RSS Woes: NewsGator's Enterprise Focus Leads To Minor Glitches
As long time readers (or for that matter, anyone who’s perused the numerous links I usually insert in my cyber-missives) know, research via (and subsequent reference to) other online resources is a key part of my job. And I’ve historically leveraged the RSS reader capabilities of NewsGator Inbox, which drops new content directly into my Microsoft Outlook email client, to accomplish this objective. Initially, I ran NewsGator Inbox in standalone mode, wherein it was pulling feeds (and therefore content) directly from various sites’ RSS pages. Later, I migrated to NewsGator’s ‘Online’ server intermediary, which acted as an effective queue for times when I was unable to regularly run RSS-retrieval sessions. NewsGator Online’s buffer was particularly valuable with frequently-updated websites.
Alas, the party ended on July 30, when NewsGator announced that it was shutting down its Online servers for consumer accounts, transitioning such customers to Google Reader. I’d long wondered how NewsGator could afford to offer such costly (in terms of server storage and processing expenses, along with bandwidth costs) services to non-revenue-generating users, and I guess the eventual answer was ‘it couldn’t', And unfortunately, although NewsGator planned to migrate its standalone FeedDemon (for Windows) and NetNewsWire (for OS X, along with the iPhone and iPod touch) to advertising-supported (or, for a price, ad-less) versions cognizant of Google’s Reader servers, Newsgator Inbox development was abandoned.
I’ve mentioned several times before that my long-term plan is to migrate away from Windows-based applications such as Outlook as much as possible. So you might think that NewsGator’s move isn’t a problem for me. Reality, unfortunately, isn’t quite as rosy. Mozilla Thunderbird v3, the email client I eventually plan to migrate to, is still mired in beta land. And even once it exits beta, I’m still not home free, because along with NewsGator Online’s demise went the company’s alternative POP3 access scheme for feeds’ contents. I could use NewsGator’s Mac-centric NetNewsWire, but remember that my ultimate aspiration is to merge select RSS material with emails in a common database repository. NetNewsWire doesn’t have built-in email send capabilities; instead, it launches Apple Mail (and only Apple Mail) to accomplish this objective. FeedDemon for Windows is similarly feature-challenged, although it’s more flexible in terms of what email program it leverages. And anyway, the time-consuming and manually intensive process of emailing material to myself is unpalatable on multiple levels.
NewsGator’s original plan involved disabling the Online servers on August 31. The company later decided to wait until the updated versions of FeedDemon and NetNewsWire exited beta, initially forecasting a September 10 transition date. As it turns out, the programs didn’t ‘go gold’ until September 23, at which point NewsGator announced that the shutdown would take place on Monday the 28th. As of Tuesday morning, I was actually still getting updated feed data from NewsGator’s servers. But at around 3PM PT yesterday, new content quit flowing down my DSL pipe, and I regretfully realized it was time to move on.
For now, I’ve disabled NewsGator Inbox synchronization with the now-defunct Online servers, and I’m once again using the program in standalone mode. My hope is that one of the following occurs:
- Someone comes up with an Outlook-integrated NewsGator Inbox clone that communicates with the Google Reader servers
- NewsGator beefs up NetNewsWire’s email-forwarding capabilities, or I find another Google Reader-cognizant standalone RSS client that has built-in SMTP features and is otherwise sufficiently feature-rich for my needs, or
- Google adds the ability within its web-based Reader service to one-click convert pieces of content into emails, along with making Reader offline-usable via Gears.
Hey, Christmas is coming, right?