Recently, I wrote about making the switch from Google Reader to Fever. In that post I explained that I would write a more comprehensive review later. Here is it.

Fever is a webapp. To use Fever, on my desktop, outside of a “browser” I use ChillPill. So, I hope not to confuse the two in this review. Primarily, I will be writing about the webapp.

Fever is mostly intuitive. It isn’t as straight forward as Google Reader (GR)—with GRs non-metaphoric category names. (Fever, uses names like Kindling, Hot, and Sparks which can be daunting for a new user. But, don’t worry they are easily explained.) But, a new user, to Fever, can get up and running in about 10(ish) minutes and have a good idea of what to do. The nice thing about Fever is that there isn’t a bunch of controls just the necessary ones. GR had so many controls that a new user can easily get lost. (I rarely used the web interface simply because I couldn’t stand to look at it.) In my opinion GR is cluttered. Fever isn’t. Fever is much more minimalist and allows the user to do one primary thing—read.

Technically speaking, I was able to get up and running in about 5-10 minutes. All I needed was my database credentials (which, was easy to find in my host’s control panel), a FTP program (I use Transmit), the Fever files, oh, and most importantly a hosted domain (ie. my own website). I use 1and1.com.

  1. If you already have a website (Which, if you are interested in Fever I would imagine that you do.) and a FTP program then you will need to go to the FeedaFever.com site and download the package.
  2. Once you have it downloaded, then you will need to upload it to your website.
  3. When it is uploaded you will need to follow the easy setup instructions to create your account. You can find these instructions under the Download/Add a License section.

    Download, unzip and upload to your server. Change the permissions of the /fever/ directory to 777 and visit /fever/boot.php in your browser to run the Suite.

  4. (While that may not sound easy. It is. I didn’t have to change the permissions because they uploaded as 777, but you will want to check them just in case. In Transmit you just command-i the folder, an info window pops-up, and you change the permissions there.)

  5. When this is finished, import your current RSS feed OPML file and then you are ready to go. (You will have to export this from GR.)

I really haven’t, directly, used the web app—much. I say “directly” because the ChillPill app that I use appears just to be a Fluid app.

 

My first impressions?
As soon as I understood the Hot vs. Kindling features better, my attachment to Fever has grown. “Hot” feeds are supplementary feeds that I won’t read everyday, but that I am interested in because of the information they might supply. So, in my “Sparks” category (this is where I store my supplementary feeds which are used to determine the temperature of the topics of the day.) I have Engadget, MacRumors, TechCrunch, and TightWind. Because of the articles they are posting in my “Hot” section today, July 1st, I have: MacStories, Open letter to BlackBerry Bosses, and information on Nortel Patents—as well as some other titles.

I don’t read Hot. I scan it. It allows me to see the hot news without having to sort through a bunch of posts. Kindling, on the other hand, are the posts that I am interested in following each day. Ones that I want to read everything (or nearly everything) they are writing on a daily basis. I have art, writing, and some tech feeds stored in Kindling.

Fever is refreshing. I have almost 200 feeds and I am able to focus on just those feeds I really want to keep up with. To me Fever is a near-perfect blogger’s friend. “Near-perfect” because it allows the user to quickly scan the primary topics of concern in their news circles. If I want to see what the main topics of the day for Apple, place the Apple feeds in Sparks and check out the hot, hotter, and hottest items for the day. I would love to see it add some features to allow the user to post snippets better, but that is me nitpicking.

 

Pros:

  • It’s mine. I control it.
  • Setup is easy.
  • Hot is an excellent way to filter “important” matters of the day.
  • I have a webapp as well as a desktop app.
  • If you have an iPhone (or other smartphone) the webapp formats nicely.
  • It has some interaction with Instapaper, delicious, and twitter.

 

Cons:

  • The ChillPill app takes up too much memory (it’s just a webkit browser—as near as I can tell.)
  • Could take advantage of the desktop experience a bit more.
  • Sometimes Fever can’t figure out the rss feed of a particular site (even a blogspot one I am not sure what’s the deal.)
  • Needs better integration with Instapaper. I would prefer to have Instapaper pop-in rather than being redirected to a different page.
  • On refresh the list I am viewing refreshes. Not usually a problem, but when I am half-way (or more) down a list and I am refreshed to the top that is very frustrating.

 

On the whole?
Fever is an excellent offering. I would love to see it come with a better desktop app. I would love to see it better integrate with other tools in a more revolutionary “webtop*” experience harnessing the power of the native UI and the power of the web. But, in the end I am happy with it. Yes, there are some gripes, I am picky. But, I am pleased with the product and have yet to have buyer’s remorse. I suggest you check it out, if you want to control your own.

 

* By which I mean: A better hybrid web/desktop UI. Something more iTunesish in nature without all of the clutter of iTunes.