I’ve been a NetNewsWire user for almost 2.5 years now. It’s a wonderful program. It’s a Mac OS X application through and through, and lives up to the quality I expect of Mac applications. However, after reading this post regarding syncing in NNW 2.1, I’m getting the feeling that NNW has jumped the shark (and you thought only TV shows could do that!). I’ve been worried about this ever since NewsGator acquired NNW about six months ago. Syncing, as of NNW 2.1 will, surprise, surprise have a NewGator syncing feature. This is great…. if you care about what NewsGator offers. What is not great is the fact that .Mac syncing is still going to suck. It doesn’t look like the problems that exist in 2.0 are not going to get addressed. When NNW 2.0 first came out with the .Mac syncing, I was really excited. .Mac syncing works great with many of Apple’s applications, and as of OS X 10.4 any application can hook into .Mac syncing. I was excited to have this kind of syncing for my feed reader. However, the .Mac syncing of NNW is really sub-par. It doesn’t sync automatically. You have to manually do it, or do it on app startup and shutdown. However, if you leave leave the app running for days at a time, like I do, it’s essentially manual. The syncing also takes place in the foreground, and you’re not allowed to do anything until the sync is done, which can take anywhere from 30-60 seconds. Also, while it does sync the subscription lists, it doesn’t sync the order and grouping of them. This means if I rearrange feeds on one computer, I have to do it all over again on the other machines. But I was willing to cut some slack for NNW 2.0. Syncing is a hard feature to implement well, and this was the 1.0 version of it. Surely all of these would be addressed in the next version. Unfortunately, NNW 2.1 doesn’t look like it’s going to address any of the .Mac syncing issues. The “fix” is to not sync via .Mac at all, but sync via NewsGator.
Now I completely understand the reasons behind the decision to sell to NewsGator, among them syncing to multiple platforms (like Windows, handhelds and the web) and better customer support. These are things the lone author just couldn’t do all on his own. And I’m all for adding NewsGator syncing in addition to .Mac syncing, but to add it at the expense of it seems unfortunate. Surely I can hear chants of: “Quit your whining and use NewsGator! It’s free after all.” The point is .Mac, love it or hate it, is Apple’s sanctioned mechanism for syncing. It’s used by all of Apple’s apps and it’s got great OS integration. Thus in my opinion, any “true” Mac application that supports syncing should support robust .Mac syncing. It’s not as if using NewsGator would save me any money. I still will be paying for and using .Mac to sync my address book, calendars, mail accounts, and keychains. All it does is add another account to keep track of. Another service provider that can have downtime. Another corporation to mine my personal data. And I’m sorry, but I don’t necessarily trust NewsGator. Are they going to sell my subscription lists to advertisers? Will I have to endure ads to view my subscription lists online? Will the Consumer Standard Plan be free forever? Will I one day be paying for .Mac and NewsGator? Maybe I am just being paranoid and whiny since a feature I care about isn’t getting the attention I feel it needs. Well so be it. I’ve been called worse. In the meantime, I can only hope NetNewsWire 2.2 will offer excellent NewsGator AND .Mac syncing.