A news aggregator is software which collect news, weblog posts, and other information from the web so that they can be read in a single location for easy viewing. With the range of news sources available on the internet, news aggregators play a useful role in helping users to quickly locate breaking news.
There are a number of different file formats which information publishers use. Popular formats are RSS and Atom. RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication. It’s a defined standard based on XML with the specific purpose of delivering updates to web-based content. In other words, RSS is a Web content syndication format.
For individuals that read lots of weblogs, a news aggregator makes keeping track of them effortless, and particularly useful if the weblogs are only updated occasionally. If you follow specific writers, publications and channels, an RSS reader app helps you see all new content that interests you in a central source.
Raven Reader is a desktop news reader application. It’s built using Electron, a popular framework with developers, as it makes it easier to build a desktop app that works cross-platform. One code base and create an app that works on popular operating systems.
We tested Raven Reader with the Arch distro. There are source and binary packages available in the Arch User Repository. For other Linux distros, the project’s GitHub hosts distro-agnostic AppImage and snap packages. The full source code is available too.
Raven Reader is cross-platform software. Besides Linux, the application runs under macOS and Windows.
Here’s an image of Raven Reader in action. We’ve added a few subscriptions.
The user interface is generally good. It’s content windows are clean with good line-spacing, although it lacks the panache of FeedReader. Thought has gone into the design. There are lots of nice touches which make the software easy to use.
There’s a three pane layout. The left-hand pane hosts your RSS feeds with standard filtering options. The middle pane displays the list of articles. The right pane hosts the content of the articles. The content pane lets us access the full content, social sharing, save the content, view the original, mark as read, mark as (un)favorite, and various formatting options. We can adjust the size of each column which offers flexibility
We like the logical layout, the themes and great fonts. The offline reading and dark mode are useful.
Raven can sync with cloud news readers Feedbin, Inoreader, and Fever as well as Self hosted RSS Services supporting Google Reader API.
Raven Reader is a promising graphical news aggregator that’s under active development.
The most important attribute for this type of software is to offer a pleasant reading experience. Raven Reader ticks that box.
The next most important attribute to look for is the range of RSS services that are supported. While Raven offers support for a few cloud news readers, it’s lacking the wider support for RSS services offered by FeedReader.
The software offers a good range of features with podcast and YouTube support as nice bonuses.
Not everything is rosy.
Raven Reader has a hefty memory footprint for this type of application. The wonderful ps_mem utility reports memory usage around 500MB. With a like-for-like setup, FeedReader and Akregator consume significantly less memory (87MB and 251MB respectively). While Electron helps developers create cross-platform apps, it’s renowned for producing bloated apps.
The menu is unnecessarily messy and needs reorganization. For example, having a menu entry headed Raven Reader just to show entries for Version, Preferences, and Quit is bizarre.