Monday, July 18, 2011

Writerly Tools: NetNewsWire

Today I'm going to get all technical on you guys. Ready to learn about RSS feeds?

An RSS feed is the syndicated version of a website. RSS actually stands for Real Simple Syndication. Every blog has one, whether it's hosted on Blogger, Wordpress, Livejournal, or elsewhere. Even micro-blogs like Twitter and Tumblr have RSS feeds. The one for Squidink looks something like this.

By this point you're all thinking that this is good and dandy, but what's my point? Who cares? Why am I throwing all of this computer mumbo jumbo in your direction anyway?

Well, RSS feeds are cool because they update when a website posts new information. Instead of visiting specific websites multiple times a week, you can pay attention to their RSS feeds. And if you have something called an RSS aggregator, well, you can store all those feeds in one place. And then everything gets easy and convenient.

Today I'm going to tell you about one of these RSS aggregators, a program by Black Pixel that's called NetNewsWire. Instead of visiting a bunch of websites each day, I let NetNewsWire do the work and display the information for me. Not only can I keep tabs on dozens of writing and publishing blogs, but I can also watch for updates of my favorite webcomics--all in the same place!

Does it sound too good to be true? Well, let me give you the full dirt on the matter with five reasons why NetNewsWire might be the RSS aggregator for you:
  1. NetNewsWire is simple and clean
    Writers like blogging, and if you follow a lot of blogs, you know how obnoxious it can be to organize them all. Right now I have 162, so I totally understand. But NetNewsWire makes it easy with folders, and you can always flag items to look at later.
  2. NetNewsWire syncs
    Not only will your subscriptions stay up-to-date between your Mac, iPad, and iPhone, you don't even need the program if you want to take a gander on a different platform. NetNewsWire sync with Google Reader too, which is accessible on anything that can get internet.
  3. NetNewsWire has a web cache
    Say you're going somewhere without internet. Well, like an email client, NetNewsWire "downloads" information in your feeds and allows you to look at them offline. The only downside is that it won't automatically load pictures or videos, but it's still cool, yeah?
  4. NetNewsWire has a built-in browser
    If there's a link withins something that you're reading, you have two options in NetNewsWire: 1) open it in your default browser, or 2) open it within a NetNewsWire tab. This is awesome because you can keep everything organized and within in one program.
  5. NetNewsWire supports sharing
    Want to tell everyone about something nifty you just read? From within NetNewsWire you can email it, blog about it (with MarsEdit), or post to Twitter (via Twitterific). You can also save posts with and Instapaper, for easy sending and sharing.