Category Archives: newsgator

NetNewsWire for iPhone now available!

The development of NetNewsWire for iPhone just might be the worst-kept secret in NewsGator’s history. But hey – that’s ok, especially since today is launch day!

NetNewsWire for iPhone uses the NewsGator Online sync platform, so you can use NetNewsWire on your Mac, FeedDemon on Windows, NewsGator Online on the web, or any of our other applications, and they will all sync together. I’ve talked about this a lot in the past…but this is really the only reasonable way to build a mobile reader, IMHO. We use mobile devices as companion devices, in addition to our desktop and/or laptop computers – they’re not the only devices we use.

The first thing to do is head on into the iTunes App Store (click the image below):

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Assuming you have iTunes 7.7 installed, that link will take you to the App store, where you can download NetNewsWire:

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And then you’re all set. Here are a few screenshots while you’re waiting for your iPhone 2.0 firmware to download!

Main screen:

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News items:

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Reading an article:

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This new app also supports clippings – so you can find articles on your phone that you’d like to read later, and save them in your clippings folders. Those folders are also synchronized to your desktop apps and the online system as well.

If I sound excited, it’s because I am. :-) So stop reading now, and go to it!

And did I mention it’s free?

NGES in 60 seconds – clippings

Onward, I say. Time for the next installment in the series, this one covering clippings.

There’s a lot of buzz about clippings in NewsGator Online (and shared items in Google Reader), especially with apps like ReadBurner making them easy to discover. There are similar use cases for clippings in the enterprise.

NewsGator Enterprise Server supports two kinds of clippings – personal clippings, and group clippings (which are shared by a group). This video covers personal clippings; group clippings will be coming next time.

View QuickTime video

YouTube version:

And don’t forget you can download a free 20-user version of NewsGator Enterprise Server. :-)

NGES in 60 seconds

As you know, we recently made NewsGator Enterprise Server free for up to 20 users. We’ve had quite a bit of response to this – thanks to everyone who has downloaded and is using it!

On a somewhat related note, I’ve decided to make a series of 60-second screencasts demonstrating some of the features of NGES. The first of these is below, on the integrated tagging features.

Why 60 seconds? I mean, as someone mentioned to me last week, the shorter the video the harder it is to edit (so true). My thought here is, everyone has time to watch a quick 1-minute video of something cool…but much more than that is tougher. So, I’m going to give the 60-second thing a shot, and we’ll see how it goes. Feedback would be appreciated!

So on to the first video. This shows the tagging system in NGES:


 
The YouTube version is a bit hard to see due to the size and quality; click here for higher quality QuickTime version.

NewsGator and APML

Back when we announced that NewsGator’s RSS clients are now free, I also mentioned that we’d be supporting APML across the entire platform. Some of our client applications implement exporting APML at the moment…but we’ve now implemented a persistent APML endpoint in our online platform. What this means is, if you’re using sync with NewsGator Online, there is a well-known URL that represents your APML attention data.

This APML endpoint can be either public or private – it’s your choice. If it’s private, it will require your NewsGator Online credentials to access. If it’s public, anyone can access it.

Here’s how to enable this:

1. From NewsGator Online, sign in and then click on the “Settings” item at the top right.

2. You’ll now see four tabs; click on “Edit Locations”.

These “locations” are actually groups of feeds; you’ll see at least one location for “NewsGator Web Edition”, and you’ll see one location for each client you’re using. Each location forms a subset of your overall list of feeds. You can control which feeds are mapped to each location by using the “Feeds” link next to each location.

3. Next to each location, you’ll see a link for “APML” – click that link.

4. You will then see your individual APML URL for that particular set of feeds. If you wish to make it public (or private), use the checkbox on that page.

At the moment, we’re exposing feed-level attention data; we have more detailed data available, but it’s not being exposed at the moment.

Let us know if this is useful, and any suggestions you have!

NewsGator Enterprise Server free for 20 users!

Ever since we first shipped NewsGator Enterprise Server back in 2005, I’ve had this blog post in the back of my mind. We never had an easy way for folks to actually take a look at the product, and kick the tires for themselves. We had demos, webinars, conferences, and all that…but you couldn’t actually download it and try it for yourself, without buying it (or entering a trial agreement).

Well today, all that changes. You can now download a free 20-user version of NewsGator Enterprise Server, install it, and use it!

Why would we do such a crazy thing? We want more people to see it. More feedback. More visibility. This product has been extremely successful – our customer list reads like a who’s who of the Fortune 500 – but it’s been primarily deployed in larger installations. But what about smaller companies, or individual departments within companies? This will hopefully remove the barriers involved in trying out these technologies. And in the latter case, we’re confident it will lead to larger sales as the deployment grows beyond the initial 20 users.

But for those first 20 folks, it’s free! As in beer.

There’s only one catch, and it’s not really a catch. Regular paying customers get dedicated support from our enterprise support team…but if you download the free version, FAQs and community support will be via the forums. That should be ok, though – we really don’t think you’re going to have many problems. One caveat, though – this is a server product, and the installation process will ask you questions about your Active Directory or LDAP configuration and such. If you don’t think you can answer those questions, you might want to find someone to help you install it.

In case you can’t tell, I’m totally excited about this. But enough of me rambling…here is the NewsGator Enterprise Server product site, technical requirements, and the download page. (you’ll have to fill out a form to download, but don’t worry, it’s short.)

Vote for the new NewsGator video!

The second round of the Enterprise 2.0 Launchpad videos are online, including a new video from NewsGator. We took a different approach than the others – rather than just a screencast, we made a spoof of The Office, showing how NewsGator Social Sites totally rocks all over the status quo.

So if you can spare two and a half minutes to watch it, head on over and vote for us! The 4 winners will be presenting their solutions on stage at Enterprise 2.0…and I promise you’re going to want to see the new stuff we’ll have at the show. :-)

Here’s the voting link: http://launchpad.enterprise2conf.com/. Make me proud!

Independent developer life

I enjoyed reading Shawn Blanc’s interview with Daniel Jalkut. I had the pleasure of working personally with Daniel when he acquired MarsEdit from us, and got to know him a little bit through that process (although never met in person).

One question that caught my eye – Shawn asked him what an average day looks like, and this was Daniel’s response:

That said, I’m still pretty disorganized in this regard, so in all honesty, a typical day for me is to wake up and immediately start working. The hours then surrender to tackling bug fixes, implementing features, responding to customer support inquiries, and trying to squeeze in some socializing via chat and Twitter.

Left to my own devices I will work all day and into the night, so I’ve developed some tricks to get myself away from the computer. Forcing myself to take a shower, make lunch, go to the gym, etc., are good ways of punctuating the work with other activities. This is something I hope to write more about in my blog, because as I said, it fascinates me.

It’s funny to read this…when NewsGator was just me, and I was still running it all in my house, this was exactly my situation. I found I had to have a “routine” – I would shower in the morning by 11am at the latest, and I would nearly always go have lunch with friends (or at very least get out of the house and eat). Otherwise, I would find myself getting hungry about 3pm, have a quick snack, and the next thing I would know it would be midnight and I’d be hungry again, wondering where the day went.

And there’s an advantage to all those lunches – many of the folks I ate with gave me some free consulting over burritos, and now work at NewsGator. :-)

NewsGator feed retrieval intervals

I was just reading an article about Google Reader and their retrieval intervals, and thought this might be a good time to write about what NewsGator Online does. This is relevant for not only online users, but anyone who is using one of our clients (FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, Inbox, Go!, etc) in sync mode, since in that mode the clients retrieve content from our online system.

One of the more common questions/complaints we get is something about a feed not appearing to update in a timely manner. 99% of the time, it’s actually a problem with the feed – but I’ll come back to that.

There are about 2.5 million feeds in our system, and these feeds get divided into categories. They have fancy (and sometimes amusing) internal names, but for now I will describe them as follows. Also keep in mind these rules are subject to change, and in fact do change quite often to better optimize the experience for our users and our overall system load.

And before I get into all of this…note that feeds that ping our system will be updated and available typically within 60 seconds. The category the feed is in is largely irrelevant.

Category A: these are feeds that are needed by certain commercial syndication services customers with extremely tight SLAs – some of these SLAs guarantee content available within 2 minutes of publication in a feed. Feeds in this category are retrieved every 60 seconds. Exception – if a feed reliably pings our system with updates, the poll-retrieval interval may be dropped to a lower category; however, if the feed does not appear to ping us with every update, the 60 second interval remains in effect.

Category B: these are feeds with over 20 subscribers, or occasional feeds that for whatever reason are deemed “important” enough to keep in this category. Retrieval interval is 15 minutes.

Category C: these are feeds with 2-19 subscribers, and any feed that requires credentials to access. These feeds are retrieved every 1-2 hours depending on system load.

Category D: these are feeds with only 1 subscriber, which do not require credentials. If that subscriber is an “active user”, interval is 1-2 hours. If that subscriber is not very active, interval is 4-8 hours depending on load. The definition of “active” changes, but think of it as people who use the system daily-ish.

Category E: this is what we affectionately call the “penalty box.” These are feeds which have returned some kind of error, and they are “penalized” for it. For example – if a feed 404′s, it is immediately penalized for 24 hours. A 500 server error? 4 hours. Other kinds of errors (including parsing problems) cause penalties of varying lengths, taking into account how many consecutive errors we see. If a feed continues to have errors for 90 days, it will be blacklisted and no longer retrieved at all…and the only way for a feed to get off the blacklist is for it to a) fix the error(s) and then b) ping us. [I should add that 410 (gone) is not considered an error; feeds that return a 410 are immediately removed and all subscribers are unsubscribed.]

Category F: this is somewhat of a grab bag of other cases. The most visible type of feed in this category is craigslist feeds – we retrieve them on a 48-hour interval. This sucks – for you, for me, for everyone – but the problem is craigslist will throttle and blacklist us, and they seem not to be interested in solving this problem with us (we’re also not the only ones with this problem). So 48 hours is roughly the minimum interval we can get away with and minimize the chances of getting blacklisted (which takes days to undo).

By far the best way to help ensure timely updates to content is to encourage publishers to ping our system when they update (I talk about NewsGator’s ping endpoint here). A large number already do this – but there are some folks who do not. If they’re using FeedBurner, we’re already getting pinged; if they’re using another system, they may need to add NewsGator to their ping list manually. But typically, after a ping, updated content is available within 60 seconds. And as mentioned, a ping can even remove content from our blacklist.

We get a fair number of inquiries in the forums and elsewhere about feeds not updating; in nearly all of those instances, everything is actually working fine – the feed has usually fallen into category E for whatever reason. Something I’ve been thinking about is some kind of status page or something where someone can type in the name of a feed, and we’ll display status for that feed (including why it’s in the penalty box if it is)…we’ve resisted doing this because it’s just one of those things our users shouldn’t have to worry about.

NewsGator subscriber counts

I’ve noticed a few posts around the web (here’s the latest) expressing a bit of confusion about how NewsGator (and NetNewsWire, FeedDemon, NewsGator Inbox, and NewsGator Go!) subscriber counts are reported. So here’s the skinny.

When FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, or NewsGator Inbox are running in stand-alone mode, that is with sync NOT enabled, they will retrieve feeds directly from the source using their own user-agent. When you look in your Feedburner (or other) stats, you’ll see these show up as NetNewsWire, FeedDemon, etc.

When NewsGator Online retrieves your feed, it reports total subscriber count as part of the user-agent. It’s retrieving your feed once on behalf of lots of users.

Now here’s the part that causes confusion. When FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, or NewsGator Inbox ARE in sync mode (which is the default mode unless turned off), they will retrieve the content from NewsGator Online’s feed store; they will NOT retrieve content from the source. When you look at your Feedburner stats (or whatever you’re using to determine RSS reader distribution), these subscribers will be reported as NewsGator Online users.

Related to this, you will never see NewsGator Go! in your stats – this is because Go! only works in sync mode, and always retrieves content through NewsGator Online…and thus subscriber counts are reported as part of the online counts.

If a single user uses (say) FeedDemon, Inbox, Go!, and NewsGator Online all synced together, they’ll be reported to you as a single subscriber – not as 4 subscribers.

Folks have asked us if we could split out the statistics, to more “accurately” report statistics for the individual client applications. This is actually harder than it sounds, due to the seamless nature of our sync platform. Our system knows if a user is using, say, NetNewsWire and Go! both; however, it’s usually unknown which of those applications a user is going to use to read a specific piece of content in advance. We could report one user for both apps, but this would overstate our subscriber counts. So essentially we compromise, and report them all as NewsGator Online – which is sometimes confusing, but accurately counts users, rather than applications.

NewsGator’s RSS clients are now free!

We’ve got a lot of big news today at NewsGator.

First, we’ve got new releases of our most popular applications: FeedDemon 2.6, NetNewsWire 3.1, Inbox 3.0 (beta), and NewsGator Go! for Windows Mobile 2.0. Each of these is a pretty major release on its own – tons of new features in all of them.

But second, every one of those applications is now free! Free as in beer, that is. And add to the free list NewsGator Go! for BlackBerry as well. And not only are they free, but our online services (including synchronization) are now free as well! Not to mention our iPhone reader, HTML mobile reader, and all of the other applications that are part of our online platform.

I haven’t been this excited about our consumer products and strategy since we bought FeedDemon and NetNewsWire a couple of years ago.

But I can hear you asking already…”why, Greg, why would you do such a thing?”

What we’re working to do is to saturate the market with our clients. Anyone who wants a rich experience for consuming content, or anyone who uses multiple computers or devices and wants a best-of-breed experience on each can now use our clients. Using a Mac at home, along with an iPhone? NetNewsWire and our iPhone reader will sync up. Have a PC at the office? FeedDemon will sync with your other two applications. And they’ll all sync with NewsGator Online. It all just works.

There are two reasons we want our clients to become ubiquitous. Well, three if you count “we want to be nice.” But two other reasons. :-)

First, we’ve found that when we go into an enterprise to sell NewsGator Enterprise Server (NGES) and Social Sites, there are already a ton of people using one of our desktop apps already. The more folks are already using them, the easier it is to sell our server products – especially since these client apps can sync with NGES directly. So, the more the merrier – we’re going to make sure that everyone who wants to use our apps can do so, without having to climb over the hump of having to dig out their credit card.

And second, we want to collect “attention” data (actually I like to call this activity data, but everyone else in the world calls it attention) and use it to make everyone’s experience better. If there is a specific feed you love, and you’re constantly emailing its articles to friends or saving articles in your clippings, that’s interesting…and if there are a lot of people doing this, it’s probably a good indicator about the “relevancy” of that content for other users. Similar with individual articles that are getting a lot of attention from users. Basically, by using your data, in combination with aggregate data from other users, we can deliver a better experience for everyone. And that’s a good thing – both for us and for you.

We’ve taken some small steps along these lines so far in the client applications – watch over the next few months as these capabilities really start to come into their own, and roll out both in the online reader and continue to evolve in the clients.

We’ve talked about APML in the past, and said we’d implement APML export in the clients. We’re going to take that a step further – and implement an endpoint in our online platform where you (and only you!) can always access your personal APML data. That data will be a rollup of all of your activity across all of our clients that you use. We’re also going to make aggregate data available via API. You should start to see all of this start rolling out within the next couple of months.

So anyway – this is great news! I’m personally really excited about this, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you. There are a lot of details I didn’t cover here…so here are a couple of links with more info.

Press release

Q&A – details as to upgrades, refunds, etc.