FeedDemon Review

Dennis Faas's picture

Email newsletters, like infopackets.com, are historically the method I use to keep up with technology information. Once my email address is subscribed, the newsletter publishers deliver their information to me on a predefined delivery schedule. In addition to email newsletters, I'm finding myself reading more content from news feed channels, called RSS.

What is RSS?

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication (depending on who you ask), and is a markup language similar to HTML code used to construct a web page.

RSS works by organizing text information in a way which makes information easily syndicated by other web sites, software, or database applications. To download RSS information to my machine, I use a news aggregation software called FeedDemon.

What is FeedDemon?

FeedDemon is a software application used to manage subscriptions to news feed channels. When an RSS-compatible website publishes new information, the new content is written to an RSS file.

FeedDemon works by checking RSS "channel" subscriptions on a schedule set by the user, and then updates its browser with changes it finds since the previous update.

How is RSS different than subscribing to an email newsletter?

Channel publishing serves many of the same functions an email newsletter would. The publisher writes something and publishes it; instead of sending the new information to your mail inbox, FeedDemon automatically grabs the information from the publisher's web site.

One of the major differences between an email newsletter and an RSS feed is the availability and readiness of up-to-the-minute information. If I forget to check a favorite web site for a news update or don't have access to my mailbox, that could mean I might miss out on some great information. With news feed subscriptions, I never have to keep track of this sort of thing because the RSS aggregator remembers for me.

One other great thing about RSS is that it offers a summary of articles with a link to the full article online (similar to the email version of the infopackets.com newsletter). This makes it easy to quickly scan an article, see if it's interesting, and then read more or delete it.

Where do I find news feeds?

The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, CNET, Infoworld -- and a long list of newspapers and magazines all publish news feeds. Many niche publishers, like This is True, SurfNetKids, and AskTheBuilder.com also distribute articles using news feed channels.

If a site offers a channel subscription option, you generally see a little orange button with XML in white letters like the one pictured here:

What else does FeedDemon do?

Easily subscribe to your favorite feed: FeedDemon offers a wizard to automatically add the channel to the subscription list. Type the URL of the Website in the wizard and FeedDemon will find the channel and subscribe to it.

Create custom information watches: A watch list lets the user input keywords and then compiles a list of any articles containing those keywords. For instance: if I want to know every time a new portable media player hits the market, I can update my 'watch list' with keywords that will alert me whenever an RSS feed contains the word 'portable media players'. This is my favorite feature in FeedDemon.

Browse the Web from FeedDemon: Most news aggregators launch Internet Explorer when a link is clicked. FeedDemon opens the link right inside the application, displaying the Website, without causing the user to forget what they were doing in FeedDemon. This makes reading channel articles in FeedDemon easier than most RSS aggregators.

Build a custom News Bin: News bins organize articles for later reading, similar to the way folders in Outlook Express organize email. To use my example of portable media players again, assume I get 10 articles about portable media players. If I want to keep 2 of them to refer to later, I can store these articles in the News Bin for later reading.


Keeping up with new information at all the Websites I want to frequent is next to impossible -- there's just too many of them. Applications like FeedDemon, however, make it easy, allowing me to subscribe to the information I want.

Like e-mail, the news is delivered to me as it happens. Built in search functionality makes finding news relevant to your needs a snap. And, as I already indicated, one of FeedDemon's coolest features is the ability to create custom news watches which scan all downloaded feeds based on keywords defined by the user.

FeedDemon: Download

FeedDemon is free to try, $29.95 to buy. You can download FeedDemon from the infopackets web site using the link below. And, in case you were wondering, RSS news feeds will soon be available through infopackets.com -- so download FeedDemon now and give it a test run!


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