Web News Wranglers

Online Readers Go Ajax

A capable online news reader, Bloglines offers helpful feed collections for new users.
A capable online news reader, Bloglines offers helpful feed collections for new users.
Though both Bloglines and Rojo are useful, other sites offer more sophistication by heavily using popular Web programming techniques like Ajax.

Alesti, for instance, uses Ajax to create an Outlook-style three-pane online reader that smoothly guides you through folders of feeds. It's an impressive effort, but it needs polish: For example, clicking your browser's back button during a reading session takes you out of the site, rather than back to the last item you read. Alesti also lacks some basic features like the ability to e-mail an item.

Bloxor is an Ajax-driven, open-source online reader. It works only with Gecko-based browsers such as Firefox and Mozilla and seems geared toward the young hacker crowd (in fact, the site's official name is "t3h Blox0r"). The basic three-pane reader differentiates itself from others by effortlessly transforming into a three-column reader and, more notably, by loading items straight from the originating Web sites rather than just loading the article text in the XML feed. While this approach isn't always optimal, reading items in their normal environment is refreshing. The site lacks some basic features such as e-mail and blogging add-ons, but if you want the speed of a news reader while still seeing sites in their native HTML, this is a great choice.

Gritwire's SpeedFeed Reader chose Flash to power its three-pane reader, which makes for an exceptionally pretty interface. Unfortunately, it's short on configuration options, and in one instance the reader choked while importing an RSS 1.0 feed. It also suffers from the limitations of Flash, so an inadvertent back click takes you out of the program and loses your location in your feeds.

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