Product Reviews

NewsGator

Rounding up the best news via RSS.

I've mentioned NewsGator before, but now that 1.0 is officially released, it's time for a review. NewsGator is an RSS aggregator that integrates into Microsoft Outlook 2000 or 2002. RSS is an acronym that's had various meanings, but I like "Rich Site Syndication" myself. What RSS provides is a simple XML file format that can encompass headlines, news, and other frequently-updated information. For example, point your browser at http://www.thundermain.com/rss/ and you can see the RSS format displaying the most recent files available from the Microsoft Download Center.

There are thousands of RSS feeds out there (including my own, which you can get to from the standard orange XML buttons on the front page of http://www.larkware.com). They cover everything from major news sites to tiny weblogs. Entire sites such as http://www.syndic8.com/ exist just to catalog this avalanche of information.

What NewsGator does is give you a tool to help manage RSS feeds in an Outlook environment. After you tell it which feeds you're interested in, it polls them at regular intervals (once an hour is about right for most). Then, any new items show up in a folder in Outlook. You can aggregate everything into one folder, do a separate folder for each feed, or anything in between. There's also an HTML page that gets generated in the main NewsGator folder with links to all the recent content you've grabbed.

Other nice little touches include the ability to right-click on a feed in IE and add it to NewsGator's list and newsfeed searching directly from within Outlook. And of course you can use any of Outlook's native tools for organizing the news when it arrives.

There are lots of free RSS aggregators out there. I thought enough of NewsGator after beta testing it to pay for it almost immediately upon release. You can download a 14-day trial from the NewsGator Web site if you'd like to see for yourself.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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