FeedDemon and Google Reader – best feed reading ever?

Back in 2008 my opinion of FeedDemon and NewsGator lineup (it belonged to) was totally glowing. Fast forward and that formula went through one of the most drastic changes in software development I know.

Online service? Gone. FeedDemon? Out of lineup, into the wild. Google Reader? Suddenly Google Reader is what FeedDemon now works with.

Before I knew it I was staring at Google Reader – one of my least favorite online services at the time. So how it all ended up?


This one got through more or less unscathed:

  • still highly robust desktop application;
  • still requires occasional cleanup to keep performance fast;
  • back in the hands of original developer and empowered with new functionality.

FeedDemon was so much of own brand that NewsGator backend poofing didn’t hurt it much. Sync is still optional (as it was) and Google Reader for a back-end works as smooth – with same benefits of data in the of cloud and faster updates.

Google Reader

First time (or ten) I opened Google Reader I just closed it back. As for me it is one of the typical examples of Google design paradigms pushed to the extreme. How many buttons can we shove in their face while keeping average engagement level…

It was somewhat eye-opening to see that over 50% of my subscribers use Google Reader. Subjecting themselves to that willingly and every day. It would have remained idle thought if not FeedDemon integration left me no choice but to try and make peace with its new online companion.

Several months (and custom stylesheet to kill most of interface) later I am quite content with Google Reader:

  • after all it is Google product for best as well as for worse;
  • skin fluff away and at the core it is highly robust web app.

Common ground

Not a tautology at all that I referred to both as highly robust products.

Take two advanced application on desktop and in cloud, interconnect them… There should be some serious sparks flying as result.

Core synchronized structure of subscription and folders between these two is bulletproof. Use FeedDemon alone? FeedDemon on different computers? Mix of FeedDemon and Google Reader? In any case you benefit for synced experience and enormous speed gain for leveraging Google infrastructure instead of going after feeds one by one.

Weak points

On other hand feed synchronization is where synergy ends.

  • look, feel and layout – completely different;
  • hotkeys – couldn’t have less in common;
  • powerful watch and filter functions in FeedDemon – nothing remotely like that in Google Reader;
  • awesome and underappreciated recommendation engine in Google Reader – FeedDemon can only offer pale imitation, I am not sure is even related.

These two are not applications made for each other. Or together. Or on same principles.

Two totally different applications, someone thought would be good idea to link. Good idea, but it is freezing in rift of differences now.


It is clear that neither FeedDemon or Google Reader were spoiled by being connected.

But I find it extremely disappointing that neither were improved by it either.

The thing I wonder about most – is Google even seriously interested in having API-linked desktop clients to Google Reader? Web apps is what they do after all.

Still – desktop software is not going away. Is there app coming that will blow FeedDemon out of the water as far as integration with Google Reader goes? Won’t surprise me at all.

Related Posts


  • Sandrina #

    I never used FeedDemon before, but now I see it is a handy tool. :)
  • Rarst #

    @Sandrina Yeah, it is one of the most functional RSS readers on desktop. Some tricks like XML-described and editable watch lists isn't something you can get in any other client. I wish Google Reader adopted at least some of that functionality. Tools for reading RSS only take you so far, next step is organizing what you read and that is much more tricky to accomplish without good tools.
  • Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#65) « What's On My PC #

    [...] Rarst.net FeedDemon and Google Reader – best feed reading ever? [...]
  • Jacob #

    Feed demon needs a Mac version. I was forced to go Mac recently and for the life of me cannot find any feed reader with watches capability. Very frustrating.