My Experience with Akregator Feed Reader

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Back in March I started looking for a new feed reader. I had been using Opera's built in RSS capabilities, but it didn't offer the control I was looking for. As a KDE user my first stop was Akregator and I never felt the need to look anywhere else.

Getting Started

My first step was importing my Opera feeds into Akregator. This turned out to be a simple process of exporting the newsfeed list from Opera and pointing Akregator to it. The import went smoothly. My only complaint is that the feeds were not automatically alphabetized. Once my feeds were ready I started organizing them by folder and was ready to go.

Navigation and Layout

There are three possible views modes: Normal, Widescreen, and Combined. Normal splits the screen into two sections, one above the other. Widescreen mode places them side-by-side. Combined has a single list with each article list a title and summary together. I use the widescreen mode so I will focus on it.

The widescreen mode is organized into a three pane interface. The left pane contains the feeds themselves. It's a simple matter to organize them and manually fetch feeds. I also like that you can tell it to fetch an individial feed, a folder full or feeds, or all feeds. Feeds titles are bolded and have a number in parenthesis when there are unread items.

The other two panes are tied together in a tabbed interface and sit below a search bar. The search is very convenient, particularly when trying to find an article I recently read. There is also a drop down that filters between All, Unread, New, and Important articles. I primarily use Unread.

The center pane contains the article list, with columns displaying the title, feed, and date of each entry. New articles are shown in a red font. Older unread articles have a blue font.

The right most pane displays the content of the feed item. When you click a link on this pane a new tab will be spawned that loads in the background. I like this behavior because it allows me to continue going through my feeds while allowing the pages to be loaded for later reading. There is also an option to launch links in an external browser if you prefer. I did prefer to I set them to launch in a new page in Opera. More details on that in the next section.

Configuration

Akregator's configuration dialog contains five sections. The General icon allows you to turn off the system tray icon, use notifications, and change the interval for fetching feeds, along with a few other items. I find the system tray icon to be a useful resource in monitoring my feeds. It displays the number of unread messages overlayed on the icon.

The Archive page sets how long articles should be kept.

Appearance allow you to adjust the fonts.

Browser sets the behavior for left and middle mouse clicks, along with defining which program to use for external browsing. I set it to use "opera -newpage %u" as a custom command.

The final page is Advanced. It gives you a option to define an amount of time prior to clicking on an article before it is marked as read.

Problem Areas

When I click on a folder I like to hit the left arrow twice instead of using my mouse to get to the oldest unread item. Unfortunately there is a lag in the display that doesn't occur when using my mouse. I'm not sure what is happening there, but it is an unnecessary delay and should be fixed.

The columns widths for Folders and Feeds should be different. The default view for a folder adds a Feed column, which is great, but once I get the three columns sized correctly I end up with a lot of blank space when viewing an individual feed. Keeping these separate would create more usable space.

Support seems non-existant. There is no included documentation and the wiki on the web site is mostly empty pages. There really should be more resources available.

Wish List

The ability to sync with an online RSS reader like Google Reader would be great. This would be an efficient way to keep Akregator synced between multiple computers as well as allow access directly through an online reader from any connecting computer. Syncing not only the same feeds, but also updating information on what has been read and even adding tags would be an awesome feature.

There should be a detection feature when multiple sites link to the same story and only one of them should be displayed. The others should still be viewable if you want to click down into the list.

Additional tags items beyond "important".

Conclusion

Akregator is a fine app that meets my key needs admirably. It makes managing my list of feeds an efficient process. The configurability to use it's built in browser or an external one is a nice touch and the search makes finding a topic easy. It should meet the needs of most users, but it would be nice to see some more advanced options added in the future.

Searching for Google Reader support in Kontact

It's quite sad that after three years, a Google search for Akregator Google Reader brings up only this page and a few unrelated results. I plan to suggest this on IRC, although I expect they already know that it is missing...

So how did you tweak Opera?

How did you tweak Opera to pass the RSS feed you clicked on to Akregator?

I use multiple bwoers and would like them all to default to Akregator but Opera wants to handle RSS feeds you click on while using Opera. I have tried changing the preferences but so far I haven't stumbled on the right combination.

Great article!

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