I am a serial castaway. But a grateful one.
I first got aboard the Google Reader without even knowing why or how. Initially, a content aggregator was nothing more to me than a convenient way to track a few news sites and collect technical articles for my job.
It is when Google decided to scuttle its Reader, in 2013, that I suddenly realized that, over the last few years I had come to follow quite a large number of sites, authors and subjects using this tool, and that it had become the porthole through which I was now watching the online world.
The choice I was left with was a no-brainer. On the one hand, keep sailing from discovery to discovery on the customized, always fresh daily flow of my favorite sources of information. On the other, swim in place, stuck at the end of the long and rusty anchor chain of bookmarks painstakingly accumulated in my browser.
There was simply no way I was going back. I just packed my things and jumped into the nearest lifeboat.
The Old Reader, a Google Reader clone, was the logical choice. Unfortunately the likeness was only skin deep. Availability and performance issues, possibly due to the massive and sudden influx of other Reader survivors like me, quickly made me look elsewhere.
Then Feedly, with its modern and straightforward user experience, came as a relief. Until I finally admitted to myself that an aggregator had become essential to my daily mental hygiene and started looking at the paid plans. For a substantial price, Feedly offered some premium features that were available for free by competitors, and some others that were not very useful to me.
So it was a little more than two years ago that I decided to put Inoreader to the test. Also inspired by Google Reader, this aggregator has been available since March 2013, as a Web service and mobile application in all flavors of the day: iOS, Android and even Windows Phone, and extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera (the Safari extension is currently under revision, and one is planned for Microsoft Edge). Four plans are available, from the free basic plan to a not too expensive professional plan. OK, its looks are not where it shines the most compared to Feedly, but no other aggregator has that much power under the hood. Everything I wanted, actually.
First, Inoreader offers the best content coverage: it accepts just about every type of content: Web feeds, social networks, YouTube channels, individual Web pages and even email. A 360 degree view.
Furthermore, its viewing and organizing features are the most extensive I have seen in a feed reader so far. The automated rules alone would be worth its price and put it in a class of its own.
And Inoreader is the aggregator that connects natively with the largest number of third-party applications and services.
All this for less than Feedly. Case closed.
Transforming Inoreader in a Ludoreader
A Few Prerequisites
Throughout this mini-series of which this article is the second one, I’ll show you how I converted Inoreader to monitor the small board gaming online world. I’ll only touch on Inoreader‘s relevant features. So if you want to get more familiar with this aggregator, a good starting point is obviously the online tutorial.
Also, some of the procedures I mention will only work if you have an account on sites like BoardGameGeek, YouTube or Reddit. But that’s already the case, right?
How Much Do You Think Your Time Is Worth?
That’s a crucial question you should ask yourself, and the sooner the better. All the following examples use the Pro version of Inoreader. If you are determined to skimp, and not to go further than dipping your toes in, you might as well stop reading now. The Pro plan costs 5$ CAD per month. Cheaper options are available, including a free plan. For my part, I’ve found that the time I save and the knowledge I gain everyday thanks to this service were worth much more than 17 cents per day. Your call.
Inoreader‘s main screen can have different layouts, depending on the selected view mode. Here is the Column mode (click to enlarge):
Let’s have a look at these 3 columns, since they clearly show the three levels of content that Inoreader manages for you.
Left. The left pane displays your content sources, meaning your subscriptions and the folders, keywords or bundles organizing them. You’ll also find the starred items, the saved pages and search results, as well as an access to your dashboard. In the above screenshot, the open folder, Wargames, contains several dozen subscriptions, and only 3 unread items (as shown by the number to the right of the folder name). Subscriptions containing unread items appear in bold, the others, shaded (adjustable in preferences). There is another folder above, called Videos. It is closed and contains 7 unread articles.
Center. The list of articles included in the selected item on the left. Here we see some of the articles located in the Wargames folder. With each article are displayed its source, timestamp, favorite status, as well as an action menu. The articles will get marked as read simply by scrolling that list, if you so desire.
Right. The customizable reading pane provides a detailed preview of the selected article and its main metadata. On the header are the marking, sharing and exporting options. Clicking on the preview’s title takes you right to the original site.
Top. The status bar displays the current folder’s name. The text box with the red overlay is the subscription and search box. This is the main entry point to Inoreader, where you enter the addresses of the sites and pages you want to subscribe to. You can also enter search criteria that will be searched across all your subscriptions, pages, bundles, or other Inoreader users’ content, more on that later. In addition, the status bar allows you to select the display mode, the active filter and sort, or to mark and browse the available items.
That’s a start. In the next article, we dive a little deeper. You’ll discover that there are several ways to find and collect board gaming content, no matter where it is. Until then, take the time to explore and get comfortable with the many features of Inoreader!