Bloglines New Beta Now Open to Public @ tk here on Monday, August 27, 2007 5:02 PM
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Bloglines New Beta Now Open to Public

Bloglines If you use RSS, or more appropriately, make use of web feeds, you may have heard of Bloglines. No idea what Bloglines is? Quite simply, Bloglines allows you to read all your feeds anywhere you want, as long as you have internet access. I've been using Bloglines on and off for about a year or two (I think) and it has served me well.

Bloglines Beta in Opera 9 Bloglines just announced that they have released their latest beta to public so you could also try it out if you had Firefox or Internet Explorer 7. But what about Opera? Well it turns out that Opera users are not left out as you can see in the picture on the left. Opera is also the reason why I've used Bloglines periodically, as it has a built-in feed reader, so I only use Bloglines when I feel the weight of my laptop > my utility of laptop. So what's new other than the cute β (Greek letter, beta)?

The Start Page

Bloglines Beta start page, mouse hovers over article

The start page has been revamped to show a quick overview of your feeds recent contents if you choose to add them in, which would be useful for those who keep track of many feeds. As you can see from the screenshot above, it shows the five most recent articles from your selected feeds. When your cursor hovers over an article (cursor not shown in screenshot above), it shows you a quick preview of it.

Bloglines Beta start page, mouse clicks on article

Clicking on an article expands it and marks it as read (as seen above).

In this beta, you get 3 different views to choose from - Quick view, Full view and 3 Pane view. Compare this with the previous version - Display headlines only (Quick view), Display summaries and Display entire posting(Full view). It would seem that display summaries has been removed.

The Quick view

Bloglines Beta, quick view

As the name suggests, the quick view gives you, well a quick overview of any single feed. If you have many articles in a feed, you could simply scan through all of them and pick out those that attract you. In this mode, clicking on an article marks it as read, as seen in the screenshot above. Maybe it would be nice if they added a preview of the article (like the one in the start page) when your cursor hovered over an article.

The Full view

Bloglines Beta, full view

The full view shows you the header and contents of the articles. Nothing really new here (I think).

The 3 Pane View

Bloglines Beta, 3 pane view

The 3 Pane view is arguably the most popular view for web mail. So it's no surprise that Bloglines decided to implement the 3 pane view in this redesign. If you're familiar with using web mail such as Yahoo Mail, using this view should be a walk in the park.

Some other new stuff
In this beta, simply viewing a feed doesn't cause you to read every single article in the feed. Maybe it's just me, but that's what happens when I select on a feed to read articles. It's slightly annoying if there are plenty of articles in a feed (possible for a feed like digg). The only exception to this is when you are in full view. In full view, as you scroll down, each article in view will automatically get marked as read. However, I feel this is an improvement over automatically marking every article in the feed as read when you select the feed.

If you notice in the screenshots above, there are a few thousand articles unread. However, the scrollbar doesn't become anorexically thin. This is due to the dynamic loading of articles introduced in this version. Bloglines will load about 50 (I guess) articles and when you scroll to the bottom, it'll load another 50. This is superior to the old version where up to 200 articles in a feed will load.

What remains the same
Some shortcuts are still available like 'j' to move to the next article and 'k' to move to the previous article. 's' to move the next subscribed feed and 'r' to refresh the left pane are also kept the same. 'm', 'n', 'o', 'O' don't seem to exist anymore. 'f', 'A' were not tested.

What's missing
Quite a bit seems to have disappeared or maybe I'm just passing them by. For example, I don't see where the blog, clippings and playlists links went. Feed options also seem to have been omitted. At first, I suspected this could be due to me using Opera, but viewing the beta in Firefox did not prove any different.

As a current Bloglines user, I welcome the new beta especially the 3 Pane view. Admittedly, the start page won't be too useful to me, although dynamic loading of 50 articles and manual marking of read articles is very much appreciated. The shortcuts I regularly use are also still there so the only parts that are missing (that I can see) are the links to blog, clippings and playlists as well as feed options. Hopefully, these could be implemented soon so I could fully enjoy the beta!

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