FeedDemon, a powerful desktop RSS reader for Windows, is the brainchild of Nick Bradbury who now works for Newsgator. Here, we review the most recent version - FeedDemon 2.0 - that was released alongwith other Newsgator RSS products last month.
FeedDemon 2.0 is a tiny 3MB download that installs in less than 30 seconds. If you are new to FeedDemon, you can take the short FeedDemon tutorial that starts immediately after the software installation. The FeedDemon Tutorial briefly describes the important product features but if you are looking for more advanced help, try the online help or the much-active FeedDemon Support forum.
FeedDemon 2.0 offers excellent integration with Newsgator Online - a web based RSS reader like Bloglines or Google Reader. Say if you mark a particular feed or individual post as Read in FeedDemon, it automatically synchronizes and sets the read status of the item in Newsgator Online. It is a big time saver when you have to read the same group of feeds across multiple computers like between work and home. If you download or delete an item on one location, you won't see that item anywhere else (unless you want to).
FeedDemon License lets you install FeedDemon on multiple PCs provided only one person uses them. Also, when you enter the FeedDemon License Key, (see screenshot) FeedDemon uses a web connection to activate and synchronize with the Newsgator online account.
Getting started with FeedDemon is simple. If you don't have an OPML Feed file, FeedDemon opens the Feed Recommendation Dialog to help you subscribe to the most popular RSS feeds arranged in categories. That's a great way to quickly get started. Bloglines Users can specify the Export URL address and FeedDemon will pick the Bloglines subscriptions arranged in one folder.
Like the Microsoft Outlook Start Page, if you choose a base folder, all the items are displayed in one newspaper page style which can be further customized using the CSS. Then there are some inbuilt CSS styles like Expando, Outland, Prince or Surfer that can you switch in one click. Flickr, Webshot or Buzznet photo subscribers would love the Photo Strip style that converts your set of images into a professionally designed web album with thumbnails of pictures inside the Flickr RSS feeds (screen capture below)
Once you start FeedDemon application, one thing that immediately strikes you is the intutive and easy to use interface. The subscriptions are neatly arranged in a tree-style folders similar to folders in Microsoft Outlook (see screenshot). Like Outlook Mail messages, FeedDemon Items can be grouped based on Received Date, Author, Source, Title, etc. You can also filter items either based on date or read status or on the basis of the text. It's like instructing feeddemon to only show items that have "google" in the text or title. A convinient method to extract interest posts from long feeds like Fark.com or Channel9
Watches and NewsBins are some features unique to FeedDemon. Watch is like a pre-define search folder in Outlook. When you subscribe to a million feeds but interested only in those entries that are about "Bill gates", just create a FeedDemon Watch. As feedemon encounters an item containing "Bill gates", it puts it in the Watch folder.
Newsbin are useful when you encounter something useful and want to store it in a central location. Again, a watch can have multiple folders. A watch automatically collects items containing specific keywords, whereas a news bin provides a way to manually collect items. Since the contents are defined entirely by you, you have complete control over what goes into a news bin.
FeedDemon has a built-in Tab-supported web browser based on the IE engine. All IE favorites and context menus are available within FeedDemon. If your default browser is Firefox, FeedDemon will open links as a new Tab in Firefox. I wish I could set FeedDemon to open links in the background. Everytime I click a link, FeedDemon windows looses focus and Mozilla Firefox opens up.
The FeedDemon StartUp page layout has a thoughtful intelligent design - It groups "Feeds with Unread Items", "Feeds that I pay most attention to", "Feeds with Flagged Items" and "Feeds that I pay least attention to" - If you are in a hurry and just want to peek inside your favorite feeds, this is an excellent starting point.
The other useful component of FeedDemon is the cleanup wizard. You can delete items that are n days old or just keep a fixed number of item per feed and FeedDemon automatically deletes the rest entries. Other notable feature is the ability to automatically unsubscribe feeds that have not been updated in the past 60 or more days.
FeedDemon lets you directly post items to del.icio.us or blog the current item using a Desktop client like w.blogger or Ecto or Blogjet. With one click you can copy the HTML source of any item to the clipboard.
There's an inbuilt Blog Search Engine to discover and subscribe to new feeds. Like the Firefox search bar, you can also add new search engines to FeedDemon by creating a simple .fdsrch text file.
FeedDemon may take some time to synchronize with Newsgator Online if you are on a slow internet connection. There are also a few bugs here n' there like when you group feeds by source and navigate them with the keyboard. I also got a few "Class Not registered" messages while using FeedDemon. But again, these are minor issues and I'm sure Nick would resolve them in the next update.
One word of caution though - FeedDemon is highly addictive. Once you get familiar with FeedDemon, it is very difficult to move to a different RSS reader. No web based or Desktop RSS client comes even close.
Unlike other RSS readers, FeedDemon is not free. Newsgator have abolished the confusing subscription model and offer FeedDemon at a one-time payment of $29.95 plus a year subscription of Newsgator Online Premium Account. After one year, you need to renew your Premium Online Account but not the FeedDemon software license.
Download FeedDemon 2.0 for Windows
Related: Newsgator Inbox vs Attensa Outlook
Read More @ Newsgator, Nick's Blog and Greg's Blog