capsule review

endo 1.0

Taking an unusual approach with its layout, endo 1.0.21, an RSS news reader, abandons the traditional e-mail-like interface most news readers use and replaces it with a space-saving design that devotes more screen real estate to individual articles. This works very well.

On startup, endo did a spectacular job of importing my old subscriptions. Not only did it recognize and seamlessly import all of my feeds, but it also kept them organized in their original groups.

In the typical RSS reader model, subscriptions or groups essentially act as mailboxes. Individual article headlines or titles appear in something like an e-mail subject window, and the full text of the feed appears in another window, where you’d be used to seeing the full text of an e-mail message. Instead, endo’s layout, which the company says is designed to keep up with a continuous flow of information from multiple sources, places groups across the top of the application window—rather than in the same window pane as the feeds they contain.

Subscriptions and article headlines sit together in the left-side window, and directional-arrow keystrokes can expand or collapse the actual articles, which appear in the right-hand window. This interface makes it easy to navigate from subscription to subscription, and even group to group, without taking a hand off the keyboard to grab a mouse.

I do have a minor quibble with the layout. If you have a large number of groups (I have 25), not all of them will fit across the top of the window—I had room for 19 when running the app full-size on a 20-inch LCD monitor—and considerably fewer (13) would fit on my 12-inch PowerBook. It was difficult to jump to groups without being able to see where I was going, even using keyboard commands.

While the navigation takes some getting used to, other features are instantly accessible. Among the most useful is an inbox that lists all new articles from various feeds, combined into one central group. Thus, rather than checking several individual groups throughout the day, a quick glance at your inbox will show you what’s new. Another nice touch is an optional notification feature that can alert you as new items come in. For example, when endo is running in the background, you can choose to have a small, translucent window appear briefly on your screen or desktop, with the feed, article title, and a brief summary.

For feed-checking addicts, these are both great ways to quickly sort through what’s new. The built-in endoBot helper can also automatically download enclosures, such as podcasts, in the background. It will even import them into iTunes. And media junkies will rejoice: The bot supports BitTorrent, a protocol for downloading large files, such as movies and music—which usually requires a separate, stand-alone application. It will also play movies from YouTube and Google Video without forcing you to launch a browser. The software also includes an excellent AppleScript-ready search feature, and you can even search for items using Spotlight, either from the Finder or from within endo.

endo handles smart groups well and makes it easy to drill down into your subject matter. For example, you can create a smart group that looks for all your feeds that have both “iPod” and “accessory” listed in the content to stay on top of iPod accessory news. You can also build keyword- or tag-based feeds from del.icio.us, the social bookmarking site; Flickr, the photo sharing site; and Technorati’s Weblog aggregation service. In turn, you can tag items in your feed and submit them to del.icio.us, or send items to your blogging application of choice.

Macworld’s buying advice

endo 1.0.21 is a good choice for feed addicts with a lot of subscriptions, especially those who are also bloggers or who download lots of media files. I have never used a better RSS news reader. Although NetNewsWire has long been a favorite , endo is set to give it a race.

[ Mathew Honan is a San Francisco freelancer whose work has also appeared in Wired, Salon, and Time. You can view his blog at mac.honan.net. ]

(DISCLAIMER: The endo RSS news reader, created by Kula, is a competing product to NetNewsWire. Mac Publishing, publisher of Macworld, recently entered into a business relationship with NewsGator, publisher of NetNewsWire, that will include providing services on Macworld.com and selling a news reader application based on NetNewsWire.)

You can build keyword- or tag-based feeds from del.icio.us, Flickr, and Technorati, and in turn, you can tag items in your feed and submit them to del.icio.us.A group showing all new Flickr photos tagged with “Mac”.
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