If you are one of those folks fed up of visiting your favorite blogs or sites time and again, then RSS feed readers provide a quick and easy way to keep up with them. We've covered open-source desktop feed readers before; however, they're not that convenient for people who use multiple operating systems or distributions. So, here's a way to keep up with your favorite blogs and news sites right from your browser using an RSS feed reader.
So, what is RSS?
Really Simple Syndication in other words RSS, is a format for web feeds that helps in publishing frequently updated works like blog entries, news headlines, audio and video. All this is done in a standardized format. An RSS document, more commonly known as a “feed”, includes full or summarized text along with its metadata like publishing dates and authorship. In short, you get access to the latest news and your favorite blog updates without visiting the original website and still, not miss a single update.
Looking for the best feeds
If you are new to the world of blogs, news sites and web magazines, then RSS will make it very easy for you to read content from tons of sources in an organized manner. But before you start adding feeds to your feed readers, you need to find some great feeds that match your taste and interests.
Enter ctrlQ. CtrlQ is an RSS search engine, which helps you search for feeds by entering relevant keywords. Once the search term is entered, say 'tech news', results show up instantly featuring the names of the sites and a little info about them. The results also include links to the original site and their RSS URL. A subscribe button on the side allows subscribing to the feeds using popular feed readers like Google Reader, Bloglines, Netvibes and more. You may use any of the Google advanced search operators - like site, allintitle or inurl – in your queries to further refine your search results, eg. Searching 'tech source' on the site will return a link to our site along with our unique feed URL. To know how the search engine works, watch the following video:
Choosing the best Feed Reader
Reading feeds with web-based feed readers is much more convenient than desktop feed readers as they work across all platforms. Moreover, modern web-based feed readers come with features like desktop shortcuts and offline viewing that makes them feel even more native. Here's a look at two of the best web-based feed readers.
When it comes to these web-based feed readers, Google Reader is undoubtedly one of the best. It comes with tons of features like feed sharing, feed recommendations, import/export and tight integration with other Google services like Gmail and Google Translate. It also works across multiple devices like mobiles and tablet computers. Enough for now, we won't go too deep into to all of its features, as any user with a Google account must have surely come across Google Reader. And, if you haven't tried it out yet, here's a link to the site.
Feedly is probably the best looking feed reader around. It installs itself as an extension on almost all the browsers and then displays feeds in a magazine-like interface. What's more, it integrates perfectly with Google Reader, so that you won't end up importing and exporting a lot of feeds. In short, it acts as a perfect replacement for Google Reader. Once installed, the front page displays the feeds in a magazine-like format that can be customized later. Once you click on the article, you can share it, save it for later or choose to keep it as unread. Furthermore, Feedly is highly customizable which allows users to fine-tune the interface according to their own needs. You can get feedly by clicking on the following link.
Getting full RSS feeds
Now that you've chosen your favorite feed reader, it's time to tackle a minor hurdle that stands between you and your favorite feeds, that is partial RSS feeds. One petty annoyance about RSS feeds is that some websites don't give access to their full feeds. Instead, they provide a short preview of the article along with a link to the full article. Though this helps websites generate more revenue, it defeats the whole purpose of using RSS feed readers. The best way to overcome this problem is to use a service called Full Text RSS Feed Builder. Using this free service is extremely simple; all you have to do is go to the site, enter the link to your favorite feed and click on submit. The site then generates a new link that provides access to full feeds of the entered website along with a small preview of how the feeds look. Now copy and paste this new URL in your favorite feed reader (web-based or desktop) and enjoys the full feeds. The fetching is fast, ad-free and is constantly updated.
We know that even though there are many web-based feed readers, and many more services that provide full RSS feeds, we've covered only the best ones. This makes sure that you're not bogged down with too many choices (remember the Paradox of Choice we've talked about before?). Also, other services, which offer full RSS feeds are either too ad-ridden or are paid services.
In case you're itching to get the best out of your feed reader, why not subscribe to Tech Source and stay in touch with the latest in the tech world. And yes, we are very shameless when it comes to promoting ourselves :-)
Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.