From Bloglines to Rojo - and back

May 28, 2006

Ever since I started using RSS to keep up with the blogs and news sites I read every day, I’ve been using Bloglines. The reasons are simple: it’s easy to use, it’s fairly quick (although there have been some issues in the past) and it’s web-based, so I can access it from any computer I like. In between I’ve tried out desktop based readers, but since I’m doing most of my work in Linux, there’s not much of a choice here. aKregator is the default reader for KDE, and although it’s an excellent desktop feedreader, the fact that I’m switching computers once in a while has always turned me off desktop apps. Unless there’s synchronisation with web-based service involved, I won’t be using on of the local apps anytime soon.

Well, lately I’ve been getting a bit fed up with Bloglines. While I’m still satisfied with the things they offer (for free!), I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about Rojo. Rojo is another web-based feedreader, and it offers all sorts of features I think I’d like to use. During the last few months, I’ve tried using Rojo a few times. I uploaded my OPML, tagged my feeds (a feature non-existent in Bloglines, unfortunately) and started using. But my tries never lasted longer than a day or two. Why? Well, take a look at what I see when I open up the sites in my browser:

Bloglines

This is Bloglines. It may look overly spartan, ugly even, but the interface is rather clean, and with one quick glance, I’ve got a nice overview of the situation.

Rojo

And this is Rojo. The left column, which ideally should allow me to quickly see what is going on, is extremely cluttered. In contrast to Bloglines, Rojo always displays certain items from my feeds on the front-page, something I don’t really need nor like, mainly because I want to decide myself what to read first.

But Rojo does have many features Bloglines doesn’t, and that’s why I keep coming back, seeing if maybe my cluttered-frontpage threshold of pain has changed since my last try. Rojo offers a lot for the socially inclined. You can “mojo up” a story, thereby feeding an algorithm that allows certain items to be displayed more prominently than others. They are also into tags a lot, something Bloglines isn’t.

Rojo is by far the feedreader with the most features. And this, quite frankly, is also its problem. It’s being dragged down by the weight of its features, providing not only an overkill in features, but also a cluttered, slow interface. Bloglines on the other hand doesn’t give a damn about new features, risking frustration by long-time users, but also giving them a reason to not stray for longer than a few days (like me).

I will stay with Bloglines until Rojo stops adding features and starts concentrating on speed and readability.