Oct
6

RSS readers for Outlook – quick way to read RSS feeds

Today I am suggesting you to take a closer look at news. For many of us it has become a customary practice to start a day with reading world’s latest news. I believe this tradition in some form or other has been with us since the earliest days of newspapers. With the course of time, however, new forms of media emerged. The constantly growing speed of our life, naturally, has had a great impact on technology, and as a result, we all have become part of the integrated information environment.

In our today’s review we will focus on tools that can help you keep track of the all kinds of news. I’m speaking about RSS feed readers for Microsoft Outlook.

Add-in Version Developer Price Supports
RSS Popper 0.36c RSS Popper free Microsoft Outlook 2000, Outlook XP, Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007
IntravNews 1.2 IntravNews free Microsoft Outlook XP, Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007
NewsGator Inbox 2.6 NewsGator $29.95 Microsoft Outlook 2000, Outlook XP, Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007

RSS Popper

Supports:

    Microsoft Outlook 2000, Outlook XP, Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007

  • Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server (Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 or higher required).

RSS Popper web-site

The installation went in the way that most users would like it to go: in some minutes after running the installation wizard, I was informed that the add-in installed successfully.

After Outlook starts, it’s no problem to find the RSS Popper menu:

RSS Popper: Menu items

Well, what do we see? The ability to quickly switch processing of RSS feeds on and off using the RSS is OFF option, update news headlines using the Refresh option, and the add-in’s menu itself. The About button will show you the number of the currently used version.

RSS Popper: About add-in

The Options item opens the available settings of the add-in:

RSS Popper: Add-in options

RSS Popper: Proxy configuring

You can set the following parameters: time before the first refresh, refresh interval, default Outlook folder, disabling error e-mails, not refreshing RSS feeds when offline, adding a feed title to the default feed folder, and refreshing links through RSSPopper.com. Also, there is an option for setting the add-in through the Proxy authentication (here you need to be very careful because the add-in gives you a warning that stored passwords may be retrieved).

For setting RSS feeds use the Edit Feeds option. A click on this menu item opens the following window:

RSS Popper: Feeds info

In this window, you manage the subscriptions and settings of all your RSS channels. They can be removed, added, temporary disabled (by unchecking the appropriate feed), the refresh interval and settings can also be changed.

You can edit the settings of existing feeds using the Modify option:

RSS Popper: Feed Information

It is enough just to enter the link, the title can be retrieved automatically if you use the Get from Feed option. You can also download podcasts and web pages.

The Authentication tab allows you to enter the user information if the channel requires authentication. However, this option, again, should be used very carefully due to the risk of possible retrieving of your stored passwords.

RSS Popper: Configuring authentication

Luckily, the feeds that you already subscribed to, do not require registered accounts. So, now it’s the high time to see RSS Popper in action.

After refreshing you will see that the RSS folder is filled with fresh content.

RSS Popper: Mail folders

The content of RSS feeds is sorted out in accordance with the settings of the Destination folder.

You get the content of each folder in the form of standard Microsoft Outlook messages:

RSS Popper: RSS content

At that, the content of the current message (colored in grey) is shown as a usual message with the only difference that at the end of each message you have the Read More link, a click on which opens in your browser a web-page with the full version:

RSS Popper: RSS post

Summing up: with RSS Popper, we have a little and fast add-in without any excesses unnecessary for most users.

IntraVnews 1.2 from IntraVnews

Supports:

    Microsoft Outlook XP, 2003, 2007.

  • Microsoft Windows 98 SE or higher (Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 or higher required).

IntraVnews web-site

The installation of this add-in revealed a number of specificities. Firstly, the installation wizard allows choosing between installations for a single user and for all users:

IntraVnews: Setup add-in

Secondly, after starting Outlook you see the add-in’s welcome screen, which is, in fact, the settings wizard:

IntraVnews: Welcome screen

Click Next, and proceed to setting the parameters:

IntraVnews: Folder mode setup

At the first step, you choose where to store data of RSS feeds: all in one folder or in different folders. After that, the add-in asks you to specify the type of your Internet connection:

IntraVnews: Connection setup

The next screen handles updating of your RSS feeds. The following parameters are available: an update interval per an RSS feed, automatic updating after Outlook starts, a time filter for data to be downloaded:

IntraVnews: Download settings

You can also choose whether to download the feed content only (which undoubtedly will save your time and traffic), or both feed and HTML content.

IntraVnews: Content settings

At the last step of the installation wizard, you can see another, really nice option, that allows you to decide whether to install sample RSS channels chosen by the developers of the add-in or not. It might seem a trifle, but who can know better than yourselves what you really need. As for me, the first thing I do after installing a RSS feed or podcast reader is getting rid of all that trash that somebody considered a must.

IntraVnews: Setup sample feeds

After the installation is completed, you will be asked to choose the license type:

IntraVnews:About add-in

If you need an RSS reader for personal use, then IntraVnews is free, while the Company license will cost you $24.95. By default, the add-in works in the trial mode for 30 days, but you can obtain your personal free license at any time.

To check how IntraVnews works, I installed the RSS channels suggested by the developers of this add-in, and they were successfully updated immediately after the settings wizard finished its work. Information about the content is being downloaded at the moment is shown in a little pop-up window in the Windows system tray:

IntraVnews: Tray balloon

Let’s return to Outlook and familiarize ourselves with the add-in menu:

IntraVnews: Menu items

The Subscriptions option gives you access to managing subscriptions to all your RSS feeds:

IntraVnews: Feed details

In the Feed Details tab, you can find general information about the RSS channel: feed type, feed title, link, feed description, language etc.

The Feed Status tab gives details about the last update, last modifications and errors if there were any.

IntraVnews: Feed status

The Download Settings tab allows you to schedule feed updates (you can use the schedule suggested by the add-in or create your custom schedule for each separate feed).

In this tab I also found the filter that made me almost happy, it is the filter for duplicate items. In this filter, two comparison options are available: treating items with any match as duplicates (following match criteria: title, link and GUID and description), and treating items with any difference as new items. On this tab you can also deactivate a feed and choose if to download all HTML content for a particular feed.

IntraVnews: Download settings

The Folder Settings tab enables you to select the Outlook folder for storing new items of the current feed. Also, you can allow auto cleanup for the selected folder:

IntraVnews: Folder settings

You will need the Security tab in case the registration is required for downloading a certain RSS feed:

IntraVnews: Security settings

The Options menu item gives access to the general settings of the add-in:

IntraVnews: Options screen

This tab contains all conceivable settings, including the installation of additional plug-ins, folder settings, proxy settings, auto cleanup for folders and the ability to publish the content of RSS feeds in your own blog.

As to displaying folders in Outlook, all is standard and lucid:

IntraVnews: RSS folders

The root folder of IntraVnews houses all content of RSS feeds. Its internal structure can be customized to your own taste.

Opening any post, you will see a link to its source:

Conclusion: really nice add-in, rich in settings but not complicated, can work with podcasts, blogs and protected feeds.

NewsGator Inbox from NewsGator

Supports:

    Microsoft Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002 (XP), Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007.

  • Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista (Microsoft .NET 1.1 or later required).

NewsGator web-site

The installation wizard of this add-in offers you to choose the installation type: for all users or for your account only. This is the only aspect that requires your attention at this stage. In a few seconds the add-in is ready to work.

After starting MS Outlook, you will see the settings wizard:

NewsGator: welcome screen

At the first step, you choose the main folder for storing RSS content and the clipping folder.

NewsGator: Configuring add-in Inbox

The choice of the folder is performed in the dialog mode. This menu provides the option of creating a new folder so that if you do not want to use any of existing Outlook folders, you can create a new one on the fly:

NewsGator: Select folder

The next screen will acquaint you with default settings of NewsGator, explain to you how and where they can be changed:

NewsGator: Default Options

After that, the add-in analyzes you Internet connection. If you wish, from this screen you can access the add-in’s settings (using the Set Options button):

NewsGator: Connection analyzer

The add-in’s menu takes the habitual place on the MS Outlook toolbar:

NewsGator: Add-in menu

Until the moment when the first RSS data are received, all menu items but for NewsGator Inbox, that gives access to the settings and management of your subscription to RSS feeds, will be inactive. Later on, instant synchronization as well as search in downloaded RSS content will become available.

So, let’s look at the settings:

NewsGator: Add-in menu items

To start with the add-in, you should activate NewsGator Inbox using the appropriate menu option. Pay special attention to the proxy settings, since, by default, NewsGator uses the settings of Internet Explorer, and if in your IE the proxy is not set properly, the add-in will not be able to synchronize with their main server. (It’s a note those who like me prefer to use some alternative browsers).

The settings panel offers that same options as other add-ins of this kind: a retrieve news interval, folders for storing the RSS content, work with podcasts etc.

NewsGator: Add-in options

After successful connection with the developers’ server, you will be offered to create an account (which is free, unlike the add-in itself):

NewsGator: Account creation

If you are wishing to use the add-in in the trial mode, you just specify it.
After you are done with creating and registering the account, you can subscribe to RSS content:

NewsGator: Avaliable RSS feeds

After you select the feeds of interest, the add-in synchronizes with the server. In my case, unsuccessfully :-(

NewsGator: Synchronizing error

Let’s try with other feeds. To select the feeds you want to subscribe to, use the Feed Wizard that can be found in the menu item named Subscriptions:

NewsGator: Feed selection

This option provides a list of RSS feeds sorted by subjects. Besides, continual synchronization with the main server inspires the hope that you will always have a fresh and current list of RSS feeds.

The process of synchronization and updating the items is shown in the screenshot below:

NewsGator: Receiving RSS feeds

The whole list of subscriptions looks like this:

NewsGator: Subscriptions

The options are standard and hardly need any additional explanations. I’ll just note that you can add a desired RSS feed manually or select it from the list suggested by the developers.

Downloaded posts have a typical for Outlook look:

NewsGator: RSS content

NewsGator also has a special plug-in for working with blogs (You can find it in Settings > Posting). All main blog servers are supported:

NewsGator: Work with a blogs easy

However, blogs are beyond the pale of this review.

Thus, NewsGator has no competitors that could match its functionality and user-friendly interface. But, there is just one snag: unlike IntraVnews, it is not free.

So, if you are ready to spend $30 on the RSS reader, don’t hesitate to choose NewsGator. I’ve never seen a more comfortable tool for working with RSS feeds in Microsoft Outlook.

  RSS Popper IntravNews NewsGator Inbox
Installation 5 of 5 5 of 5 5 of 5
Usability 5 of 5 5 of 5 5 of 5
Functionality 4 of 5 5 of 5 5 of 5
Total 4.5 5 6

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