Thursday, September 3, 2015

NetNewsWire 4.0

NetNewsWire 4.0 is finally available (via @iconmaster, tweet). The main change since the beta is that it now has its own cloud syncing service, instead of iCloud Core Data. There is also a traditional three-pane view instead of just the widescreen view.

It still has the “lite” feature set, nothing like my beloved NetNewsWire 3. There are no smart folders. There’s no meaningful AppleScript support. It doesn’t support the system share menu.

There’s also a bug where permalinks containing # don’t open properly in a Web browser.

Update (2015-09-04): John Gruber:

Second, Black Pixel has simplified so much, they’ve removed a lot of what made NetNewsWire NetNewsWire. Let Apple News and Flipboard be the simple news readers — I think the opportunity in today’s world for a non-free Mac RSS reader is at the high-end.

Nick Heer:

I’ve only had the chance to play around with the iPhone version, but it does feel awfully light. That’s not to discredit what I’m sure is a significant modernization of the Mac app underneath and, presumably, code compatibility with the iPhone app, but I can’t help but ache for more.

NetNewsWire has a very specific audience, and I don’t think this new version really appeals to them on either iOS or the Mac. In that sense, it comes across as confused. Both are adequate RSS readers, but I don’t think the word “adequate” is how NetNewsWire has ever been described.


But I also don’t want one of the five most important apps in my life to fade into something dumbed down. One interpretation of this post’s title is of course “who is NetNewsWire 4, who stands behind NetNewsWire?”. It used to be Brent and Sheila. It now is Black Pixel. Black Pixel has a more Apple-like approach and it’s not the way they work to think aloud, to eagerly solicit feedback, to herd cats and cat-like ideas of what should be for dinner tonight. I can deal with all of this. But I have to see progress.

Update (2015-09-11): Black Pixel (tweet):

At the present time, we’re not going to offer support for third-party sync systems, because we intend to offer something much better for the customers that use our products.


We knew we could offer improved, targeted performance if we controlled both sides of the sync equation. Instead of a generic service meant to meet a specific set of functions we may not even expose in the app, we were able to define a customized, optimized protocol to ensure the best possible performance we could provide our customers.

On the other hand, you have to switch to their entire stack, are then fully dependent on their apps, and have no Web version.

7 Comments RSS · Twitter

Alas, it also loses the very useful Dock Menu access to new articles.

I won't go back. Too expensive and I would have to configure it from scratch. Will stay with Feeddler on iOS an Vienna on OS X. But wouldn't know how to manage the news without a RRS reader....

The worst bit (for me) about NNW4 over NNW3...those simple keyboard shortcuts "L", "K", "B" for the most common operations have been replaced by key + modifier combinations.

No more 1 handed scooting through the news with a coffee in the other hand.

I appreciate that Black Pixel were trying to modernise NNW, however I don't think they appreciate the subtleties that Brent Simmons built in to solve various challenges.

I will stay with NNW3 until it stops working then look for something else.

Like Rob, I’ll be sticking with v. 3.3.2 until it no longer works.

I detest the “featuritus” of many Microsoft products, but I actually depend on quite a few of the esoteric features in the old version of NNW and as a beta tester proposed the “Dinosaurs” function which Brent was able to implement in just a day or so. Brent really listened to feedback and tried out lots of different things. I’ve written three e-mails giving feedback to Black Pixel and didn’t get any response at all.

Personally, I’d be willing to pay 100 euros for a “full” version of NNW that works exactly as the old version does on new and future versions of Mac OS X. Taking a cue from John Gruber, I suggest the Black Pixel folks look at how BBEdit is developed - a strong beta team, prompt and excellent feedback to proposals/suggestions/bugs, and new features that rarely if ever get in the way of me using the program the way I like.

The new “lite only” NNW is almost as disappointing to me as having to give up using Eudora a few years ago. A full-featured program has become just another app for dummies. Sad.

[…] Feature-wise, NetNewsWire 4 has the essential functionality to get the job done and that’s it. I agree with Michael Tsai: […]

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