Feed reader survey

In October 2004, rssfeeds.be (no longer active) sent a survey to the authors of the most popular RSS aggregators with the aim of building a database containing information about the features each program offers. This is our response.

NOTE: Our answers relate to Awasu 2.0.3. The help pages that have been linked to are for 2.0 and are therefore a little out-of-date with respect to 2.0.3. Some of the questions have been edited for clarity.

 

Survey questions

  1. Can feed content be archived?
    Yes. Each channel can be configured to archive its feed content for a given amount of time.
  2. Does the program support Atom?
    Yes. Awasu supports all versions of RSS and Atom v0.3.
  3. Is auto-discovery supported?
    Yes. Awasu will detect <LINK> tags in any page that is browsed to. Awasu is also intelligent enough to locate links that might be RSS feeds.

    If the user mistakenly enters the address of an HTML page instead of an XML feed when trying to subscribe to a channel, Awasu will instead search that page for <LINK> tags and possible feed URL's.

  4. Does the program let channels be grouped together?
    Yes. Awasu has a very flexible way of grouping channels which allows channels to appear in more than one group. Hotkeys can be configured to switch quickly between different groups.
  5. Is it possible to blog from within the program?
    Yes. Awasu can be easily integrated with any web-based or locally-installed program (not just blogging tools).
  6. Can item comments be viewed?
    Yes. Each item provides a link that can be clicked on to go to an item's comments.
  7. Is it possible to export to HTML, PDF or other formats?
    Yes. Awasu has an extremely flexible and powerful export mechanism that lets content be exported in any format.

    Awasu can also be configured to run exports at regular intervals and send the results somewhere. This is extremely useful for tasks such as keeping your blogroll up-to-date e.g. choose which channels to include and then configure Awasu to periodically export them as HTML and upload the results to your web server.

  8. Are there any pre-configured feeds?
    Awasu only installs a single feed by default, the Awasu news feed, since we don't believe in cluttering peoples' computers with stuff they probably won't want.

    However, we offer a wide selection of channels that users can browse and subscribe to if they want to. This can be done at any time, not just after Awasu has been installed. We regularly update this list of channels, removing dead feeds and adding news ones.

  9. Is it possible to filter the content?
    Yes. Channels can be configured to show precisely the content you are interested in. For example:

    • All items, or just unread or new ones.
    • Only unread items received within the last 2 weeks.
    • The last 20 items, regardless of when they were received or if they have been read.

    Search agents can also be created that constantly monitor channels, looking for and alerting you to things that you are interested in.

  10. Can hotkeys be defined?
    Yes. Awasu has an extremely flexible UI with many configuration options. See below for more details.
  11. Is HTTP compression supported?
    Yes. Awasu supports compressed feeds and HTTP 304 Not Modified.

    In the interests of conserving bandwidth, Awasu can be configured to suspend all channel updates at certain times e.g. after-hours at the office, if you leave it running overnight. Also, if the feed publisher requests that a feed not be polled at certain times (via the <skipDays> and <skipHours> tags), Awasu will respect that.

  12. Does the program let you use different browsers?
    Awasu can be configured to use Internet Explorer or Mozilla as its embedded browser. When opening external windows, it will used the default browser. Awasu also provides a feature to override IE's insistence on opening external windows in IE and use the default browser instead.
  13. Is there a built-in feed validator?
    Awasu integrates with feedvalidator.org. This is configurable.
  14. Can the UI be customized e.g. colours, fonts, etc.?
    Yes. Awasu has a very configurable UI. Some of the customization options are:

    Users also have complete control over the look-and-feel of channels and how their content is presented.

  15. Can feed content be sent by email from within the program?
    Yes. Users can select an item and start their email client with the item already inserted in the message. The message format is configurable.

    Awasu also comes with a standard channel hook that automatically sends out emails when new content arrives.

  16. Can the program run in different languages?
    Awasu is currently available in English only.
  17. Does the program notify you when retrieving new content?
    Yes. Each channel can be configured to notify you in one or more ways when new content is received e.g. play a sound (a different one for each channel if you want) and/or show a notification balloon and/or animate the system tray icon.
  18. Can content be read offline?
    Yes. Awasu archives feed content which can be read while not connected to the Internet. A feature will be added in 2.0.4 to integrate with Internet Explorer's "offline mode" so that Awasu will also be able to show IE's cached content.
  19. Can OPML files be exported and imported?
    Yes. Awasu can import channels from an OPML file and its powerful export mechanism allows information to be exported in any format e.g. OPML, OCS, XML, HTML, CSV, plain-text, etc.
  20. Can a proxy server be configured?
    Yes.
  21. Can feed content be marked as read or unread?
    Yes. Awasu also highlights new items that have been received since you last looked at a channel.
  22. Can you change how often channels are updated?
    Yes. How often each channel is updated can be configured individually.
  23. Can the program be minimized to the system tray?
    Yes. The system tray menu can also be configured to include your favorite channels and their latest items.

  24. Does the program allow feed URL's to be drag-and-dropped in to subscribe?
    This feature will be added soon.
  25. Is tabbed browsing available?
    Yes. Awasu also supports OneNote-style tabbed windows.
  26. Is there any integration with search portals to find RSS feeds?
    Awasu comes pre-configured with support for Google, Feedster, Technorati, News Is Free, Syndic8 and dictionary.com. The user can also easily configure more.

    There is also support for monitoring Google search results as an RSS feed.

 

More survey questions

Wow. A whole lot of questions and even more answers! But we thought of some more questions that you might ask about an aggregator (and no, these aren't biased in any way whatsoever towards Awasu's strengths).

Well, OK, maybe just a little bit...

  1. How much does it cost?
    It's absolutely free! We offer several versions of Awasu but virtually all of the features available in the paid versions are also in the free version to some degree. For example, you may have up to 5 channel reports in the free Personal Edition but an unlimited number in the paid versions.
  2. Can feed content be searched?
    Yes. Awasu uses advanced search technology that lets you search through your archived content using a powerful query language.

    Search agents can also be created that constantly monitor channels, looking for and alerting you to things that you are interested in.

  3. If the program is run on more than one computer (e.g. at home and at work), is there any capability to keep the two synchronized?
    Yes. Awasu has a comprehensive synchronization feature that lets you keep everything in sync, not just your channel subscriptions and read/unread items. This includes your hotkey settings, reports, channel favorites, everything. The sync files can be transferred either manually (e.g. via email, USB drive, floppy disk, etc.) or automatically via FTP, SCP, SFTP, etc.
  4. Are there any scripting capabilities?
    Yes. Scripting is one of Awasu's most powerful features. Instead of being able to monitor only RSS and Atom feeds, plugins can be written to extract information from anywhere and channel it into Awasu. For example, the latest information can be retrieved from corporate databases, scraped from web sites or queried from web services, then converted into feeds that can all be monitored within Awasu.

    Channel hooks are even more powerful. Instead of simply retrieving all this information and passively displaying it to the user, hooks can be written to actively monitor and analyze the incoming data, then act upon it.

    Awasu's advanced XML features also provide a lot of power without you even having to write a single line of code. Channels can be configured to submit requests to a web service (perhaps using SOAP) and the response converted into RSS using XSLT. Awasu can immediately leverage all of the information being made available by web services, either in a corporate intranet or on the Internet.

  5. Are SSL and authenticated feeds supported?
    Yes.
  6. Is podcasting supported?
    Support for enclosures will be added in 2.0.4.
  7. Are XML redirects supported?
    Yes.
  8. Are RSS extensions such as Dublin Core, xhtml:body and content:encoded supported?
    Yes. Awasu will also soon be able to recognize user-defined information embedded within feeds.
  9. Does the program require the .NET runtime to be installed?
    No. Awasu is written in C++ and runs fast!
  10. Does the program come with an installer/uninstaller?
    Yes. Users simply have to download and run the installer. Nothing else is required.

    Additional plugins and other add-ons can be downloaded, free of charge, from our web site.

  11. Is there any online help? Is there any support available?
    Yes. Awasu has the most comprehensive help we have seen for any aggregator. It is available online and a CHM version can also be downloaded for offline use.

    Support is provided in our forums and via email.

  12. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about the program?
    Where to begin?! Some of the other features Awasu offers are:

    • A tool to clean up dead channels and channels that haven't received any new content for a long time.

    • Channels can be set to expire after a certain amount of time. This is useful when subscribing to comment feeds or to channels you are not sure if you are going to want to keep.

    • Some aggregators only have global settings that apply to every single channel but Awasu lets you configure every aspect of a channel individually, from how often it updates, to how it looks, to how it lets you know when new content has been received.You can even override the channel details that the feed publisher provides!

    • And finally, just a reminder that everything that you've just read about Awasu on this page, it's free!