I have been a huge fan of NetNewsWire for many years and have recommended it every chance I got on podcasts, blogs, and in person. Before NNW was free I was a happy paying customer, and, to be honest, I worried a little when it went free. Without charging for it, would the developers keep adding to it? Keep driving it forward? The answer to that was a resounding ‘no’, it stagnated. However, it was still every bit as good as before it became free, so the stagnation didn’t really bother me. It did what I needed it to do, and it did it well, so I was happy.
What did I need it to do? Firstly, it let me organise my feeds into folders nested as deeply as I wanted, and it allowed me to read a folder as if it was a single feed generated as a combination of all the feeds in that folder or sub-folder. I had literally hundreds of feeds, and had them perfectly organised in folders often three or even four levels deep. It also allowed me to sync read and unread statuses between my many copies of NNW on the three Macs I use and on my iPhone. Finally, it allowed me to keep “clippings” which were also synchronised between all my clients.
This all lead to a fantastic workflow. I would read my news feeds on what ever computer I was at, and, when ever I came across a potential story to include in the IMP Live podcast, I’d just drag and drop it to my clippings folder. On Fridays when it was time to assemble the show notes for IMP Live, I’d just go through my clippings folder on my Mac at home and remove stories from the clippings folder as I added them to the IMP Shownotes. Then, the next week, I’d start the process over again. It was the perfect news reading and gathering experience for me.
Then came last week’s ‘update’ to NNW. I use the term very very loosely, because all this ‘update’ did was strip out features, and hence destroy my news reading experience, and my IMP Live work flow. To paraphrase Churchill, NNW have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!
The ‘update’ heralded an end to NewNewsWire’s existing syncing service through NewsGator, and a switch instead to a Google Reader back-end. I did the switch, and let it sync with Google Reader. When it was done, I was horrified. My complex and meticulously-built folder structure was destroyed. All sub folders were deleted, and the feeds they contained all dropped into their top-level parent folders. NetNewsWire now no-longer supports sub folders! So much for organisation. If you have 20 feeds, NNW is still fine, but, if you’re serious about RSS, NNW is now useless since you can’t organise your folders properly. NNW was a tool for power users, now it’s a toy.
Next, we come to my much loved clippings folder. It’s GONE! Not only will it not sync anymore, but it has been removed! The 30 or 40 clippings that were in there, lost! Luckily I only ‘updated’ one of my machines, so, when I go into work tomorrow I’ll be able to rescue those clippings. Unfortunately, my simple workflow for IMP Live will need to be completely re-invented.
What is particularly gauling about all this is NewsGator’s (NewsGator own NetNewsWire) arrogance and total dis-regard for their customers’ data. Clearly they have no understanding of how people used their products. It was NNW’s advanced features that set it apart, that made it the best at what it did, and made it the market leader. It is precisely the use of those features that has been removed. All the time and effort people put into the features that were removed has now been for nothing. Erased on a whim by NewsGator – and without proper warning (at least in my opinion). It’s bad enough that they destroyed their user’s hard work and effort, but worse still they had the nerve to sell us this wanton destruction as a good thing, as an ‘upgrade’. That to me is arrogance in the extreme. When a company treats it’s long-time devoted customers like something smelly on the sole of their shoe, they deserve to go bust. NewsGator, for treating me and all my fellow NNW power users like crap, I think you deserve to go bust. Unless you back-pedal faster than a retreating French army, I think you deserve to be bankrupt by the end of the month. It’s your move NewGator, make it a good one!