Raven

Raven is a relatively new open source RSS reader app for Windows, MacOS and Linux (hurrah) that I’ve been eager to try out.

This week I finally found some time to dig into this deliciously well designed desktop RSS feed reader, and in this post I’ll provide you with an overview of what it does, what it can’t do, and how I think it could be even better.

But before we go any further you may want to made aware that this open-source, cross-platform RSS reader is built using Electron.

Not fussed? Me, either, but that fact will be a deal-breaker for some.

Wait, what’s RSS?

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a standardised web format for delivering updated web content to whoever wants it via RSS feeds.

Though out of fashion with mainstream users, RSS is far from being out of use. The format still has its fans and I’m proudly among them

But the popularity of RSS for news distribution is in decline.

Few websites or blogs tend to the format as a primary method of delivering content updates to readers nowadays. Outlets instead opt to rack up follows, likes and fans on social media — which makes sense: RSS is passive, while social media is interactive, engaging, and immediate.

Though out of fashion with mainstream users RSS is far from being out of use. The format still has its fans — I’m proudly among them — who often use dedicated apps to stay on top of the latest posts and updates from their favourite blogs, sites and projects.

On the desktop that takes the form of an RSS reader, which consolidates all the latest content, headlines and news from various blogs, sites, and services into one, manageable place — a place designed for reading.

And Raven is one such app.

Raven RSS Reader

One thing Raven has right from the off is its look: it’s clean, with ample spacing, and isn’t crowded up by buttons and toolbars.

Raven uses a three-pane layout:

On the left is a sidebar listing RSS feed sources and a slate of filter options, including “All Feeds”, “Recently Read” and “Unread only”.

In the middle is the “article list” showing article headline, site name, publish date and an easy-to-spot site favicon.

On the right is the “content” area where a plain-text version of each article is presented.

The size of the first two columns isn’t adjustable but the width of the reading space can be made wider or more compact depending on your needs.

Adding feeds is easy: click the bold blue add button, tap in a site URL and Raven will auto-detect any available feeds. Helpfully, when adding feeds you have the option to change the site name/label too, handy if you only subscribe to specific sections of a website.

Alas, you can’t rename feeds once added, or adjust their order once added.

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