Lightweight Mozilla RSS reader

If the 46KB download for Aggreg8, a fairly full-featured RSS reader built in XUL as a Mozilla extension, is too much for you, how about RSS Reader Panel, a 10KB download which uses a bookmark folder for your subscription list (“How to subscribe to a feed: right-click a link to it, Bookmark This Link…”), a sidebar panel to display item titles and descriptions as tooltips, your browser history to determine what items have been read, and the browser itself to display selected items, by just loading the web page. It’ll never replace SharpReader as a tool for reading content, but for someone who just wants to use a few RSS feeds as an update mechanism, it could be a great introduction to RSS.


Comment by Carlo #
2003-06-30 01:10:56

I’m not quite sure why, but I can’t stand SharpReader. I found NewsDesk 1.1 (out since last week) a more enjoyable experience. Have you tried it yet?

Comment by Carlo #
2003-06-30 01:11:51

Argh, it’s too damn early – I forgot the link.

Sorry about that.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-06-30 08:14:28

No to 1.1, but unless it’s radically different than 1.0, it’s not going to suit me (don’t know yet,’s timing out on me right now).

Here’s how to think of me and RSS readers:

I live in a browser. No, that’s not quite right. I live in Firebird. I go to an email app (don’t much care which) to get links to open in Firebird. I go to an editor to create files (sometimes, other times I do it in the browser) which I will then view in Firebird. I start an FTP client to transfer files that I’ll then view in Firebird. You can’t please me by providing me with thousands of glittery features and tons of UI in one of those programs, because all I want from them is to get through them with minimum fuss, and get back to my life.

So, there’s this constant stream of link filled content streaming in, in RSS, and I need something to moderate between it and my browser. What I want from that moderator is to easily and cleanly show me the new stuff, sorted the way I want it, let me read it without distraction, and send any links I click to Firebird. I understand that a Windows reader really needs to embed IE, for now at least, but I don’t want to sit there using IE to browse, so opening links in the system default browser is required, and if there’s a toolbar of browser control buttons, I want to be able to hide/remove them. I don’t want a toolbar button to do things like import OPML that I’ll do exactly once. I don’t want a menu devoted to things like reading the currently selected item, or opening its <link> in a browser, that I’ll do with the mouse or a keyboard shortcut. Three menus for the things I rarely use, two buttons and an address bar. That’s plenty of UI for me. You aren’t building a new home app for me, just a utility that has one job: display the content of RSS items, sorted and linked based on the metadata they provide, and then get out of the way.

Comment by Mark #
2003-06-30 07:48:57

FeedDemon. FeedDemon. FeedDemon.

That is all.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-06-30 08:20:42

We’ll see. Once I figured out how to drag the UI into something that would work on a less-than-27-inch monitor (which, oddly enough, turned it right back into a standard 3-pane view), and tried to ignore all the bells and whistles trying to distract me from my content, I noticed that it was only parsing RFC822+ dates that were exactly in the format in the spec examples, and then that it didn’t get W3CDTF for times after noon, and while noticing that disovered that it isn’t actually doing namespace-aware parsing: anything in <dc:date> is a dc:date, even without a namespace declaration, but <thedublincore:date> isn’t a dc:date no matter what namespace declaration you use, or where. The date parsing hiccups I can completely understand in a beta: this stuff can be hard to dive into, no doubt about it. Not doing namespace-aware parsing is a deeper, and much more troubling, problem, though.

Comment by Tomas #
2003-06-30 08:37:24

I haven’t tried SharpReader, I’ve just started using Bradburysoft’s FeedDemon though, it’s *fantastic*!

Comment by pete #
2003-06-30 09:04:14

i’ve been using aggreg8 since its first release but i’m impressed by the way RSS Reader Panel works. it handles rdf files which aggrer8 won’t, because mozilla won’t parse them.

thanks for the tip phil.

Comment by BillSaysThis #
2003-06-30 15:30:58

The problem with FeedDemon, other than it’s beta-ness, which applies to NewsMonster as well (IIRC) is money. SharpReader does a really good job and it’s free (yay, Luke!). I have nothing against Brad or anyone else making a living but if two developers give me a choice of reasonably equal products, I’m generally going to go with the cheaper one. Free beta is not, IMO, the same thing since FD nowhere (as of last Friday when I looked) states that beta users will always get free copies or even what the GA price will be.

Comment by Kevin Burton #
2003-06-30 17:11:19

This does not apply to NewsMonster. We only charge money for the PRO version if you DON’T want to build from source. Just download, build, and you are ready! It really isn’t that hard. The source version includes the same feature set as PRO we just don’t provide profile/reputaiton hosting.

As for aggregators in Mozilla, I think NewsMonster is the way to go. It isn’t as lightweight as Aggreg8 but that is only because Aggreg8 has less features.

BTW… Did I mention that NewsMonster now works in Firebird?

Also… please compare feature sets here. Comparing NewsMonster to a regular aggregator isn’t fare since NM includes features that just aren’t present in simple ordinary aggregators. Sort of like comparing an IDE to a text editor.

I think the ”lite” approach is valid but this is just an implementation issue. I am already working on thinning down NewsMonster so that it is smaller and faster.

NewsMonster is just getting started. You guys haven’t seen nothin’ yet! :)



Comment by Michael Bernstein #
2003-06-30 17:40:43

Kevin, does NM’s offline web pages feature respect robots.txt yet?

Comment by Kevin Burton #
2003-07-01 00:57:56

Yet? I have already said it won’t support robots.txt and I haven’t seen updated evidence as to why it should.


Comment by Kevin Burton #
2003-07-01 00:58:54

I should also point out that I don’t think anyone is even using this feature :)

Comment by BillSaysThis #
2003-07-01 16:37:50

Kevin, sorry I think I meant NewsDesk in the previous comment. But in looking at the NewsMonster website, seems to me that it only runs in Moz/Netscape and I use IE. Actually SlimBrowser running on IE. So SharpReader would still be preferable if I’m correct.

Comment by alanjstr #
2003-07-01 19:04:35

I posted an entry about what I wanted to see in an RSS reader the day after you posted this. I almost tried Newsreader today, but it required that I have Java installed. I rather not. I still haven’t gotten myself in the mood to do anything other than visit a bunch of links at least once a week.

Comment by alanjstr #
2003-07-03 16:46:06

I’ve added RSS Reader Panel to

Comment by coffeemonk #
2003-08-01 13:58:18

i have honestly been trying to avoid .NET like the plague. perhaps i’m a freak, but i want to do as little as i can to encourage Microsoft, and as much as possible to discourage them. call it personal choice.

nevertheless, i’m trying to find a good RSS reader, and it’s looking more and more like i may have to break down. NewsMonster refuses to run for me on Firebird or Mozilla nightlies (it’s explicitly stated that it’s not supported on non-stable versions), which makes it completely useless to me. RSS Reader’s site has apparently gone down, so i can’t check it out.

The main feature that i *really* want is the ability to just get a list of the latest headlines from all the feeds i add. i don’t want to have to click feed, read it’s headlines, click next feed, etc. i just want a list of the most recently updated headlines, in most to least recent order.

anybody know of a reader that does this? NewsDesk looked promising, but, alas, it requires .NET. like i said though, i may have to break down.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-08-01 19:08:19

A surprisingly difficult set of requirements. Other than (sensibly) wanting a reader that’s item-centric rather than feed-centric, it wouldn’t be too tough to come close (Feedreader and Awasu are the first two that come to mind as non-.Net), but as far as a non-.Net SharpReader clone, nothing comes to mind.

I completely understand your position on .Net, and they may yet (or may have already, I don’t follow it that closely) do something with it designed to put a few hundred more holes in my Bill Gates dartboard, but the basic idea, a really good common library that before too long you’ll be able to count on being on most (Windows) computers, is a fantastic idea. SharpReader’s a 445KB Zip file. Awasu’s a 3228KB executable. The current beta of FeedDemon’s 2284KB. Once you suck down that monstrous .Net runtime, trying out something new’s pretty painless. Sure, it’s like saying that once you get used to the brimstone on Satan’s breath, he’s a pretty good kisser…

Comment by JohnM #
2004-09-09 11:22:58


You don’t nee the ”.NET” virus, what about :

I found this to be pretty good for my needs …

Comment by PIeter #
2005-02-12 11:28:36

RSS Owl has a very Mozilla look and feel: I’m impressed!

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