Web 2.0 apps that are worth it?

Posted on Wed 18 October 2006 in geek

Web 2.0 is a lovely little marketing buzzword that is bandied about a lot. It refers to the concept of applications running on your web browser. It used to be that people thought Java apps would be what everyone would want but it turns out that AJAX can provide you with quite a powerful application experience.

The one I've been playing with quite a bit over the last few days is Google's RSS Reader. RSS readers are an exercise in saving the time poor from too many clicks. I used to use Liferea and then when that stalled I started using the Fixefox extension Sage. However I've finally come across a web application that is truly comfortable to use.

It seems a natural fit of course. RSS is a product of the web - why would you want to leave your web-browser to read stuff? Much as I find the Live Bookmark capability of Firefox useful it doesn't give the status view of what is new. However Google Reader allows you to set up aggregate feeds really easily which are an ideal compliment of Firefox's live feed view. The natural integration of feeds into the web environment is one of the key selling points of the reader for me.

Another thing which is very well done is the keyboard shortcuts. I've not seen them used so widely in a web application before. I'm definitely a keyboard person. Compared to navigating with a mouse it's far more efficient to use a couple of well placed keys. On Reader they have made the process of browsing through articles pretty painless. Switching between feed "tags" is a simple 2+n key sequence which auto-completes to the best fit tag within 2 or 3 keys. "Staring" and sharing items are similarly easy operations.

The one big bonus of all of this of course is that it's independent of which machine I'm on. I can pick up from were I left of if I'm on the laptop, desktop or work machine. For this reason Google's Reader picks up the first Bennee award for a truly use-able web application.