Newsreader as Aggregator

Posted by Phil Weber on April 8, 2003

Like seemingly everyone else in the .NET Weblog universe, I downloaded Luke Hutteman's SharpReader yesterday, and have been using it all day. It's a fine piece of software -- excellent work, Luke! -- but, like everyone else, I have feature requests:

  • Ability to select and act on multiple items (delete, mark as read, etc.)
  • Ability to "flag" or bookmark items
  • Ability to post from within SharpReader (G. Andrew Duthie came up
    with a hack that allows this)
  • Deleted Items folder (undelete)
  • Open links in user's default browser
  • ...etc.

The more I thought about the various feature requests, the more it seemed that people want SharpReader to behave like a newsreader: Outlook Express, Forte Agent, Mozilla, etc. Rather than create Yet Another News Aggregator, why not simply serve RSS feeds via NNTP? Users could then read/manage them in the newsreader of their choice.

A quick Google for "RSS NNTP" uncovered two tools which do precisely that: nntp//rss and Genecast.

Genecast is a hosted, subscription-based service ($18 for 6 months), which might appeal to those who want to access their news from any computer, and who don't have access to a server of their own. nntp//rss, on the other hand, is an open source (GPL) Java-based tool that creates an NNTP server on your local machine, rather like Radio Userland. Simply use its Web-based admin pages to subscribe to your favorite RSS feeds (it can import your existing subscriptions via OPML) and point your newsreader at localhost:119. If you install it on a Web-accessible machine, you can read your news from anywhere.

How does nntp//rss compare to SharpReader? Well, it doesn't allow you to categorize your feeds (you can use a hierarchical naming convention to simulate categories, but you don't get that nice aggregation of all items within a category); it doesn't thread items, nor does it generate automatic comments links. On the other hand, it does allow you to post from your newsreader, and it allows you to use all of your newsreader's selection, marking and filtering capabilities. And since it's open source, we (and by "we," I mean "you") could probably add threading and categorization. Check it out!


Comments

Posted by Jason Brome on April 8, 2003:

Phil,

Thanks for checking out nntp//rss! It is still early days, but we’re getting some good feedback. We have a number of features that we’re going to implement in forthcoming releases that’ll give you more flexibility over the way you can organize your feeds, including the idea of ‘virtual newsgroups’. Watch this space…

If you or any of your readers have other ideas, please email them, or add them to the feature request list over at SourceForge.net (www.sf.net/projects/nntprss)

Thanks!


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