NewzCrawler as Aggregator

In making the switch from Radio to Movable Type, I needed to find a replacement for my News Aggregator. I tried several – including Amphetadesk and NewsGator – before deciding on NewzCrawler.

Some of the key features that make NewzCrawler a superior aggregator over the others:

  • RSS Autodiscovery. It serves as an agent that monitors websites I’m visiting through my browser. If it sees a site with RSS autodiscovery turned on, a pop-up window appears asking if I want to subscribe to the feed. This is exactly how it should be.
  • Organization of feeds by category. Rather than have a list of feeds I’m subscribed to, I want to segregate the feeds into categories. I set up folders in NewzCrawler for Politics, Technology (KM & General), Friends, Law, and others. Feeds are now sorted into those folders – allowing me the ability to easily focus on just the topics I’m interested in.
  • Search news items. NewzCrawler allows me to search across all feeds for words I’m interested in. (Kind of like a Feedster for my hard drive.)
  • Manual update and scheduled update. Radio only let me check once/hour for new items, and if I wanted to update in between the scheduled interval, I had to shut down Radio and restart. NewzCrawler not only gives you complete control over how often you want to update, you can also do a manual update (right click on the feed or folder and select “update”).
  • Newspaper. This really extends the functionality of the feeds grouped by folder. If I just want to see what items are new in the politics folder, I right-click on “Politics” and select “Make Newspaper”. It then rolls up all new items and presents them in a separate window so I can quickly scan all new items. If I prefer to scan new items by individual feed, I can do that too.
  • Drag and drop. If I’m visiting a website that doesn’t have auto-discovery turned on but does have an RSS link, I can just drag that link to NewzCrawler, which will then start the new feed subscription wizard. Takes a lot less time than manually adding in new URLs for RSS feeds.
  • Blog This. Whenever looking at an item, I can click a button and it will automatically pull up a new post window. This uses Movable Type’s API so that posts are made directly to the server; MT handles the formatting and uploading to the weblog site.

There’s a few rough edges. NewzCrawler has crashed on me a couple times. It doesn’t always seem to remember that it’s already seen an item in the aggregator (although, in its defense, this could also be a result of poorly-formatted or maintained RSS feeds – I don’t know). On the balance, this is a quantum leap up from my prior aggregator, and is certain to improve my ability to monitor multiple feeds for various weblogs.