Well, it’s been too long coming, really. This post is really just a way to give feedback to the developer of NewsMacPro while making sure I don’t just jot down some half-baked thoughts in an email and send them off. Not that my writing up here is much better…
First off, the slightly later than expected (by me, at least) version 1.2 is a huge improvement over the version that received a less than glowing review in a sort-of recent feed reader round-up. The icon is better, and a huge amount of interface clutter has been removed. Furthermore, it now has tabs, so the browser is actually almost useable on its own. (Cf. John Siracusa’s comments that often he spends all his time browsing in NetNewsWire.)
So the interface in general is really nice, but as a whole there are still some rough spots in the application. The reason I’m sticking with the program is that (a) I spent money on it in an impulse buy — it was a good price! — and (b) as an Australian, I guess I’m supposed to “root for the underdog”, to use an American phrase.
My biggest complaint is general stability; I’ve had some crashes and other odd behaviour that still haven’t entirely been ironed out with the point-point bug fixes. It’s quietened down a lot, though, so it’s generally useable. Sometimes not, though, which is disappointing.
While the visual design of the interface is very nice, the behaviour of the interface, something equally as important, has a couple of unexpected quirks that need to be ironed out.
CMD-W doesn’t close the tab you’re in, it closes the entire window. That’s totally counter-intuitive — I never wish to close the window, anyway, but at most CMD-W should only do so when there are no more tabs open.
There is no “open in background tab” method (that I can find), which is an odd oversight. Middle mouse click or CTRL+click should do so, like every other browser (with tabs) on earth.
Closing a tab selects the next one to the left. This is counter to accepted practise in Safari et al. Furthermore, tab closing is a mouse down event? It should so be mouseup.
Tabs should be dragable. Sorry, that’s just the way it should be these days. Even FireFox lets you…
The three interface layouts are nice to offer, but on a 12 inch PowerBook, there’s really only one that is suitable: Traditional View. By the way, the menu items to switch between views should be ticked to should the currently selected.
The biggest problem I have with NewsMac Pro is that it allows smart folders, but they don’t update until you click on them. There’s little point having an “unread” folder that only tells you how many unread channels there are until you click on it!
Holding down option should allow you to create a smart folder when clicking on the “+” = “add folder” button.
Finally, there seem to be two “Mark unread” items in the contextual menu on a headline?
It would be incredibly helpful to have a “next unread channel” button/shortcut, (unless I’ve missed one that already exists).
While it’s nice to have metadata for channels, and nicer to have smart folders for organising, it’s really just a pain to set up. For example, I’d like to tag all of my channels by category, such as “Apple”, “Web”, and “People”, for example, and then have smart folders that will group unread messages for each so I can segregate my reading to specific topics at specific times. In addition, I’d like to be able to browse through the channels to which I’m subscribed, again sorted by category.
So to get something like this, I need to create two sets of smart folders, with smart searches for every single category in both unread and all-read states. As a solution to the tedium of performing this, keyword folders could be created on the fly as new keywords are added to headlines. Think of it as browsing by metadata, which all apps should provide.
I haven’t really tried out any other commercial feed reading software. This app is nice, but has a way to go before it’s perfect. I do enjoy using it, and I hope my criticism isn’t taken too strongly — it’s very likely that I couldn’t do what Rory Prior has done; it’s a lot easier to complain when you’re not the one programming the thing!
In closing, best wishes for the future! I’m looking forward to it.