For a long time now, I have been a solid user of RSS Bandit and it has served me well. However, with me working more and more on different machines and no RSS reader on my mobile I came across Bloglines and it has definitely changed my RSS reading experience.
First let me explain why I am moving away from RSSBandit. I am subscribed to about 250 feeds, and when RSS loads up and checks all my feeds, my certainly PC feels the hit. After it has been left open for a while it consumes as much memory as Visual Studio and if I happen to be running a VM and RSSBandit decides to check for new items, my machine becomes unusable. I could keep opening and closing when I wasn’t using it, but it was painful to load up so I didn’t keep wanting to do it. The second reason why I moved away, was because all my feeds where in one place. I could have installed the application and shared my feeds across my machines, but then I had would have to mark things as read on multiple machines which would have got annoying based on how I used to manage email. My final reason was the lack of RSS support on my mobile, I didn’t want my phone to handle all of my feeds and I didn’t want to be alerted all of the time so a offline application would have not worked for me. Bloglines solves all of these problems for me.
Transferring from RssBandit to Bloglines was a nice experience. Both support the OPML format so I could quickly export from RSSBandit and import into Bloglines. Straight away bloglines displayed me the feed items it already knew about and started processing some of the blogs it wasn’t aware of. Very simple to switch between the two, and if I didn’t like bloglines I could switch to another reader without a problem.
After a short while, Bloglines displayed all the news items for all of my feeds. Bloglines does all the work server side, they keep a cache of all the RSS feeds so some popular ones (which as Scott Hanselman’s) will already be in the database so they won’t have to go out and hit the feed just for you. Makes it a lot quicker as you don’t have to wait 5 minutes for the feeds to be updated and processed, instead they are ready and waiting for you – even if you haven’t been on in a while.
The reading experience is surprisingly good. Bloglines have various shortcut keys to help you navigate around. j and k jump forwards and backwards over each unread item in the feed, m collapses the left pane, then n allows you to toggle the keep new status. This will mark is not as unread, but as something which you should follow up on. The item is then displayed and the bottom of all your unread items until you remove the flag. To see past items, you select the range based on a dropdown which keeps the UI clean. Switching between feeds is also very fast – so lag, no loading screens.
As for reading on my mobile, that’s also great. All of your feeds are displayed in a list, then you go into the feed to display all the items. Clean, quick, lightweight, with all the same features as the main site.
One thing I wish it would do is a directly Post to Del.icio.us, only feeds with it at the bottom of the item have it at the moment, but having it on all of the items would be great.