NewsGator, makers of the NewsGator news aggregator, announced the release of version 2.0 last month, adding a slew of significant new features, including a subscription-driven online service that provides access to exclusive content, the ability to view RSS feeds from virtually any device anywhere, and the capacity to extend the program to work with enterprise data delivered as RSS feeds.
"I've been looking at and reviewing various programs and utilities, and I believe NewsGator is going to jet past the pack when 2.0 hits the streets," says Chris Pirillo, who runs Lockergnome's RSS Resource, a site devoted to RSS information. A news aggregator is a software package that reads and displays content delivered in the form of an RSS feed—an XML standard for content syndication.
There are several reasons for this leap forward. Version 1.x of the NewsGator software offered a desktop client that worked in Outlook. Version 2.0 extends beyond Outlook, to work from any POP3 mail client, a Web-based client, and a mobile edition that runs on any Web-enabled mobile device. This provides a way to get RSS news feeds from anywhere, and with a new synchronization system users never have to read the same story twice, regardless of which device they access NewsGator. This flexibility impresses Pirillo, who says, "As far as their Web, POP, and mobile services are concerned, they're spot on."
The new version also includes an online subscription service, which provides access to exclusive online content ranging from technical content from CMP and InfoWorld to things like Full Tilt Features comic strips. What this means is that NewsGator is licensing content from publishers and allowing users to view the complete article in their device of choice rather than reading an excerpt and clicking a link to go to the publisher's Web site to view the content—an especially useful feature for users accessing their content from a mobile device. (NewsGator would not discuss the terms of the licensing agreements citing contractual confidentiality.)
Greg Reinacker, president of NewsGator, hopes the non-technical content will help push RSS further into the mainstream. "There is a stigma with RSS about being geeky, so we've tried to come up with content that appeals to mainstream." Lockergnome's Pirillo sees the exclusive content as a nice add-on, but he doesn't necessarily believe that this feature will propel the news aggregator market into the mainstream as Reinacker hopes. "Right now, it's a value-add for those who already understand what a news aggregator is. It's not going to bring people en masse to the idea of desktop syndication," he says.
The service, which begins at $5.95 per month, also gives users access to custom searches. These allow you to enter any information (such as a company name) and check that search query against a variety of search engines such as Feedster and Technorati, as well as any site on the Web where the search query gets mentioned. The $5.95 rate includes access to two such custom searches and to the exclusive online content.
NewsGator has built a set of APIs (application program interfaces) into version 2.0 that allows enterprise users to extend NewsGator to capture enterprise data offered in the form of RSS feeds. "It's always been possible to extend RSS feeds, the problem is no mainstream tool would do anything with the data and look at it," Reinacker says. He says Motorola is using this capability to track the progress of patents in NewsGator. By using a number, such as an internal tracking number or the Patent Office submission number, and connecting this to an RSS feed, they are able to track the stages of the patent submission process inside NewsGator.
Lockergnome's Pirillo likes what he sees in the new version. "They've got ‘everything' an information addict could want. Now, if only we could get content providers to dump the idea of publishing solely via email or the Web.