Jun 18th, 2006 by ravi
RSS reader: Alesti

Tired of Google reader's lack of "mark all read"? Or Bloglines' or NewsGator's poor use of real estate? Not happy with any of the RSS clients? I heartily recommend Alesti, an on-line newsfeed aggregator. Not only does it cover the important basic features, but these guys seem to actually have a clue (no insult to my talented buddies at Google, whose reader I quite like except for the missing "mark all read"). If you find an important feature missing, you can be sure that the Alesti team will not only clairvoyantly figure it out, but will have it implemented in short order.

The things I like about it:

  • Web based, so you can read from any computer, anywhere.
  • Fast, fast, fast
  • Tags for feeds
  • OPML import (but that's a standard for all readers, these days)
  • Intuitive/traditional interface
  • Appropriate links at every point (reduces mouse travel)

The last point is worth expanding on: If you read a decent number of feeds, one thing that might be of importance for you is to be able to scan through them at a fast clip. The UI of your reader can make a big difference here. For example, if you need to bring up a context menu (right-click) to "mark all read" that's extra work. Alesti gets a lot of this right. There is a "mark all read" right at the top of the article list. There is a "launch in new window" link next to each article title. And so on!

Its a fairly new service (I think) and its still a bit rough around the edges, but quite usable. And it shows a lot of promise.

[I say RSS but I think Alesti supports most forms of syndication]

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3 Responses

  • Doyle Saylor says:

    This new site seems ok to me. A bit faster reacting that the other. A little bit more simplified in design which I appreciate. Have you thought about putting alternative text for the graphic above? Also the contrast ration in the navigation list is problem too low for people with low vision to properly see.

    The link in your email about comments about the site is not working coming up with a bunch of XML code schizzle. Similarly the link on the nav list for comments is mal functioning.

    Do you know anything about disabled accessibility?
    thanks,
    Doyle Saylor

  • ravi says:

    Doyle,

    thanks for the comments. I will work on some of your suggestions (I am using a theme called “Clueless” that was written by someone else). I agree that the colour contrast in the nav list is low.

    The XML code is correct and the stuff that an RSS reader would understand. Unfortunately, if you are using FireFox, since it can display XML, it tries to do so. If you are using some external reader, you can probably copy the URL from Firefox (by right-clicking on the link and saving the URL) into that reader. If you are using Firefox as your RSS reader, then you can just click on the feed icon in the URL bar of Firefox, while visiting this site.

    Accessibility: I do not know a lot. A long time ago, when I was more active with web standards and development (the old Mosaic browser), I was cognizant of the W3C (and prior organisations’) accessibility recommendations. I must confess that I have to keep such issues in my sight, while designing UIs.

  • Doyle Saylor says:

    Ravi,
    I was reading my note, and thinking I should increase my level of approval. Above sounds like 3.5 on a scale of five. But I think the site is more like 4.5 on a scale of five.

    I was thinking of using the new Opera again. I use Safari at home and IE on my wifes machine which does screen reading for the blind.

    I haven’t looked at your site in relation to meeting the standards for access, just commenting in a lazy way about some obvious things. I have a screen reader to see how well a site linearizes, but I don’t like being a site cop.

    So back to the site overall it is obvious you are very good developer. If I get the time some day I’ll help various sites to get their access issues better resolved. That’s the right way to do it, share expertise.
    thanks,
    Doyle

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