin instead of Publisher.  Feed and post management is easier than on Google Reader.  It should also work well offline, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Google now has offline access to Reader, however, so this isn’t the advantage it once was.  Plus, it’s free.  I plan to use it for a while and review it more fully later.

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