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  A Saucy Switch 


Well, it is done. I've made a switch to a new RSS reader. I've used RSS Bandit for quite a while now. I tried many different readers and ended up quite satisfied with RSS Bandit. But it just didn't excite me any more. I had tried Sauce Reader in the past, although to be honest, I was so in to RSS Bandit at the time that I'm not sure I really gave it a fair shake, but I have now and I am really liking it so far.

I'm not going to compare RSS Bandit with Sauce Reader too much here (although the things I like or dislike about Sauce Reader are from the perspective of an RSS Bandit user), but I will share a few things that I really like (and don't like) about Sauce Reader. I am a big believer in Josh Ledgard's philosophy of “Living in your world and listening to theirs” and hope the same of the makers of all software that I use. So, if I have something to say about software that I like (or that I really want to like but just can't because of some lack of features or limitations it might have) then I will say so in the hopes that it might help improve the software - or just to warn others about software I didn't like ;-)

Things I really like about Sauce Reader

  • UI is very clean, really great looking, and easy to find your way around. [View]
  • Very easy to see which feeds & posts have new comments on it. The icon for a post or feed changes to indicate that new comments have been made.
  • The comments are seen below the actual post - in the same page/layout. No need to expand comments and click through them one at a time, you can see them all under the post (like you do normally when viewing a blog post webpage). This one is awesome and allows me to quickly scan through comments on a post to find any comments of interest without needing to click through each one. [View]
  • Outlook 2003 style grouping of posts for a feed to make it easy to locate posts made today/yesterday/lastweek/etc.
  • Built in tool for posting to your own blog. The tool is pretty good (well, downgrade that to “OK“), but just the basic formatting kinds of stuff built in. No ability for formatting code or anything, but still, it does make it quick and easy for posting to your blog from your reader. [View]
  • You have a “Weblog This“ option available so you can quickly and easily post about some other post you read (it's will add in a blockquote of the text from the original post for you).
  • IE integration. It adds a tool bar in IE that will allow you to post about a page your on (using a “Weblog This“ button) and also a Subscribe button which automatically becomes enabled if it detects an RSS feed on the page (It doesn't really “detect“ an RSS feed but just looks for the RSSLink link tag in the page).
  • Sauce Reader is very simple, not overly-done or anything. Just a simple, but nice looking reader. The same reasons that I like TextPad, it just gives me what I need and doesn't over-complicate with too many bells and whistles.
  • Quick to navigate around.
  • Search folders (RSS Bandit had this too, but I still wanted to mention it)
  • No more goofy smiley-face icon with an eye-patch ;-)

Things I don't like about Sauce Reader:

  • The headers in Sauce Reader don't change with the current theme in XP/2003. They are always blue (assuming you are using the blue luna theme). Not a big deal, but it bugs me.
  • Although I do love the way it displays comments (under the post) I hate (and yes, that was bolded) that trackbacks are not clickable. You can see trackbacks listed under a post, but you can't click the trackback to get to it. That is so frustrating.
  • I can't seem to find any way to flag a post that I want to read in more detail later (other than leaving it as unread, but that's not the same). Well, I can flag it (by clicking the flag for the entry in the list, but I can't seem to be able to find my flagged items easily (I'd like to have a folder that shows all flagged items like RSS Bandit does).
  • I can't find any way to post comments from Sauce Reader. This sucks and would have been a deal breaker for me when I was evaluating RSS readers a year ago, but I guess I don't post as many comments now as I did before because it doesn't seem to bug me as much (but it does still bug me). With so much comment spam out there it seems that there are not as many blogs out there that allow that anyway. (Oops, see edit below)
  • There just has to be a way to do this, but for the life of me I cannot find how to sort the feeds in the list alphabetically. They are all in random order (I imported them from an OPML file). I could drag them all to the where I want them in the list, but I have a lot of subscribed feeds and it would be too much of a pain to do it manually.
  • I have the option set to minimize to the tray. That only works if I click the actual minimize button for some reason. If I click the in on the windows task bar along the bottom to minimize it then it does not go to the tray. Weird and a bug, so not necessarily fair to list here...

All in all, Sauce Reader and RSS Bandit stack up well against each other. RSS Bandit has more features, but I never used most of them. I seem to be able to get through my hundreds of unread posts faster using Sauce Reader so they have gotten something right. The newest version of Sauce Reader was a complete rewrtite. The Synop developers dropped .NET completely and went to Delphi. They claim to have had performance issues with .NET. I guess it is all with how you write your code. I have some .NET apps that are resource hogs and slow, but I have others that are quick snappy with small footprints. You really could say that about anything, but I'm sticking with .NET.

Sauce Reader is well worth a try. They do say it is free for personal use, but I get the feeling that they could be gearing up for charging for it at some point (that's just my perception). I'd have to re-evaluate it again at that point. I do like it, and have switched to using it as my default aggregator, but not sure it excites me enough to pay for it over other free ones out there and I don't think it is there yet. Not that I'm cheap (well, maybe) but it better be a lot better than other free ones to ask money for it. The Synop guys did a great job and deserve something for their efforts, but for now it is free for personal use and will likely stay that way, who knows. The software has only what I consider somewhat minor things that I don't like so it has some real potential to grow into something awesome.

Edit: OK. I did find a way to comment on a post from Sauce Reader. You can right-click the post entry in the list and then there is a “New Comment” option. Works just fine although I don't like having to right-click there. I'd prefer a button next to the ones in the top right corner of the post HTML pane or something. But a big step forward none the less for me to like the app even more.




                   



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Comments

  1. Ryan Farley 5/12/2005 1:22 PM
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    Test...
  2. Jeremy Brayton 5/13/2005 8:55 AM
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    I just installed it today actually just to test out 2.0. That's Delphi? Nice. I'm a little jealous that it works better than most of my apps and actually looks decent. The theme problem is most likely due to the controls they used as Delphi has good XP theme support in 7.0.

    Flagged items were a big part of RSS Bandit. Right now I usually mark anything I want to read later as unread in RSS Bandit, which would work for Sauce Reader but I like flags better. Both try to simulate the Outlook 2003 feel and I do have to hand it to Sauce Reader for being just slightly more Outlook-ish but it's a minor + in that department since flags are a big part of Outlook now. You can also size the treeview pane like you want it yet in RSS Bandit I've had limits on how far to the right I can pull it. I hate having to scroll horizontally to view something but that's something I've lived with.

    I do like the Weblog This section. I have an older version of WB Editor before they started charging and it pretty much has exactly the same features. No code formatting there either but if you click on your account you see the list of posts, exactly like WB Editor so I'm definately liking that.

    I was interested in Sauce Reader because I saw there was a feature about "comment subscriptions" and I thought maybe its a way to track threads so I know where I commented last and if there were any updates. I think there is something that's like "show only unread comments" but it's still not what I'm looking for. Though this is one area RSS Bandit does not do. There are no cache files for commentRss feeds at all, so when you click the + you're downloading the comments all over again. I've hated that about RSS Bandit but maybe in the future that'll change.

    For me, I'm sticking to RSS Bandit simply because of the flag feature. I don't want to mark things as unread to show I should do something with it at a later date. Plus if you click Help About you'll see 2.0 Beta expires on 6/30/2005. I'm not about to upgrade every couple of months for habit, especially since I run a LUA and my administrator password is a nice long phrase. I only upgrade RSS Bandit when there's some important bug fix or a feature is worth upgrading. Doing it for expiration purposes would easily annoy me.
  3. Tim Haines 5/23/2005 1:35 AM
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    Nice post Ryan. If you give feedback in the SauceReader forums I'm sure they'll include your suggestions into the next version. http://www.synop.com/Support/newsgroups.php?group=synop.products.sauce.reader
  4. Jeff Ballard 8/15/2005 12:15 PM
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    Well, I switched to Sauce Reader on your recommendation. I love it, but it's said to see that Synop is closing down and that the product is for sale. I'm not sure why they're closing, but I'm wondering if they felt they couldn't compete with Microsoft integrating so much RSS support into IE and Vista. Perhaps they felt the market for the product was going away or would be overtaken by bundled products. Or perhaps the money just ran out. Too bad, it's a great product.
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