The invitation letter from almost made it to my spam folder today. The name looked suspicious and I had not a clue what on Earth do they need from me again. Now I recall asking to drop me a note when the beta-testing becomes available about half a year ago. Quite a wait if you ask me. At least, I got my chance to join in and give it a quick spin. Here are my notes.

The immediate impression was that the application is simply adorable. It’s very web 2.0-ish and AJAXy to its fingernails. GUI is thought out extremely well and works quickly with a pleasant after-taste of something solid. In the subscriptions management section I missed instructions or some other help information terribly (had to dig them up in a separate window) which made the whole experience a bit duller, but mainly the impression was positive and I even made notes of some interesting GUI decisions.

One unpleasant aspect though was that the actual reading space was greatly reduced by the header, borders, margins, meta-information rows and all imaginable bloated stuff (see it for yourself in the screen shot). I know, all that is very-very useful, but isn’t it the designer’s talent that makes an elephant fit on the tip of the needle?

Now to functionality. Whole focus is solely on the river-of-news concept where you choose a subject in one way or another and read, read, read. There are several ways of “choosing the subject”: tags, categories, search criteria. With tags, it’s like, where you say where to start, then it shows the next associated tags list, you choose something else and narrow it down (until you end up with the only link :) ).

They didn’t let me import a couple of my favorite Music-related feeds (simply was allowed to import zero feeds for some reason – even not a single, but zero; interesting), so I had to use something from their selection. One curious function that I noticed was following the conversations on the blogs. Even though I didn’t have a chance to test it, the idea looked much like that of coComment to me, but without any extra code on the blog-side to support. I suppose they know many blogging software types and scrape comments from the well-known places. In any case, looked fun to me.

This is all I got to share at the moment. See if you like what you saw and try it yourself. Maybe it’s the next blog reading platform, who knows.

(BTW, it’s powered by Sun Microsystems; at least the logo in the bottom-right corner says exactly that)