NetNewsWire Pro Beta

I’ve posted about news aggregators before, including NetNewsWire, the “lite” sibling of NetNewsWire Pro, currently in beta. While the “lite” version is primarilly a news reading front end for various Mac sites, NetNewsWire Pro from Brent Simmons of Ranchero Software is a full featured Mas OS X 10.2.3 news aggreator and web blog editor. Subscribing to an .rss based news feed couldn’t be simpler; either you select them from the generous (and multilingual) collection included in the Sites Drawer, or you can copy the .rss URL from a site, click the Subscribe icon, and paste the URL into a simple dialog. Reading is simpler still, with easily understandable naviagation commends and menu options (though I think “Mark Others Read” would be a useful addition).

NetNewsWIre Pro also lets you post to web logs, principally Blogger, Userland Radio, Bloxom, MoveableType and Manilla blogs, among others. The tools you’d want are all there—including autmatically generating a post from a news item, Post and Preview (the Live Preview is a nifty feature), and you needn’t know HTML. There are simple tools for creating links and setting text style, and if you do know HTML, there’s even a configurable pop-down menu for custom tags. Best of all though (at least to my way of thinking) is you can spell check your posts. There’s even a convenient Notepad for copying bits of text to turn into a post, complete with basic but very functional outlining tools (the Notepad very cleverly saves automatically).

It’s still beta, but already I’m doing almost all my web blog reading in NetNewsWire Pro, and I’m going to keep trying it for posting as well. I’ve two blogs, this one built with Radio Userland, and this one built with Blogger. This post was made using NetNewsWire Pro. NNW really is an elegant example of a good Mac OS X Cocoa-based tool. It makes excellent use of the underlying frameworks to provide niceties like spell check and interface elements, and Simmons has even made some of his code available to other developers.

This is one of those applications that seems deceptively simple, but that actually does rather a lot. It has enormous potential for teaching; I hope I have an opportunity to use it with a class.