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June 30, 2008 / Marco

Enhance Your RSS Experience with Resco News

If you are into reading RSS feeds on your S60 handsets, you might have already set up the built-in Nokia RSS Reader to manage your important feeds. You might also have set up Google Reader to help you read your feed updates online. As a free application, Nokia RSS Reader does a good job of handling RSS feeds at a relatively basic level, and as a free service, Google Reader offers an enhanced model of accessing RSS feeds provided that you keep visiting the Google Reader page.

Personally speaking, I’m a big fan of the built-in Nokia RSS Reader and recommend it to those who want to get their feet wet without focusing on the so-called bells and whistles of other options. However, if you want to go up the RSS ladder, Resco News is what you need. You should pay $11.95 for this boosted experience, but it’s worth every penny. Resco News is such a feature-rich application that it’s managed to supplant the built-in RSS Reader on my N82.

What is Resco News?

To start with a conventional definition, Resco News is an RSS reader that provides access to the information which can be found on the Web in the form of RSS feeds. But the power of Resco News resides in its ability to organize feeds into both default and user-defined tabs, categorize RSS feeds – called “channels”, display RSS items – called “headlines” – in plain text or as HTML with active hyperlinks, export RSS items to HTML, update and remove headlines automatically, import/export channels from/to OPML files, open articles in one’s preferred web browser, and so on. It is compatible with various flavors of RSS, ATOM, and OPML, and can also download podcasts.

Getting started

You can trial Resco News for 14 days without any limitations. Use this URL to download Resco News for S60 V7 and V8 handsets, and use this URL to get the S60 3rd Edition release. I’ve used Resco News for S60 3rd Edition handsets, V1.24, to prepare this review.

When installed, Resco News can be found in the Applications folder. The moment you start it, Resco News greets you with some tips about RSS feeds and how to best utilize the application. If you want more tips, press “Key 2” for help. Selecting “OK” moves you to the next window which allows you to select the place where RSS headlines and articles are to be stored. The next window helps you subscribe to one or more RSS categories based on your interests. These pre-defined categories are:

  • News,
  • Tech,
  • Politics,
  • Business, Markets, Law,
  • Sports,
  • Other, Science,
  • Blogs.

Each category contains a number of RSS feeds and you can later subscribe to each item individually, unsubscribe from each feed or remove the categories altogether. Needless to say, you can opt to select none of these categories.

Knowing the interface a bit better

Resco News has three inalterable tab sheets:

  • Channels,
  • Subscribed,
  • Bookmarks.

The application remembers your position, so if you exit Resco News and start it later, you’ll land on the tab sheet which had the focus upon exit. The “Channels” tab sheet displays all RSS categories and their belonging feeds. User-created RSS feeds which belong to no categories also appear here. BTW, the application uses the term “channel” to refer to RSS feeds and “headline” to refer to RSS articles. Anyhow, you can create RSS categories and RSS feeds here or reorganize everything which belongs to this tab. If you’ve selected one or more RSS categories upon installing Resco News, you can view their RSS feeds by expanding each category. The number of subcategories and channels gets displayed in brackets after each category name. Basically, pressing “Select” on each category expands it as if it were the parent in a tree view. As each category gets expanded, you can press “Down” to move among its RSS feeds. You can subscribe to your desired feed by pressing “Key 1” and selecting the “Subscribe” menu item. All subscribed feeds appear in the “Subscribed” tab. Also, the “Channels” tab sheet has a special category called “Web resources” that stores web links instead of RSS feeds. It maintains the list of web sites that contain the links to RSS feeds

Having finished viewing RSS feeds belonging to a category, you can either move on to other categories or press “Select” on the expanded RSS category to collapse it. Let’s see which options Resco News offers if we press “Key 1” on a category in the “Channels” tab:

  • New, submenu:
    • Channel,
    • Dynamic channel,
    • Category,
    • Subcategory,
    • Search.
  • Expand/Collapse, submenu:
    • Expand,
    • Expand all,
    • Collapse all.
  • Add to tab,
  • Edit, submenu:
    • Properties,
    • Delete [c],
    • Move.
  • Send,
  • Tools, submenu:
    • Import,
    • Export,
    • Export all.
  • Tabs, submenu:
    • Add,
    • Go to [5].
  • Settings, submenu:
    • Display,
    • Update,
    • Articles,
    • Connections.
  • Help, submenu:
    • Help,
    • About Resco News,
    • Memory info.
  • Exit.

“Key 1” displays fewer menu items if pressed on an RSS feed, and the options you see as a result of pressing “Key 1” largely depends on both the focused tab sheet and the focused item inside a tab.

The “Bookmarks” tab sheet displays all headlines which have been bookmarked by the user. When a headline is open, you can press star “*” to add it to the Bookmarks tab. Note that removing a bookmark deletes that article permanently.

With so many RSS categories and feeds it might be difficult to keep track of the needed category or reach the category in question, you might wonder. Resco News can work with indefinite user-defined tabs, so you can create several tabs for related feed categories, create your RSS categories and feeds in the Channels tab sheet and move them to the desired tab. Removing items from user-defined tabs doesn’t delete them from the Channels tab. User tabs can be easily added, renamed or removed via the “Tabs” submenu, accessible from each focused user tab.

Let’s see Resco News in action

Creating a feed

Imagine you want to add a new RSS feed. Move to the Channels tab and do the following:

  1. Go to the Channels tab.
  2. Press “Key 1”, move to the “New” submenu and select “Channel”.
  3. A window opens which allows you to modify various pieces of information related to the feed you’re creating. As you finish working with a control, press “Down” to move to the next.
  4. The first control is a text box which accepts the feed title and the second is a text box which accepts the feed URL. In my opinion, typing the URL is the most difficult step in creating a feed, but if the URL has been copied to the clipboard it gets pasted here automatically.
  5. The rest of the controls allow you to adjust the update period, article maintenance and article formatting. If you don’t modify any of these settings, they obey the default Resco News settings, accessible from the Settings submenu. When you’re done, press “Key 1” to select “OK”.

You can opt to subscribe to the newly created feed and then move it to whatever user tab you want. It’s worth mentioning that you should subscribe to or unsubscribe from all feeds in the Channels tab, but the Subscriptions tab can also be used to unsubscribe from feeds.

RSS modification

Move to the feed you’ve created and subscribed to, press “Key 1” and select “Add to tab”. If you’ve created user tabs, you can copy the feed to one of them now. Moreover, the newly created feed can be edited, deleted or moved up/down in a tab via the “Edit” submenu.

Updating a feed and reading headlines

To update a feed, move to it in a tab other than the “Channels” tab, press “Key 1”, move to the “Update” submenu and select “Channel [1]”. You can press “1” to do the same. Your feed gets updated and the number of “read”/”unread” items – or headlines – appears in brackets in front of the feed name. Press “Select” on the feed name to expand it, move to the headline you want and press “Select” on it. This way the headline text which might or might not be in HTML gets displayed. Here pressing “Key 1” offers the following options:

Your options are numerous: you can open the full article via your preferred web browser by pressing “2”, set the headline as a bookmark (*), set it as read/unread (#), copy it to the clipboard, send it to others, modify its font size, click its URLs, and so forth. Like categories and channels, headlines can be deleted.

A word about settings

Resco News offers a wide range of settings via the “settings” submenu. You can learn about their functions by consulting the comprehensive on-device help. In passing, however, pay attention to the settings found in both “Update” and “Articles” tab sheets to determine how often feeds are to be updated and how read headlines are to be treated.

Conclusions

Resco News is by far the most advanced and the most user-friendly S60 RSS reader I’ve seen. Its user tabs, flexible categories, bookmarks, intuitive expand/collapse, inclusive help and multifarious options make it a must-have for everyone. These upsides aside, the fact that you have to type the feed URL or copy it to clipboard to create a feed is a serious annoyance. Future releases of Resco News should become capable of adding feeds via the built-in S60 web browser. This means if you come across a web page which has an RSS feed, selecting the “Subscribe” option should bring up Resco News rather than the built-in Nokia RSS Reader. I know that RSS feeds can be imported from OPML files without a hitch, but when you’re browsing the web on your handset you can’t easily create an OPML file for the page which has one or more feeds. Moreover, Resco News should be enhanced so that it can optionally run as a service in the background in order to display the availability of new updates via a pop-up message. To mention a bug, on my N82 the “Send” feature is problematic in that the “Mail to” option always wants to create new email accounts in spite of the fact that I already have several email accounts.

Finally, I have to congratulate Resco for having developed such a mature product which promises regular updates as well. Any chance of having a new application called “Resco mail”?

Notes for Symbian screen reader users

  1. Resco News is compatible with Nuance TALKS. However, as with the built-in Nokia RSS Reader the headline text cannot be read without opening the article via the web browser. Fortunately, TALKS “Object Viewer” can capture the window text via an unidentified object – this is not the case with Nokia RSS Reader. In addition, the headline text can be copied to the clipboard and pasted elsewhere.
  2. Resco News makes use of a number of icons to indicate the read/unread status of headlines, the expand/collapse status of categories, the subscribe status of feeds, etc. I’ve labeled more than 10 icons via TALKS “Graphics Labeler”, so if you want to use them let me know in the “Comments” section and I’ll send them to your email address.

Related Info: Win A Resco News License

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One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Mark / Jul 23 2008 11:45 pm

    Thanks for that. I’ve tried a few other RSS readers, like HeadLine from Wildpalm, and FreeRange, both of which are not completely accessibl with Talks. I’m intrigued about your mention of the “Talks object broswer” – how do you set it up with Resco? If yo ucould send me those icon tags that’d be great too.

    [BTW is it just me who thinks that Talks” is the most unhelpful product name when trying to find support va Google!!]

    Mark

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