Offline newsreaders are useful for reading news when Internet access is not available. Particularly when you're looking to actually read them instead of browsing through titles. BottomFeeder is such a tool,with one clear feature in mind: geeky simplicity.
Installing Bottomfeeder is not a complicated procedure. After downloading the archive file from Softpedia, unpack it and then run ./bottomFeeder bottomFeeder.im
within the unziped directory.
Running the executable opens a BottomFeeder window with a three panel view: a feeds tree, an item list and the item viewing window itself. The fonts and menu aspect make BottomFeeder look more like ten years ago. Thankfully, at least the font size can be changed from System->Settings → User Interface → Text size and the style from the “Stylesheet” menu entry. Be warned: simplicity is the 'language' BottomFeeder uses. The closest you'll get to something less “terminal” lookalike is the “Lookout” stylesheet. Personally, I'd recommend using it... unless you're in a particularly geeky mood.
Us, RSS addicts enjoy knowing what other people's newsreaders look
like, so reading through the predefined feeds BottomFeeder comes with can be quite a treat. BottomFeeder supports .opml files, so you can use the import button from the “File” menu to add your saved feed sources.
It loaded all my feed sources from the file in a folder tree view in the left panel. Coming from a Google reader background, the easiness off adding/removing/renaming folders is refreshing. Simply right click on any folder to add/rename or move a folder.The Good
If you enjoy simplicity, BottomFeeder also includes some potentially useful plugins alongside the console looking news reader. The plugin menu comes with a blogging tool, BottomLine, but also with what I call “entertainment” plugins: MSN, IRC and a consistent list of classic games (remember Minesweeper?).
Bottomfeeder allows for tabbed news browsing. This can be useful when you need to have multiple feeds opened at the same time. It also uses syndic8 to discover new feeds based on a subject that you've typed in. You can do that either by going to Feeds → Feeds auto-discovery, or by accessing the right click pop-up menu on any feed. Unfortunately, BottomFeeder 4.6 refused to do anything when adding a query so we weren't able to actually check how this feature works. It'd be great to hear if you managed to get this feature going.
As a short guideline for BottomFeeder, the easiest way to know what this software allows doing and what features it has, is to use the right click pop-up menu on any folder, feed or item. You'll soon discover that a particular feature of BottomFeeder is that it organizes your searches in feeds. Just go to Items → Search BottomFeeder to define a search.The Bad
BottomFeeder for Linux doesn't display images. Quite often it doesn't display accompanying text neither, so you'll end up with bits of a news entries or an actual empty blog entry whenever trying to view an article with pictures. Also, it takes a while for a feed to load. And this isn't particularly attractive when most of us are used to instant news updates.
Unfortunately, BottomFeeder can't handle special characters such as “ș,á ” making it difficult to read blogs in non-English languages. Aspect wise, the actual thread pane is lacking in margins for most stylesheets. It would be much easier to read if it had some margins.Conclusion
Unless the BottomFeeder team considers us Linux users know-it-alls, I was a bit disappointed to see that the documentation for a Linux installation is absent in both the online or downloaded documentation files. This leaves us plenty to look for in future releases, particularly since the existing documentation is written in a rather friendly and careful style.
Personally, I train myself to close my browser when I write. It helps me stay focused. If you're like me, offline news readers are a good way to stay in touch with the world while keeping away from all the distractions. The simpler the better.
But, unfortunately BottomFeeder does not exploit its potential to the maximum. Image browsing and special characters shouldn't be an issue in this day and age. And, let's not forget the looks. Seriously, it's like an application from early 2000.