Reviewing akregator

I decided to try akregator.  This post reports my experience with it, after a few days of use.  Akregator is an RSS aggregator for KDE.  It supports both RSS and atom feed formats.

I follow several blogs, and had been following them with my web browser.  And that requires periodic checking of the blog, to see if there is a new post.  The idea of an RSS aggregator, is to offload the checking task to software, thus freeing up some of my time.

I am using KDE (currently version 4.8.5) on opensuse 12.2, and akregator is already included as part of the standard KDE install.  So it was just a matter of trying software that was already on my computer.

printscreen image of the akregator window

The akregator window

When I first loaded akregator, is showed several feeds for opensuse and for KDE.  I started by deleting those, though I later added some back.  I then set about adding my own feeds.

I first created several folders.  The “All Feeds” folder was already there.  With that selected by the mouse, I clicked on “Feed” in the menu line and selected “New Folder.”  That gave me a  new folder and an opportunity to give it a name.

Adding feeds

Once having created some folders, I needed to populate them with RSS feeds.  Visiting one of the blogs that I follow, I looked for the RSS link on the front page of that blog.  Most, but not all, blogs had that link.  I right-clicked on the link, and selected “Copy Link Location” from the choices that firefox provided.  Next, I selected the folder that I wanted on the akregator screen.  Then I clicked on “Feed” in the menu line, and selected “Add Feed.”  That provided a small window where I could type in the url.  However, the url that I wanted was already there, taken from what I had previously copied.  So all I had to do was click “OK” to add the feed.

When first adding the feed, the main screen listed several unread posts.  I had already read those using my browser, so I right clicked on the feed name, and selected “Mark feed as read”.

There is an alternative way of adding a feed with konqueror.  Visit the particular blog site (or other site) with konqueror.  If an RSS feed is available, then a button will show up on the bottom right of the konqueror screen.  Clicking that button adds the feed to the “Imported Feeds” folder, and from there you can use your mouse to drag it to a different folder.  This way of adding feeds is particularly useful when the site does provides a feed but does not list the link for the feed on its front page.

Normal usage

In normal practice, I close the akregator window after having started the application.  This leaves a small icon in the tray (the task manager panel).  When there are new unread articles, the number of unread items appears on that tray icon.  That’s a hint to click the icon to reopen the akregator window for reading those items.

Reading

The akregator screen show above is what I see while reading.  I normally have the “All Feeds” folder selected, and then the display on the right side of the screen shows available messages in order of date, though you can select different orders by clicking the column header for the desired ordering.

If I prefer, I can click on a different folder, to see only the titles of feeds within that folder.  Or I can open the folder and click on a particular feed, to see only the titles of messages from that feed.

To read a particular message, I click on its title line.  The message shows in the bottom half of the right side of the screen.  Depending on the way the site supports RSS or atom, the message you see might be the complete post or might be just a summary of a few lines.  At the bottom of the displayed message, there is a link “Complete Story”.  If I click on that (a standard left-click), then a new tab opens and the full message is shown there as it would appear in a browser.  If, instead, I middle click, the full message opens up in my web browser.  Either way, I see the full article including comments.  Depending on the site, I might be able to add comments either way.

I am used to occasionally commenting on blogs with firefox, so I have become used to the spell checking built into firefox.  That is still there when I middle click on “The Complete Story”.  However, if I instead open the article in a tab in akregator, there is no spell checker when posting a comment.

Other sites

I mostly use akregator with blogs.  However, I have also tried it with  a Yahoo group, and with a web forum (a subforum of dslreports.com).  In the Yahoo group, only a summary line is provided for each new message.  In the web forum, akregator receives an item when a new thread is started, but not when another post is made to an existing thread.  Actually, dslreports also allows an RSS subscription to a particular thread, where I would see a report whenever there is a new post to that thread.  I have not tested that option.

I later deleted the web forum feed, and deleted one of the two Yahoo group feeds that I had added.  For yahoo groups, it seems useful for low traffic groups, but a bit annoying with high traffic groups.

Browser integration

Akregator works well with firefox, and even better with konqueror.

When I first started using akregator, I had my default browser for KDE set to firefox.  Middle clicking on that “Complete Story” link on the message screen open the blog post in a new tab in firefox.  That worked quite well.

Later, I decided to try konqueror.  So I changed the KDE default browser to “in an application based on the content of the URL” in the KDE Default Applications settings.  The effect is that now konqueror is used instead of firefox, with a middle click on “Complete Story” opening the post in a new konqueror tab.  If konqueror is not running, then it will be started as needed.

Let me add that I am not a konqueror fan.  I prefer firefox.  Setting the KDE default to be konqueror does not actually affect this.  If I start firefox by clicking on a firefox icon, I will still get firefox.  Or if I start it at the command line (which is my normal practice), I will get firefox.  However, if I click on an html file in the Dolphin file manager, that will now open konqueror (not actually tested).

Cookies

Akregator is integrated better with konqueror.  In particular, it shares browser cookies with konqueror.  If I want to comment on a blog post using the akregator browsing tab, and if the blog requires that I be logged in, then the simplest way is to login to the blog in konqueror, and select the option to “keep me logged in.”

Similarly, when experimenting with using a subforum at dslreports, I decided to choose a forum there that can only be seen when logged in.  So, before defining the feed, I logged into the site with konqueror and told the site to keep me logged in.

Bugs

At present, akregator does seem a little buggy.  It has crashed on me several times.  Once or twice the display has been messed up, but selecting a different folder then going back to the “All Feeds” folder fixed it.

Overall summary

In spite of the bugs, I am finding this a useful application.  It does save me time.  It is particularly useful for blogs where postings are infrequent.  I need no longer regularly check those blogs.  I will see a new post, when available, because it will show up in akregator.

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About Neil Rickert

Retired mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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  1. Reviewing Akregator (again) | Thoughts on computing - 2017/09/12

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