Times (RSS Newsreader)
Issue: 7.4 (May/June 2009)
Author: Dave Mancuso
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,680
Starting Page Number: 12
RBD Number: 7406
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IN BRIEF Product Times 1.1.2 Manufacturer Acrylic Software Price US $30.00 Contact Info http://www.acrylicapps.com/times/ Pros Useful interface, excellent design Cons Requires Mac OS X 10.5, could use more keyboard shortcuts and a more mature interface Rating (1.0-5.0): 3.4
Times is a new RSS newsreader software program. Usually this wouldn't be significant news. RSS newsreader applications are widespread, both online and on the desktop. Times, however, has a marked difference. Its interface design mimics that of a traditional newspaper. Times hopes to capture users who haven't become fans of newsreaders because they enjoy traditional newspaper layouts.
Times works from a newspaper page model of design. Each "page" contains three sections of news, in a three pane window. The main part of the page is split between two panes in the top third and bottom third of the window. The last pane is a column on the right side of the window. It's much like a reversed layout of a three pane email program. You're not limited to three feeds of news, though. You can drag multiple RSS feeds into each of the three panes. Each pane will scroll down to all of its feeds.
Times takes these pages and formats each RSS news article like a news story. The title is large, the font is serif, and it's easy to read. In most cases, duplicating a print design on a computer screen is a disaster, but Times makes it work. The interface is somewhat retro, but not stuck to the past.
The other nice design feature of Times is categorized pages. Each page of feeds can be categorized however you'd like. You can create new pages and add feeds to them in any combination you wish. It's a very convenient way to organize the RSS subscriptions you subscribe to, and makes it easier to peruse the ones you want to see at any given time.
The interface for each story follows the newspaper motif. As you click on a story, the page curls down to reveal the full story behind it. This was interesting for a few moments, but quickly became an annoying distraction for me. Luckily, the preferences allowed me to change the curling page effect to one that simply slid the page down to reveal the story underneath. It wasn't perfect, but it was easier to deal with.
The application shows its youth by a lack of key shortcuts. However, this might be an unfair comparison to my other newsreader NetNewsWire, which spoils its users with a key combination for almost every action it performs. I hope that Times takes the time to add more keyboard shortcuts in future versions.
One stark limitation of Times is that it requires Mac OS X 10.5 (and there's no Windows version). Apple tends to drive this kind of development by adding attractive features to each OS version, so it's fairly common to see applications without strong backward compatibility.
Times is a young product that shows promise and will hopefully mature over time. It would be great to see some REALbasic apps that take advantage of this kind of compelling interface design.
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