Friday, October 7th, 2005

Google Reader: Ajaxian RSS reader

Category: Google, Showcase

Google announced Google Reader, an ajaxian RSS reader application.

There have been a number of attempts at online readers, and this is a nice one.

There are a couple of features that really make it interesting:

Keyboard shortcuts

Like GMail, the shortcuts matter. Hitting J and K especially to scroll through the feeds looks so nice. A really nice effect!

Keyboard shortcuts: j – next, k – prev, n – page down, p – page up, h – top, r – refresh, s – star


There is SO much content out there, sometimes it is nice to be able to flag some feeds that you know you want to read later. This is a very simple technique that just works.

Subscription management

A nice drop down comes along to make it easy to manage your subscriptions, and it groks OPML etc (as you would expect). I did have a problem when I imported my OPML. Google said they all imported fine but nothing changed. You can also use labels to sort out your feeds, and can narrow them down with a simple filter.


Nice messages

A top yellow bar lets you know what is going on as things happen, and a “loading” floating div lets you know when its chatting back.



Now all I need is for it to work in an offline mode like our RSS reader :)

Google Reader

Posted by Dion Almaer at 1:37 pm

3.5 rating from 14 votes


Comments feed

This is great – and unusually good timing, too; I was actually just thinking yesterday how much I wish my RSS reader supported vi keybindings.

Looks like it’s a little slow (probably under the *huge* load of ajaxian readers now hitting it after reading this post ;-)

Anyway, it’s good to see Google embrace RSS with open arms. I was beginning to wonder whether they would.

Comment by Chris Beams — October 7, 2005

I’ve not a comment about the Google Reader (which is great), but more about the wording of your title: “Google Reader: Ajaxian RSS reader”. Why are you labeling “Ajax” applications as Ajaxian? Ajaxian is the name of your site and blog; be happy for that, don’t try and make it a term which more and more people use.

Comment by Logan Kriete — October 7, 2005

Ajax labling application

Comment by songzhen — October 8, 2005

a somewhat weak offering in my opinion.

seems slow, and the paging and navigation seem somewhat clunky. also how do i expose other types of feeds like calendar feeds? netvibes makes this much easier. i am typically a fan of the clean and functional google approach, but i can’t see this tool replacing netvibes for me.

Comment by grumpY! — October 8, 2005

I tried it out and found it to the most unintuitive feed reader interface I’ve ever used.

It’s slow, a pain to move through and just plain weak. They should have labeled it “alpha” or even ‘pre-alpha’ instead of ‘beta’.

I’ll stick with Bloglines.

Comment by Jon — October 8, 2005

Wonky interface, but the hotkeys make up for a lot. However, I’m 100% sure that it ate my imported OPML file overnight, though. Reimporting right now. the jury is still out….

it’d be nice if it looked like gmail, though.

Comment by Robb Irrgang — October 8, 2005

I haven’t used Google’s Reader much and don’t have much experience with other online readers, I have always used a local program. One thing I like about their reader is the ability to add my own tags to the messages, in addition to any tags supplied by the author.

Comment by Shalofin — October 10, 2005

The Google reader is ok. There are other good ones, too.

But what I wanted to react to is your offhand comment at the end about having the Google reader work offline.

This is one of those “now that I have a hammer, everything I see is a nail” problems.

I’m a big fan of Ajax. I’m adding Ajax-style interfaces to my application in my next release.

But let’s keep out heads on. Why are people seemly so anxious to see so many applications become browser-based? I’m sooooooo freaking tired of this whole push to putting everything into a browser.

Geez — as soon as we do that, our “thin client” applications will become as “thin” as our “thick” clients, and in the process we’ll have become stuck behind the limitations of Javascript, we’ll have big bloated software that is all written in an interpreted language (remember the speed of desktop java?), and we won’t have *really* done anything except eliminate the software installation step. (And with modern software distribution techniques, we have made this a lot better for thick clients.)

So let’s keep some perspective. Ajax-style applications are good for lots of things. And it can even be good for the web-equivalent of desktop thick clients *when we need them* (e.g. when I have to use a browser when travelling and want to access my office email).

Otherwise, please build me nice, sophisticated, comfortable, fast, thick clients. I like my caching, thick-client RSS reader. It’s efficient, and lighter weight to use than Firefox.

Don’t try to take my power toys away from me – I might bite you.

(PS – the preview of this post shows it all in one block, no newlines. I couldn’t figure out how to add them (no and ). So if this is dense in the actual post, my apologies.)

Comment by Jay Batson — October 13, 2005


Comment by graham — January 24, 2006

Finally tried Google Reader and overall I like it – although I can’t see myself using it so much when I’m at home. I have got one gripe though… In Gmail you can set up a filter that will label mails automatically – I’d like to be able to do the same in Reader, but I can’t see how it’s done. Am I missing something?

(btw Shalofin – when posting, you can enter html tags to set new lines and paragraphs as well as formatting:

<p> for new paragraph
<br> for new line

<b> for bold

– Hope you find this more helpful than annoying)

Comment by andy — April 21, 2006

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