One of my biggest gripes about Google Reader has been fixed: it now has a search feature. It’s that innocuous-looking field at the top of the page with the word ‘Search’ next to it. This makes it much easier to monitor blogs for specific issues.
I noticed this on Thursday, together with some other small changes such as the funky animated ‘Loading’ icon and the ‘1000+’ feature next to the ‘All items’ listing.
Searching was one of the weakest areas of Google Reader. When I show people the application, this is often the first thing they ask about. You can, of course, zero in on content when you subscribe to news searches, but when you want to monitor specific blogs it can become a chore to separate the wheat from the chaff. You could use just use CTRL+F to search on the page, as you would any Internet page, but that was a bit clunky and only worked with the content on that page, not the full items.
Research on this yielded the previous-best solution, the aptly-named Google filter. The new Google Reader feature does exactly the same thing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s essentially the same tool but incorporated into the main app.
On using it however I realised that it’s not a filter at all, it’s a search. In other words, it won’t pre-filter content out, it’s up to you to go through all the material and search for what you want after it’s been grabbed. Is this better? Well, I suppose it means you don’t accidentally miss stuff out because it’s been incorrectly filtered, but I think I would prefer a proper filter so I just see what I need without taking that extra step to search.
But let’s hear it for Google. Although very familiar with web-delivered applications – heck, I used to design one – I still find it marvellous when you log on one day and suddenly with no downloads, installs or upgrades, it’s better.
Oh, and yes, I did tell people about it at work but no one listened. In fact the person sitting next to me was looking a bit fed up. I asked why. She said she’d been tasked with monitoring blogs. I asked her how she was doing it. She said she was just visiting each one. And, with that, I packed up and went home.
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