Generally though, RSS feeds are pretty drab, with the emphasis on drab, rather than pretty.
Enter the visual RSS reader Feedlooks, and the world of what they themselves describe as “˜full visual glory‘.
Needless to say, this isn’t the first newsreader we’ve taken a look at. You might like to take another look at a couple of earlier MUO reviews. Dave talked about some different ways to use Google Reader a few months ago. Karl took a look at the most used readers, and Nancy helped us through using Good Noows instead of GReader.
I’m a big Google Reader user, so I was pleased to see that that the Feedlooks visual RSS reader was entirely web-based, and that it was happy to import my feeds from Google. There’s an export/import step in the middle, but it’s not too much of a problem. Beware that in the pre-beta world of Feedlooks, you might face some limitations as to the quantity of feeds they will let you bring in-house.
So, do what you do best. Provide an email address, create a password, answer the confirmation email, log in, and you’re feeding with class.
We’ll look at adding a feed manually in a minute, but in the meantime you have some sample feeds to take a look at, and we’re going to do that GReader import thing:
Click on Account in the toolbar, change the colour scheme if you’re of a mind, and then click Import/Export feeds.
As we’re going to deal with Google Reader, take a look at the instructions, then click the link as indicated. Assuming you’re signed into the right account at Google (I wasn’t!) then you’ll be asked what you want to do with the google-reader-subscriptions.xml file. Save it somewhere locally, and then browse to it from the Feedlooks page. Click import, and you’ll get a confirmation that the file will be imported.
That’s going to take a little while, and the kind folks at Feedlooks will email you when it’s finished. More than that, in my email I was given a list of feeds that, quite legitimately, it didn’t want to add. Closed blogs and the like.
Add a feed
Meanwhile, back on the homepage, a small child waits”¦ no, hold on, that’s a Kiwi saying, you won’t understand. In fact a small plus (+) button waits. Click it, and we’ll go through the add process.
Go to a web page with a feed. Copy the URL for the feed, and head back to Feedlooks.
The subscription itself is a little bit of an anti-climax. The box glows briefly, and the address disappears, ready for the next one. Back to the Home page.
Up and running
The pre-beta status of feedlooks means that you need to be prepared to put up with a few rough edges, and one of them is scrolling through a huge list of alphabetically sorted feeds, but eventually you can get to the one we want.
A couple of tips. You can click the title of each feed to hide the individual items in its list, but don’t click the X to the left of the title unless you wish to delete the feed. That’s a whole different matter.
Click the title of a particular post to take a closer look. For instance, my PhotographyBB feed looks like this:
And that’s the general philosophy. The way to achieve the full visual glory is to take the reader to the actual webpage, embedded in the feedlooks page. And it looks great.
Unfortunately, pre-betas mean that your mileage may vary. Probably the largest part of my RSS feeds are from Flickr. And as yet, that doesn’t work well because Flickr doesn’t allow embedding of their pages in other sites. There seems to be something of an issue with Feedburner as well.
Flickr feeds are probably going to be particularly difficult, especially if the simple visibility of GReader cannot be replicated for these.
You can do a whole bunch of other things in here. Help yourself to the menu, and go wild. You can export all the feeds again, so even if you change your mind, all is not lost.
it’s exciting. I really like where this is going. But I think it’s got a way to go. Is it cool? You bet. Is it ready? Not yet. Watch this space!
Take a look at this visual RSS reader yourself, and let me know what you think in the comments. I’m particularly interested to know how it copes with the sorts of feeds you have lots of.