I’ve just started trying out Newsgator, an RSS news aggregator that runs within Microsoft Outlook. Summing up my experience so far in one word – excellent. If you want to get a view on all your incoming information – email as well as RSS webfeeds – from within a single program, Newsgator is definitely worth considering.
After downloaiing the trial version 2 from the Newsgator website and installing it (a simple procedure), I started up Outlook 2003. The Newsgator startup wizard ran so that I could do some basic configuration: for instance, determining which folder within Outlook would be the base folder in which to post and display RSS news items. I chose to have a folder called ‘News’, within which all RSS webfeeds I subscribe to would be within their own folders, the same I have set up in Feed Demon, my current RSS reader. I’ll probably change that into some category folders, eg, favourite blogs, general news, tech news, etc.
Once installed and set up, my first thought was, “How do I get all the RSS webfeeds I already subscribe to into Newsgator?” I actually visualized a painful process of manually adding in each one. Not at all. Newsgator enables you to import an OPML file (concise definition) which makes it extremely easy. You see all your RSS news items in the same way you see your email, including with the Outlook reading pane if you wish. That makes it similar to how separate RSS readers present information. The only thing you don’t have is an integrated browser as you do with many RSS readers. But that’s no issue – clicking a link in a news item justs launches your default browser.
One of the great things about having RSS info within your email program and not in a separate RSS reader is that you can just email an information item to a colleague or friend there and then, or copy it into public folders if you’re using Exchange Server. Dead easy. Not only that, Newsgator supports instant posting to a wide range of blog hosting services through plug-ins (although I am disappointed not to see TypePad among those) so you can post directly to your blog. There are many other features, too; I haven’t got to them all yet.
The biggest pleasant surprise for me is that I can view and manipulate all my RSS information from within the email program I use all the time. It’s not Outlook – it’s called NEO Pro. Published by Canadian publisher Caelo Software, NEO Pro is a companion product to Outlook: an alternative interface to email management, putting it simply. I’ve been using NEO for over two years and couldn’t do without it. It makes managing email so easy. Forget manually creating folders, etc, in Outlook – NEO does all that automatically, and more.
Anyway, the fact that I can view and manipulate my email and my RSS information from within a single program – the program I use more than any other – is just about a perfect solution.
Will I switch to Newsgator as my preferred RSS reader? Too early to tell, although I do like it a lot. It’s on a 14-day free trial ($29 to buy if you want to keep it). Let’s see how the next 14 days go.