Monday, March 18, 2013

Intro to Feedly - a blog reader

ETA: I have received lots of questions on the whole situation and I ended up writing this post with some basic definitions that hopefully clarify things.

After shaking off my shock at the demise of Google Reader - I started looking around for an alternative and have found a fantastic option.  If you loved Google Reader or even if you've never used a blog reader - perhaps you read your blogs in Blogger Dashboard or you have had them emailed - you should keep reading!!

There are three very important reasons to have a reader of some sort:
  1. It will find any new blog posts - you don't have to go to each of your blogs to check!
  2. It allows you to categorize your blogs and your posts
  3. It allows you to save and file posts that you want to keep

Just a couple of details:
  • Many of the other blog readers out there may not be called Google Reader, but they are based on Google Reader.  They are only a front-end - they do not have the functionality of tracking blogs.  I currently used Feeddler Pro on my iPad.  It is ONLY a front end - so unless they do some major modifications, it will cease to work on July 1.  They have tweeted that they will not go away - but no details yet.  That does concern me - I have read that it is a significant job to add all of the Google Reader functionality and I find it hard to believe they will meet the 7/1 deadline.
  • Personally I have two criterion - I want it on my desk top and I want it to sync with my iPad.  This did rule out one that many card bloggers seem to be excited about - bloglovin.  So far they don't have iPad so I didn't explore them at all.  Their desktop seems very attractive and they have already added instructions for those coming from Google Reader.


My choice  is Feedly (and frankly it probably beats my long-time fave Feeddler Pro).



Currently, Feedly is also only a front-end, but well before Google announced the death of Reader, they had been working on their own functionality.  They shot to #1 on the iPad app sellers with 500,000 new users in 48 hours because they are calmly and confidently on top of it!  (Cut them a little slack in the first few weeks - that's a lot of volume all at once!)

If you are a current Google Reader user - you can import all of your blogs into Feedly now 
and they will be captured by Feedly before Reader goes away.

Here are my tips and hints on Feedly.

USE WITH PINTEREST                                                
Feedly currently has lots of sharing options but they don't yet have Pinterest.  Run here to their Suggestions forum and vote on adding Pinterest!!


DESKTOP                                                                                   

GENERAL
Just go to www.feedly.com and download!  BUT - they only support Firefox and Google Chrome, not Internet Explorer (IE).  I have to tell you that I hung on to IE for a long time while my kids hounded me to move on.  They finally wore me down, I installed Google Chrome, and now I'll never go back to IE.  Chrome is faster and cleaner!
 When you log in, it brings in all of your Google Reader blogs.  
Isn't it pretty??!! 


OR - if you don't use Google Reader - just start adding blogs!! 
ADDING BLOGS
Just click the "+Add Website" button on the left column.
You can paste the URL there or search by a person.  You can also search by a subject using a hash tag.  Try #stamping - LOTS of good results! 
ORGANIZING

      Categories
If you want to add a category, you click on "Organize" just below your name.  You then just drag a blog to the new category section and it's added!!
I like to keep my blogs organized by such things as Challenges and Companies and Friends.
      Specific blogs within categories
If you have added categories - you will see this on the left panel.  Just click on the arrow next to the category and it will "open up" to show you all the blogs.  Click on the blog to view.  It sorts out very nicely by date.
      Tags
If you know what tags you want, you can them in the Preferences section.  Just type them in with commas in between.
You can also add new tags while you are reading.  It's at the top of the post - just click on "+tag".  All the tags you have already added will be listed - just select it if you want it - or there is a "Create Tag" to add a new one.
Then at any time, the tags are listed in the left column - click and you can see anything you tagged.
 I have tags for such things as "Must CASE" or "Read Later".  You could also tag by such things as holidays, occasions, etc.

READING YOUR BLOGS

      Views
There are multiple options for viewing.  There's everything from just a list of titles to a "card" view!!  Besides the list view, all the others are very photo-based so it's a great way to scroll through your card blogs.
To change them all - go to Preferences and look for "default view".  I like "card" view but I'm sure I am just biased by the name!! 
ADVANCED: You can also change the view by each category or blog by clicking on the gear icon when you are in that category or blog.
      Read/Unread/Saved
I like reading by category but you could also click on "All" which really isn't "all" - rather it's "all unread".  
When I first click on the category - I have all the pictures in front of me.  You can scroll up and down just to see the summaries of all of the loveliness that awaits you!
Reading One Post at a Time 
If you want to just look at a few selected posts, just click on the post.  You can save it (the pennant icon), tag it or many other sharing options - or just read it!  When you are done click on the "x" to shut it down.  Feedly knows you are done and won't show you the post again. 
If the rest of the posts don't interest you, Feedly doesn't know that!  You have to click on the checkmark at the top of the page that will tell Feedly  you've "read" them all.  Feedly won't show you those posts again.  (There are some things you can mess with in Preferences about marking things as unread - but they scare me - I want to choose that they are unread.)
Reading All Posts 
I don't tend to read just certain posts - there might be more cards and info than just that first picture and I don't want to miss anything.
To read/glance through everything, click on the first post to big it.  You could still read one post at time by using the "x" to close it and then click on the next post.  OR - use the magic "j" key.  Just typing "j" moves you to the next post!!  (And "k" moves you backwards!) 
ADVANCED: I was having some problems when I was using "j". I got done and some of the blogs still showed up like I hadn't read them.  It turns out that I was clicking through too fast - there is a time delay.  In Preferences, toward the bottom there is an Auto-'Mark As Read' On Selection.   Change it to -1 and it will know that you have read it just as soon as you selected it.
Saving, Tagging 
If you want to tag the post, just click on "+tag" toward the top center.  Select a tag or create a new one.  Then anytime that you want to view tagged, items just click on them from the list on the left.
If you add a tag, that post is technically "saved" as it will always bring up that post when you select the tag.  But sometimes, I just want to save it because I want to do something with it later.  Just click on the pennant icon at the top.  (It's like starring it in Google Reader.)  Then you can retrieve it later from the left sidebar by clicking on Saved. 
There is an option at the top of the post to keep it unread.  I don't like using it, because if you just happen to scroll by again without meaning to - it becomes unread and lost!  I'd rather save it and make the decision later to unsave it.
Commenting or Pinning
Click on the title of the post and it will open in your browser so you can comment or pin.
Saving an Image
Right click and save!
      Looking at Older Posts
If there are no new posts and you click on the blog in the left sidebar - it shows you everything from new to old. 
Also in the gear icon is something you can click to toggle between looking at unread and all.  I leave it at "unread" but sometimes I know there was something on a blog that I want to find - I unclick "unread only" and then I can see everything.

iPad                                                                             

(There are also iPhone and Android and Kindle apps - I haven't looked at them.)

Since Feedly currently syncs through Google Reader - the iPad and desktop stay in sync!!

Unfortunately, there are some shortcomings in the iPad version.  There are things that it doesn't have but it typically makes up for it in how easy it is to use.  It still works for me - I love to view on the iPad which it does very well. The things that it doesn't do well are things that I would have done on the desktop anyway.  (The only major problem is tagging which is detailed below.)


GENERAL
Just go to app store and download!  Right now, it's free.  It would surprise me though if they don't start charging when it turns to Feedly Pro and has Google Reader functionality!
 When you log in, it brings in all of your Google Reader blogs.  
It's even prettier!  Here's the menu screen.

 Here's what it looks like when you are reading.

If you don't use Google Reader - just start adding blogs!!
 ADDING BLOGS
Just click the search icon (the magnifying glass) in the upper right corner.
You can paste the URL there or search by a person.  You can also search by a subject using a hash tag.  Try #stamping - LOTS of good results! 

ORGANIZING

      Categories
Very sadly, you cannot currently add categories on the iPad.  They do come over from Google Reader or the desktop Feedly but you can't add them or rearrange them on the iPad.  So you have pop over to the desktop, set up your organization structure and then come back to the iPad.
Honestly, this works for me.  I LOVE reading on my iPad, I don't like typing on my iPad.  If I am going to do any major rearranging or typing, I'm going to do it on my desktop anyway.
I like to keep my blogs organized by such things as Challenges and Companies and Friends.
      Specific blogs within categories
If you have added categories - you will see this on the left panel.  Just click on the arrow next to the category and it will "open up" to show you all the blogs.  Click on the blog to view. Another little iPad flaw - the desktop sorts nicely in reverse date order - the iPad seems random.
      Tags
Very, very, VERY sadly - you not only can't add tags on the iPad, you can't even view them.  This is the most substantial problem that I have found in all of Feedly.  I like tagging - and if I can't do it on my iPad, it becomes extremely cumbersome - I have to save it (see later), then go to my desktop, and tag it.  This is already in Feedly's error forum as a high priority item, although they are the first to admit that their priorities were changed slightly with the loss of Google Reader.
I have tags for such things as "Must CASE" or "Read Later".  You could also tag by such things as holidays, occasions, etc.

READING YOUR BLOGS

      Views
There are multiple options for viewing.  There's everything from just a list of titles to a "card" view!!  Besides the list view, all the others are very photo-based so it's a great way to scroll through your card blogs.  (The list view isn't currently working on the iPad but I figure cardmakers like to see photos so no big deal.)
The desktop has a default view - the iPad doesn't, but it's still simple.  Just pop into the category (your categories or "today" or "latest") or blog by clicking on the gear icon when you are in that category or blog.  I just set them all once the first day.
      Read/Unread/Saved
This is where the iPad shines. 
I like reading by category but you could also click on "All" which really isn't "all" rather it's "all unread".  
When I first click on the category - I have all the summary pictures in front of me. If you want, you can swipe up and down to see all of summaries of blog posts.  (It's such a visual reader, that it just feels good to swipe up and down and get a preview of all the loveliness that you are about to see!)  ADVANCED - you can change this from an up and down swipe to a side swipe or a scroll in Advanced Settings.
Reading One Post at a Time 
With the easy swipe function of an iPad - you really don't have to read one post at a time.  It's so easy to swipe through everything - see the next section!
Reading All Posts 
Tap on the first post to make it big.  Read it, then just swipe from right to left to bring over the next post - SO easy!! 
As you are swiping, Feedly is marking them as read so they won't show up again. 
Saving, Tagging 
Bummer - no tags yet. (But it's a high-priority fix for Feedly!)
But you can save a post.  Just click on the pennant icon at the top.  (It's like starring it in Google Reader.)  Then you can retrieve it later from the left sidebar by clicking on Saved. 
There is an unread button (tape on the sharing icon (rectangle with arrow out)) then tap on the open circle - it keeps it unread.  I don't like using it, because if you just happen to scroll by again without meaning to - it becomes unread and lost! 
Commenting or Pinning
When you are in a blog post, click on the clock-looking icon in the upper right and the post will open in Safari.  You can comment and pin from there.
 Saving an Image
Tap and hold with one finger and you will get the save menu.  FYI - a short tap bigs it if you just want to see it better.
       Looking at Older Posts
If there are no new posts and you click on the blog in the left sidebar - it shows you everything from new to old. 
Also in the gear icon is something you can click to toggle between looking at unread and all.  I leave it at "unread" but sometimes I know there was something on a blog that I want to find - I unclick "unread only" and then I can see everything.
I have noticed that the iPad doesn't always sort based on time when you do this.  It's not totally off but you'll get a brand new post, then a post from a week ago, then yesterday's, etc.  But since you can look at a lot of posts at once, it's easy to scroll through until you find what you want.
      Other Strange iPad Issues
Sometimes Feedly doesn't seem to update on iPad
If you ever bring up Feedly and nothing has changed - you need to shut it down all the way.  When you open it again, it will be updated. (This seems to be an intermittent problem - it doesn't happen often.)  
Did you know that multiple apps can run at the same time on your iPad?  Apps stay "open" even when you aren't in them.  Swipe up on your iPad screen with all four fingers to see all open apps.  Push and hold on one of them until the apps start "dancing".  Then close them by tapping on the "x".  (If you didn't know any of this and you think your iPad is slow - shut them all down.  It will help!
Sometimes There is Strange Formatting
If you are reading this post on Feedly on an iPad - you'll know what I mean!!!  To indent on blogger, I use the quote mark icon which on any other reader just indents.  But Feedly on the iPad shows a big quote mark.  I don't know why - it just does.  If you find a strange formatting issue, just click through to the website and it will look fin! 

A FEW MORE THINGS TO KNOW
Linky lists do not show up in Feedly - but they didn't in Google Reader or Feeddler Pro either. A number of my favorite challenges are showing their winners in a Linky list.  You do have to open them to the internet to be able to see the linky list.
I don't believe Feedly has the functionality to search within all of your blogs.  Google Reader has it and I used it once in awhile.  For example, if I remembered that someone had used a specific stamp set but I couldn't remember who or when, Google Reader had the functionality. 
Feedly is promising weekly updates to get themselves ready to totally take over for Google Reader.  Right now, their stated priorities are #1 keeping the site up and #2 listening and adding features.  This is good - but may also mean that my document is out-of-date each week.   
Have fun with it!!  Please comment with any questions or further comments.

12 comments:

Pam said...

I keep looking at Feedly. Is it only for desktop on Firefox and not Internet Explorer?

Kim S said...

It's only for Firefox and Google Chrome - sorry! But I have to tell you that my kids hounded me to switch away from Internet Explorer for the longest time. I finally tried to Chrome and I'll never go back. It's faster and cleaner!

LeAnne said...

Wow, you have really done some research! I appreciate all the work you've done! I am bookmarking this post so I can come back to it. I am sort of letting the dust settle before I make any changes. It was so fun to see my post on your "sample" page, LOL!!!!

Jackie said...

Wow, thanks for all the info Kim! I have made Feedly my new reader too. Love it so far!

Christine Blain said...

Wow, Kim, you are thorough!! Thanks for this wealth of information, that I will no doubt use when I get more organised!! :)

sparklygirl-Tina said...

Wow thanks for all that info I've never used the Google reader - do I admit I didn't know it existed..... Probably seen it but not realised what it did! So the new Feedly sounds very interesting and I might just have to investigate further!! Thanks again for all the info.
Tina
xxxx

Suze Bain said...

Wow Kim, you've spent so much time researching and relaying all this info to us "less computer savvy crafters"! Thank you so much. I've never used Reader but this looks good, will have to allocate some time to investigate further. Xx

Jenny said...

Thanks Kim, and for anyone else reading these comments that only used the blogger dashboard to blog hop..... Feedly is BRILLIANT!!! Having read your post above I am adding blogs that I can only follow through email so they are all in one place and I love the layout.
Tags and a Pinterest share button would be great... fingers crossed for those.
Thanks for all your research, you're my iPad guru :0)
Jenny x

Kim Heggins said...

Kim, thank you so much for all that you have done to research this replacement for Google Reader, you are simply amazing.

Bonnie said...

Thanks, Kim, for doing all the research and taking the time to post all that you found. I'll be looking into this!

Marie said...

Fanrastic info. A gazillion thanks! I am computer challenged so I will have to read this a few times in order for it to sink in!

Brenda R said...

I am catching up in my reader, Feeddler.again you have done a lot of research. I read your blog on my IPad, and I think I chose Feeddler after you wrote about it, if I remember correctly. Thanks for continuing to blog and not only making beautiful cards, but impressing me with the information and time you so generously share.