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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