My position as a sales professional keeps me very busy and on the road. Keeping up on the news and events on the Internet is important not only for my profession, but also for my hobbies. Netvibes has been my feed reader of choice for the last couple of years due to its ability to maximize the quantity of information I can digest in the limited amount of time I have available. However, due to some missing features, I was on the verge of switching to Google Reader, until last week.
The most important requirement I have for a feed reader is the ability to see as many feeds as possible on a single page. This helps me make my way through the 450 feeds I monitor in a minimum amount of time. Netvibes displays 9 feeds of 7 items each on a single page while Reader displays only 5 with 3 items each. A mouse over the entry title gives me an AJAX pop up summary of the entry. My busy life doesn’t allow for much time to read news, so having this quick look helps me stay on top of the news with a minimum of time invested.
Netvibes’s ability to switch the viewing pane from feed view to website view provides the best of both worlds. The feed reading screen is divided into 3 sections. On top are the tabs (collections of feeds), on the left is a list of the entries in the feed being read, and the right is the viewing pane where you read the entry. I keep the feeds that I read in more detail in website view, giving me a richer experience.
New in Ginger is a feature that is going to change the way I read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The widget for sites with multiple feeds has tabs that work as a mini-aggregator. The Wall Street Journal has 4 tabs What’s News, Business, Technology and Personal Journal which map back to a different RSS Feed from their site. The What’s News tab has a drop down menu with all of the feeds coming from that site. The first tab changes based on which of the 13 items is chosen. Wired, Mashable, New York Times, and TechCrunch are a few of the other feeds that use this feature.
Netvibes Ginger adds two other features I was really looking for, marking and sharing. Any news item can be marked as private or public, which puts it on one of two lists. The private list is useful for articles I would like to read in more detail or reference later. I can now share posts I find interesting with my friends list by marking it public. I can add friends who can see my public list as well as subscribe to it and become follower. This is a good beginning; I hope they add more social networking features to Netvibes.
Another very useful new feature is the Personal Universe. Using this feature, I have created a page that will aggregate information from the Broadband Satellite market (Marke Clinger’s Satellite News Feed). This provides a dashboard of the news from my company, my competition, and other Satellite News all on one page. My goal is to create a page that will add value to my customers day by providing them with relevent news feeds for their industry. Since many of the sites I want to aggregating do not have RSS feeds, I have had to create the feeds using Yahoo Pipes and Feedity to create feeds for these sites. A little added value and reason for those interested to monitor my Satellite News Feed.
I am a very mobile person, spending a lot of time travelling for my company. I use the Netvibes mobile interface on my Blackberry daily. Reading feeds on the go is a great to fill up standing in line time.
I am looking forward to future enhancements for Netvibes. Improvements to the social networking and WEB 2.0 features would be a great addition.