FeedDemon 2.0, the RSS reader, is somewhat bad software. The upgrade to 2.0 went well enough, but there are so many irritating usability quirks that I dislike it. It's no worse than 1.5 was, but no better.

Well, one thing is worse: it frequently guesses wrong on character encodings. So I'm reading garbage like "don’t". I know enough about the dog's breakfast of feed encodings to know this is a nasty problem. I don't care. The browser's going to have to guess to get it right. Here's a hint: the € and ™ characters never belong in the middle of a word. Turns out this only shows up if you use Mozilla as the HTML widget; IE doesn't have the problem. FeedDemon is clear that Mozilla is experimental only, so my bad.

But the main problem is the keyboard control. It's a three pane reader, but each pane has different keyboard controls. There's no visual indicator of where focus is and it seems to move around even without me clicking the mouse. So you never know what pressing a key will do. Is PageDown going to scroll the browser view? Or do something mysterious in the list of feeds? Is there any way to make the "spacebar moves to next unread item" work reliably? I can't do it.

The default keystrokes for "mark feed read" and "mark group read" are the contorted "Ctrl-Shift-A" and "Ctrl-R". Yeah, that's convenient to press frequently. I thought I'd be clever and reassign those to "A" and "R" but I'm not allowed to. I guess the theory is I may want to be typing text into a form while reading blogs? Um, no.

More than most software, a feed reader needs to have really good ergonomics. FeedDemon fails that test. Time to look for something new for Windows.

  2006-05-02 16:02 Z