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Comments Off on Feedly. For Doctors.

Updates provided by RSS feeds, alongside those presented on Twitter, form the main source of in-bound information in both my professional and personal life. RSS allows me to capture, filter, index and save news and updates from a wide variety of information sources in the one place for review at a time that is convenient to me.

This weekend (along with 500,000 other users) I changed my default RSS reader from Google Reader, to a new RSS service called Feedly. This was prompted by an announcement by Google that they would be retiring their ‘Google reader’ service from July of this year. 

What is RSS?

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For those unfamiliar with RSS (Really Simple Syndication), it is a web format that allows Websites to distribute lists of content and updates to users. All of the major scientific journals, most blogs and news outlets produce an RSS feed which lists all new content as it appears. Feeds typically  include a title, short description and a link to the relevant article / update. 

This feed can then be subscribed to any user interested in that content, using software known as an RSS reader. An RSS reader allows multiple feeds to be indexed, highlighted, saved and shared with others (either by email or using social networks). 

What is Feedly?

500000-Google-Reader-users-convert-to-FeedlyFeedly is an RSS reader application which works across most Web based browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Safari, not Explorer) and mobile devices running IOS and Android. It allows the user to compile information from a variety of different sources, customize the display of that information and share the information with others. Here’s how it all work

 

How to sign up

Signing up is easy. All you need to do is register for the service by signing in with a Google account login (if you’re not sure whether you have a Google account or not, read this). If you have previously used Google Reader, it will automatically sync all of your feeds in seconds. If you don’t have a Google Reader account, don’t panic. Feedly provides a number of options to allow you to find and add RSS feeds to your account;

How to Add feeds

Search Feedly

The easiest way is to find and add RSS feeds is via a search box within your home screen. Simply type the name of the Website or journal you are looking for and the relevant RSS feed index will appear. Click on the link to the feed and it will open in your main screen. Once you are happy that you’ve got the correct feed, click the green ‘add’ button and Feedly will add it to your account. This works well for most sites.

 If the RSS feed you’re searching for doesn’t appear automatically, it is possible to add it to Feedly manually. All you need to do is open another tab within your browser and locate the Webpage you are looking for directly. Locate and click on the RSS icon and your chosen RSS feed should open within Feedly automatically. If it doesn’t link to Feedly automatically,copy the URL of the RSS feed and paste it into the Feedly Search box. 

How to Organise Feeds

Organize Weebly

Once you have subscribed to a number of feeds, it is then  easy to set up different categories of RSS feeds within Feedly (eg for articles from medical journals, bloggers, general or trade press feeds etc) and move feeds between them.

How to view your feeds

The main display looks lovely, is clear and easy to read with the posts nicely arranged in the centre of the screen. The addition of photos into the feeds brings livens up the usual dull presentation format of RSS feeds and is welcome. There’s a sidebar on the left which includes a list of RSS categories as arranged in the ‘organise’ section, a ‘Featured’ section at the top which includes a selection of the three most popular (as determined by ‘Likes’ on Facebook and Google Circles) posts from all of your feeds and the posts themselves. There’s also a ‘saved’ section where archived content can be viewed.

The appearance of the page can also be changed so that posts appear as a straightforward list of titles (for more high density content like medical journal articles), or also as a mosaic layout (for more visual content). The layout can also be arranged separately for each category of feed.

Sharing your feeds

Sharing content from within Feedly is very straightforward with links which allow posting to Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, Evernote and a large variety of platforms.

Mobile apps

Feedly captures your online subscriptions and delivers them in a magazine-like format on the iPad and iPhone (I have not seen the Android version but the screenshots look similar). The user experience is similar to that of using Flipboard for those familiar with it. You can quickly skim and browse content from sites that you are subscribed to by swiping through the home screen and by using a menu in the footer area of the app. The design is even nicer than on the Web version but not so nice as to distract from the reading experience. 

Impression

Overall I was very impressed by Feedly and would happily have paid for this free service if asked. Whether you are new too RSS or an existing Google Reader user, the registration process, adding of RSS feeds, display and sharing capacity of the service are excellent. If I had a gripe  it might be the fact that you need a Google account to login but I note that Feedly have plans, using a project called ‘Normandy’, to make its service independent of by the time Google Reader retires. 

 

 

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