Brief – a feed reading extension for Firefox

I read several feeds daily, like The Daily WTF or friend’s blogs. Since I always have both Thunderbird and Firefox running on my computer, I don’t want a standalone RSS reader application, like Liferea hog my memory. I don’t want to keep a Google page always open to use the Reader either. I took some time to research an RSS reader, which fits these criteria.

Up until now I used the WizRSS plugin, which is a nice Firefox extension, but has no automatic refresh option, and manual refresh disables the browser for long seconds.

I recently realized, that ThunderBird 3.0 already has RSS support built in. Since feeds are a lot like newsletters that would be a convenient place to read my feeds.

There are some issues I have with Thunderbird as an RSS reader.

  • I use two computers in parallel, a desktop and a laptop (I know I’m old fashioned, but I like 19″ LCDs) The feeds are to be kept in sync on them. (This could be a case for Unison, but I rather not restart my mail client every time I go home, otherwise what would be the point of suspend/resume?) Thunderbird doesn’t have any feed synchronization support, that I know of.
  • OPML import doesn’t work. Export works well, but once you want to restore your bookmarks, the folder structure is lost. That’s probably just a simple bug that the developers will take care of, but for now I have to reorganize all my feeds.
  • Item display is not very fancy yet, links are opened in your browser. For picassa  feeds this is quite annoying. Once you want to see an image in full size, you must switch over to your browser, and when done switch back.

So I looked up other Firefox extensions to see if there is one that fits my needs. That’s when I found Brief. Unlike WizRSS, which keeps the links to the feeds in a separate bookmark folder, that I cannot sync with X-Marks, it uses the Live bookmarks feature of Firefox, and I can easily choose the folder to store the bookmarks in. It allows the feed items to be bookmarked (which is a missing feature in WizRSS) so I can mark articles for later.

I simply imported my bookmarks from OPML, and I haven’t tried, but export probably works just as well.

Since the embedded links are opened in the frame, I can navigate with the standard browser buttons.

I’m pretty satisfied with it so far, but let’s see what the daily use brings!

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