When Google announced it would be switching off Google Reader, I have to admit that I was a bit surprised. Google Reader is as much part of my professional daily routine as email, my browsers, web stats, design, search and SEO tools.
For me, Google Reader was the tool of choice for aggregating all the myriad of RSS feeds from the business world – I watch a wide mix of government departments, professional bodies, agencies, quangos, trade associations and news channels for anything of interest that might affect the SME world. When I find a topic of importance I write articles for the business website that I’ve been working at for the last 13 years.
So yes, when it was announced that Google Reader would shut down I was surprised and a little bit concerned too.
I suppose, when you think about it, Google was not making money from its Reader, so from a purely financial point of view, it’s understandable that it has been placed on the chopping block.
But at the same time Google does offer a number of other services for free – Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Gmail etc. However, even if some of these are not monetised they are of benefit to Google – Just by using Analytics Google have all my website data, they know who, where, when, what… That’s all incredibly valuable information that we give them in exchange for an industry standard “free” tool.
But what about the alternative to Google Reader?
I say alternative in the singular sense because I have just one option that I would like to recommend. In fairness I should probably suggest a number of alternative readers but I just don’t have the time to research, and besides, there are other places you can look where they suggest “X alternatives”, so feel free to Google it.
The answer was starring me right in the face – it was on my desktop – Mozilla SeaMonkey.
SeaMonkey, for those of you who don’t know, is an alternative browser from Mozilla. It is very similar to older versions of Firefox, in terms of look and feel (Firebird, even, remember that?) but also has built-in news groups, email, HTML editor and IRC chat. Oh, and it has RSS feeds too!
So, this underutilised browser that I love to use, aside Firefox, was my RSS reader. I had to import all my feeds to SeaMonkey but it now works like a charm. I know that there are other, potentially more polished and shiny readers but I like Seamonkey and it is not in the popular lists of Google Reader alternatives, so I’m sticking up for it and suggesting that if you need a new reader (browser, mail & chat client) that you give SeaMonkey a go.
The best way to use SeaMonkey’s built in RSS feed reader is to boot up SeaMonkey and, from the homepage click CTRL-2 and wait for the feed window to open. Et voila, your new alternative feed reader. Enjoy.