I forget how I came upon Bloglines but it was not long after I began blogging. Bloglines is technically an aggregator. It takes those syndication feeds that you see on so many websites (RSS, Atom, XML) and monitors them for new posts and aggregates them into a nice user interface so that you are only presented with the updated sites. It also allows you to publish the list of site that you monitor onto your own website/blog. Bloglines requires that you set up a free account in order to aggregate feeds. The process is painless and you even get a free blog in the deal. I have not used mine, but it is there no less. Here is a screenshot when I first checked my feeds this evening:
Notice in the left pane I am presented only with blogs that have new posts. I’m told how many new posts there are and by clicking on the blog name, the new posts are displayed in the right pane. Depending on how the feed is setup and also on my settings in bloglines, I am either presented with the entire post or just a teaser. By clicking on the post title in the right pane, another window (a new tab in the really cool browsers) opens displaying the permalink of that post. This is great if you want to go ahead and comment on that particular post. You can also click on the particular blogs name in the right pane and open the blog itself. I do most of my blog reading right in the bloglines interface.
Now, to aggregate blogs into your bloglines account you must subscribe to your blogs of choice. You can do this by entering a blog’s URL into bloglines directly or by using a neat little plug-in that adds a ‘subscribe to’ option in your context menu (right click). Some Bloglines users include a ‘subcribe with Bloglines’ button on their site — bottom right column of mine. You have a choice of subscribing to a blog as public or private. You can only publish public subscriptions, surprise, surprise. You can also place the subscription into a particular folder and you can then publish per folder. This allows you to effectively build multiple blog lists. To publish your blog list(s) you click on the share tab and answer some questions and build the html code to place into your blog.
Another really cool feature is the clippings option. If I am reading a particularly interesting post I can clip it to my clipping tab and then return to it whenever I get around to consider it more deeply or perhaps blog on it myself. Also, there is a notifier that you can use in your browser that places a blue B in the lower right of your browser. If the blue B also has a red dot there are new posts to read.
Another feature you might find interesting is creating email subscriptions. This allows you to create an unlimited number of Bloglines email addresses that will show up in your subscription list. Be careful as these are not your typical email addresses. If you unsubscribe to any of the email addresses they become invalid.
One final plus is the fact that Bloglines is web-based which means I can access my account from any computer with web access and no special software is required.
There is one thing I need to point out that is somewhat a downer and that is staying in touch with comments. I must make the effort to revisit blogs where I have been following any comments. While this is certainly not a huge matter, I’m sure I have missed follow up comments because I have forgotten to check back.
Overall I am very pleased with Bloglines and would recommend it to anyone trying to following several different blogs regularly. If you have not already, give Bloglines a try and let me know how it goes.