Enterprise RSS channels your information streams
Attensa, NewsGator, and KnowNow target feeds to knowledge workers
NewsGator is well known for its individual RSS aggregators, including NewsGator Inbox (an Outlook add-in) and FeedDemon (a stand-alone news reader). NGES (NewsGator Enterprise Server) offers the same benefits, allowing users to keep up with articles through Outlook and their desktop, while adding mobile devices and Microsoft SharePoint portals to the list.
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I set up my test environment with Microsoft Active Directory and Exchange to mirror a typical enterprise setting. The important decision for administrators, however, is how to organize myriad available feeds -- from NewsGator’s own, extensive article database to all your private RSS feeds.
Using NGES’s Web Administration site, I found the existing folder taxonomy -- which includes typical departments such as HR and legal -- to be a straightforward starting point, and I customized it to match my organization structure. Within each of these areas I had no trouble adding feeds from public news sources and premium providers, such as LexisNexis, as well as XML feeds generated by an in-house Silk Road Technologies Eprise content management system.
Because I’d tied in my Active Directory server, NGES user management went quickly. After selecting a user group, clicking one button allowed me to subscribe users to a default set of feeds, block feeds and podcasts through a blacklist, and perform other tasks, such as managing log-ins for secure and premium feeds.
Of note, NGES’s developers understand this security part well. For instance, they’ve included their own routines to detect and remove malicious attack code that could be contained within RSS feeds. And in Windows 2003 domains, secure feeds are retrieved on behalf of users without needing to access or store users’ passwords.
The NewsGator server logs and reports activity, such as who uses the system and the most-read feeds. As my testing progressed, this information proved valuable in discovering both feeds of little interest, which I removed, and popular ones, which I made sure were added to every group’s default package.
The end-user experience was just as pleasant. In my integrated setup, an NGES feed folder was automatically created in each user’s Outlook mailbox, conveniently separate from the Inbox. Users could merely interact with the initial feeds or they can add their own.
Reading feeds -- either individually or as a “river of news” -- is easy through a viewing pane. I especially liked the intuitive way NGES allowed me to mark feeds as read, rate their usefulness, and save important ones to a Clippings folder that could be shared with my coworkers.