Nick Bradbury (creator of FeedDemon) explains the way that synchronization works between FeedDemon 2.0 beta and the NewsGator online service. I’ve been using various builds of FeedDemon since the 1.6 beta began and synchronization has been a bit of an issue. At various times it hasn’t worked well, but I think mostly the issue has been a lack of understanding on how the sync should work. Nick’s post goes a long way toward helping clear some things up and it’s good to hear that they’re looking at better ways of handling read/unread state of items between NGO and FD.
It’s also worth noting that when a folder is marked for synchronization, FeedDemon no longer goes directly to your subscribed feed URLs for updates. Rather, it goes to the NGO servers to ask for updated items. On the one hand, this makes sense because it’s the easiest/fastest way for NGO and FD to stay in sync… but it also means you’re at the mercy of the NGO servers’ uptime. When they’re unavailable for any reason, and it’s happened on occasion during the beta, you’re not going to be able to update your synchronized feeds.
I’ve used FD since its original beta and been a customer since it was released… and I don’t think there’s a better news aggregator out there for people who prefer a Windows desktop application. Currently, there are just a few things I’d like to see out of 2.0 to make it ideal:
- Allow for nested sub-folders in the new folder tree. This has been requested a few times already and Nick has mentioned that, while it won’t appear in the 2.0 release, it’s on the list for a later version. I think for those who don’t like folders, having the ability to organize using the 1.5/1.6 style UI would also be good.
- Improve performance to where it was during 1.5… I tend to scan item headlines and use the “spacebar for next unread item” style of navigation. When cruising through a bunch of items at once (basically holding the space bar down), FD 2.0 doesn’t keep up the way it does under 1.5.
- Make the synchronization as seamless and “behind the scenes” as possible, but I do think it’s important to give users a lot of control over how it works. This is a challenge because flexibility adds complexity… making documentation like Nick’s post available within FeedDemon would probably help with that. Having an option to force a sync and tell FD “make my local feeds reflect NGO” (and vice versa) would be nice. If the NGO servers are down and FD could be told to go directly to feed URLS instead of NGO, having this explicit “force update” option would be great when the NGO system comes back online.
That said, it’s clear that Nick and the NG team are committed to raising the bar for news aggregation… the transparency and honest desire for feedback from customers is great.