Software Review: Listgarden 1.3

Listgarden is a very powerful RSS creation and management tool that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, and can be configured as a Web-based application.

For those of you who subscribe to all of my feeds, let me apologize…I know that I’ve mentioned Listgarden several times: in this blog, the Lockworld Herald News, and my Resources feed.

I think the program deserves all of these mentions, however, because it is so versatile and so simple. Without any knowledge of RSS or XML structure or rules, you can create and edit as many feeds as you want to. You have the options of creating the feeds as local files on your computer, or uploaded to your FTP server (or both). My favorite feature of Listgarden is that you can optionally export an HTML version of your feed containing some or all of your feed items as a Web-based file. This can allow you to offer a preview of your latest feed items to your site visitors or an alternate way to view “what’s new” on your site.

The program uses a Web-based GUI, which makes it a little bit unusual to work with at first. But once you get the hang of things, you can be publishing RSS feeds in no time. The only downside is that there is no WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor, so if you want to include rich text, images, or links in your feed items, you will have to write the HTML codes for these items.

You can completely customize both your feed and your HTML output any way you want, which is very nice. For example, if you sell advertisements in your feed, or want to offer between-item ads from Google AdSense or other sources, you can easily modify your template to accommodate this. Furthermore, since you can completely customize your HTML output, you can ensure that your page is ready for viewing as soon as it’s exported, with any navigation structure, introductory text, links to the RSS feed for subscriptions, footers, etc.

I use Listgarden to create and manage my Lockworld Herald News feed. Because this feed is entirely self-promotional, I don’t expect many people to subscribe to it. However, for visitors to my site, glancing at the HTML version of the feed (the link above) will give them an overview about any recent changes I’ve made to the site, without having to subscribe to the RSS feed.

Of course, most modern Web browsers now have the capability to display RSS feeds in readable format, rather than the raw code they used to show. Furthermore, services like FeedBurner offer a Web-readable version of your feed automatically. So the HTML version is not essential. But the advantage is that it can contain all of your navigation structure so visitors can see what else you have to offer, and that it can be designed to match your site’s look and feel.

Listgarden can also be used as a PortableApp (run from a USB drive, rather than installed locally). You can even use multiple instances of Listgarden (not simultaneously) by installing them in different folders on your computer to manage different sets of feeds. This can be particularly useful for those who manage RSS feeds for other people’s sites, or for multiple sites of their own. Of course, with Listgarden you can have as many feeds as you want to in each application folder on your machine, if you only want to run one copy of the application.

Because it is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and can be used portably, it is ideal for people working on the same projects on multiple platforms. For example, I use both a Linux-based Eee PC and a Windows XP PC to work on my site. Fortunately, I can manage my feeds on either computer (although I have to be using the right computer to actually publish the local file once I’ve made changes, because the file locations on the two machines are different).

I’ve tried using several different RSS feed creation tools in the past, but none have offered me the power and flexibility of Listgarden. So if the other methods I’ve used (here and here) don’t quite work for you, Listgarden might just be worth a try.

That’s all for today…now get out there and Write the Web!

Blogged with the Flock Browser