Thinking Twice About the New NetNewsWire

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

Ben Brooks takes a look at NetNewsWire 4 and why he is giving up on it.

The biggest difference with NetNewsWire and most RSS services is that your Mac or iPhone is the device polling the RSS feeds for updates. Whereas with services like FeedWrangler a server sitting in the proverbial cloud is polling those services. This means that hitting refresh in NetNewsWire can take minutes as it has to check each feed for an update β€” whereas hitting refresh in with FeedWrangler will take seconds as it just has check with one server for updates because the FeedWrangler servers have already polled the RSS feeds. [...] And thus, it feels like stepping back a decade when using NetNewsWire.

I recommended NetNewsWire 4 as my "swag of the week" a couple days ago and I'm kind of regretting that recommendation now. After more time with the app, the chinks in the armor are becoming more clear. The most painful point is what Ben mentions above: local feed refreshing. I subscribe to a lot (100+) of RSS feeds, and NetNewsWire doesn't hold up to the stress of loading all of those feeds. I open the app on my iPhone and it can take literally 3 minutes to sync with all my feeds. My previous app, Reeder, uses Feedbin as a backend, and takes about 3 seconds to load all my feeds.

This all hit me hard yesterday when Apple's event caused there to be an unusually large number of new articles in my feeds. The app simply couldn't handle it. It would lock up for minutes at a time while trying to load all the content, making me site there and just wait for it to load.

Another pain point is that I think folders are not handled well. I have all my Apple news sites in one folder. Like other apps, NetNewsWire lets me create folders, but I can't view all articles from a folder at once on the iPhone app (this is oddly only on the Mac app), so I had to tap into each site's feed one at a time. It was time consuming, and hardly better than just going to each one of these websites in Safari.

I hate to say it, but I'm going back to my Feedbin/Reeder combo which has been serving me quite well. I appreciate NetNewsWire, but it's not there for me, and unless they fundamentally change how the syncing works, I doubt it ever will.