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Author Topic: TPGoogleReader - Google Chrome Extension  (Read 4602 times)
TPReal
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« on: July 05, 2009, 10:18:58 AM »

I'm not sure if any of you guys use Google Chrome and would like to experiment with its Dev version, that's why I haven't posted about my extension for Google Reader here, but on another forum, dedicated to Chrome extensions: Chrome Plugins. But now I thought that maybe some of you would like to check it out, so let me write a mini-review.

Basic Info

App NameTPGoogleReader
App URLTPGoogleReader on Google Code
App Version Reviewed0.3.6
Test System SpecsWindows XP SP3
Google Chrome 3.0.190.4 (Dev channel)
Supported OSesThe same as Google Chrome
Author Donation LinkDonate to TPReal, the application author
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product The review writer is the extension author (that's why this post is in this forum section)


Intro:

TPGoogleReader is an extension for Google Chrome that makes working with feeds, and particularily with Google Reader, much easier. There is already a lot of Google Reader extensions for Chrome but this one has more features than most of them. Probably the most important feature (and difference) is the ability to automatically open new items from feeds in the browser, in background tabs. Just check the checkbox on the toolstrip:



It also displays feed pages (XML) formatted:



And adds a page action for subscribing to a page feed:




Who is this app designed for:

To use this extension, you must be a Chrome user. I don't think anyone would switch to another browser just to use an extension. Also, you'd have to use Google Reader as your feed reader. Switching to it is not very painful as you can import your feeds from another reader easily. The extension also assumes that you prefer opening a link specified in a feed item and reading it in its original form to reading the content directly in the reader, but I think this is a pretty reasonable assumption.


The Good

Let me just describe the extension features:
  • The extension shows the number of new (unread) items (as all GR extensions do), or you can check a checkbox on the toolstrip and then the extension automatically opens all new items in new background tabs, and marks them as read in GR. It's really great - new things to read just appear at the end of your tabs bar, without even clicking anything. Also, at least for me, reading items in their full version by navigating to the item's link is much more enjoyable than reading the abbreviated, usually style-less version directly in GR.
    The checkbox can be checked on only one of your Chrome windows, so if you check it on one of them, it gets automatically unchecked on all the others.
  • When working in the normal mode (not auto opening new items), clicking on the items counter opens the first unread item and marks it as read in GR.
  • In the auto-opening mode, number of automatically opened tabs appears on the toolstrip. When you switch to one of the opened tabs, the number is automatically decreased by one, so you always know how much of your tabs are items you have not seen yet. You can also reset the counter manually by clicking on it.
  • When a website has a feed, an icon appears on the right of the omnibox (page action). Click on it to open the feed in GR (does not subscribe, just opens and lets you view it and subscribe). If there are multiple feeds on the webpage, you will see a list of all feeds, with the ability to subscribe to the one of your choice.
  • When you navigate directly to an RSS or Atom page (like this one: http://www.ruby-lang.org/en/feeds/news.rss) normally Chrome displays a mess. With TPGoogleReader you will get the page displayed in a monospace font and with preserved formatting. This can be important if you want to see what is exactly the content of an RSS (especially useful for feed testing purposes).
    Clicking on the feed name will open it in GR.


The needs improvement section

Sometimes something does not work as it should. Especially the page actions. The icon sometimes does not appear, or it does but does not react to clicks. For me it looks like most of the problems result from Chrome being in its Dev version, and the extensions system still being developed. And still the problems do not come into view to frequently.

There also seems to be a bug somewhere that makes the extension consume unreasonable amounts of memory, especially after Chrome being running for quite a long time. I'm still unable to say if this is a bug in the extensions system in Chrome, or in the extension itself. If you do not have several hundreds of feeds, and restart the browser at least once a day, this should not be a problem. However, if I find the problem is in the extension's logic, I will surely correct it.


Why I think you should use this product

If you use Chrome and feeds, I think this is the best extensions that lets you merge the two. With TPGoogleReader you find your new items just get opened as they arrive, and you can even forget that there is a feed reader under the skin.


How does it compare to similar apps

All the other GR extensions I have seen simply show the unread items count, and navigate to Google Reader upon clicking, so TPGR has much more functionality.


Conclusions

Currently this seems to be the most complete Google Reader extension for Chrome. It includes the ability to easily subscribe to feeds (or see them in the bare XML) as well as an innovative idea of automatically opening new items in the browser just as they arrive.


Links to other reviews of this application

The extension was reviewed (in a copy-paste'ish way) in this blog entry. Note that the review is somewhat old now. You can also find there short instructions on how to switch Chrome to the Dev channel, which is needed for the extension to work.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2009, 10:30:36 AM by TPReal » Logged

mouser
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2009, 10:22:14 AM »

Nice!  thumbs up
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brotherS
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2009, 11:15:09 AM »

Since I'm on a news diet I won't use your extension, but thanks anyway! I love Chrome and am looking forward to how it will evolve in the future. If GMail is any indication, there's quite something still to expect!
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Thank you.
TPReal
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2009, 01:47:11 PM »

Thanks smiley

I'm wondering what to do when I make a new version of the extension. For now I just change the .crx file (which is hosted on dcmembers.com) so that the download link points always to the latest version, and I also write in the original thread on Chrome Plugins forum. If anybody here is interested in receiving updates, I can also write a short post here after each update.

I just updated to 0.3.7 where a bug making feeds appear multiple times on the feeds list is corrected. Available under the download link in the original post.
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