The new version of Reader has been out there long enough (and is now stable enough) that I have some time to catch my breath and make this post (my post-launch post last year came only a couple of days after the big announcement). I've jotted down some of my thoughts from the past few weeks, continuity will not be high.
There were some hints that something big was coming. Chris's Twitter updates were sounding rather intense. Someone in the discussion group inferred from my lack of posts that a major update was imminent (or that I stopped caring - never!). We even invited some bloggers for a sneak peek at the new Reader* but they were nice and respected their embargo.
Reader is in Google Labs, and that puts it in the "throw it against the wall and see what sticks" product family. I'm glad that people seem to have realized that this "throwing" and "seeing" are less passive than they sound. To stretch this metaphor further, if the spaghetti starts to slide off, engineers (and UI designers, and product managers, and others) will study the problem and figure out how to increase its coefficient of friction. Usually the changes are more subtle (witness the myriad of tweaks that have been done to the Google Video homepage) which is perhaps why there is this perception that no post-launch changes are made.
A lot of people have remarked on the similarities between the new Reader interface and Gmail's. With this in mind, I've created a simple Greasemonkey script that adds a "Feeds" in Gmail. When clicked, Reader's list view is loaded on the right. To install the script (and Greasemonkey if you have never used it before):
- Install Greasemonkey from http://greasemonkey.mozdev.org/
- Restart Firefox.
- Click on the script link above
- Click on the "Install" button that's displayed in the upper-right corner of the page.
- Visit/reload Gmail
You may wonder why I felt the need to write a Greasemonkey script for my own product. The answer is that integrations are hard and generally require a lot of effort before you can even determine if they are worthwhile. Greasemonkey lets you experiment with UI concepts with minimal effort necessary from either team (I had to make exactly one change to Reader to better support this script, and that was the ability to force list view to be used, even if expanded view is normally selected). I can't really say what, if any, our integration plans are, but enough users have asked for something like this that I thought writing the script was the most expedient way to provide this (unofficial) feature.
I am still subscribed to the "google reader" Blog Search feed, so that is one way to reach the team with feedback. The discussion group is also being monitored, though with the increased volume we now find it hard to respond to a lot of posts. But please keep the feedback coming, it's been great to get direct, concrete indicators for what we should work on next.
* It is rather frustrating to have to call it "the new Reader" or more formally "the new version of Google Reader." It's unfortunate that version numbers are passé, "2.0.1" is a more accurate and concise representation where of where Reader is right now.