Shrook Preview 2

technology

I've been trying out a preview of an RSS newsreader called Shrook. I had tried the last version (1.x) and quite liked it, but I ended up going back to the excellent NetNewsWire Lite. The preview version is a tad1 unstable, but it looks very promising.

It sports the metallic appearance (which will either make you love or hate it), and looks like a cross between Safari and iTunes. At the far left of the window, the Sources and groups are displayed in a separate pane. By selecting one of the Sources, the individual feeds within it are displayed in a list to the right. If you then select one of the feeds, the entries within it appear, with a nice preview of the entry in a pane on the far right.

It's quite smooth, but the constantly unfolding columns mean that selecting what you want is somewhat of a moving target. However, you can work through your unread feeds by just repeatedly hitting the spacebar. The number of new entries in one of the Sources or feeds is indicated by a yellow star and a number.

The Sources and Groups are really clever, and function like playlists in iTunes. A Library holds all of your feeds, and you can then add new groups and drag feeds into them from the Library, or make Smart Groups, which dynamically update. You can specify a variety of criteria to build a Smart Group, including words in the title or the feed itself, the date, the author or the links. You can mark entries, which then appear in a Marked Items Smart Group. This is very handy if you're too busy to read something right now, but want to remind yourself to read it later.

Shrook uses the Safari WebKit to display the originating pages, which you can view by clicking a button at the bottom of the window. You can also hit Command-O to open the item in your default browser, but if you just want a quick peek at a page it's very convenient.

Another nice feature (which isn't new to version 2) is distributed checking. Individual copies of Shrook keep the server informed when they note that a feed has been updated, and then the server informs other copies of Shrook that are subscribed to the same feed. This minimises the overall checking of feeds — reducing bandwidth for the providers of feeds–and yet allows users to be quickly informed when a feed changes. The author also says that there will be iPod export eventually, along with some other nice goodies.

I suspect that this might end up as a serious rival to NetNewsWire, though it isn't free, unlike the Lite flavour of NetNewsWire.

1 1 tad = 1/8 of a smidge

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