Welp, looks like I've finally found a news aggregator I'll use, the oft-criticized Juicy News Network by James Gosling (notice the not coincidental quotes from him yesterday). Why is it criticized? At least one open source Java aggregator maker is upset that Gosling made a new app from scratch instead of contributing to his project or at least using his project's engine.

That makes sense, sure. When I offered to try and port Furthurnet to Mac OS 9 (which I got awfully close to doing; md5 checks were non-trivial, and I'm afraid nobody picked up the otherwise ported source I released), at least one fellow on the Futhurnet development mailing list was upset that I was "wasting time" (paraphrase) on something that wasn't a primary concern to the project. Luckily a more senior programmer spoke up and said, again paraphrasing, "If Ruffin wants to work on an OS 9 port, we should hardly turn away the offer." That's what open source is. People contribute according to interest and ability. There's no way to say, "No, the source is open only to those who contribute according to a road map." Everyone can do whatever they want; it's a strength and weakness of open source.

So if Gosling wants to release his on aggregator, super. He's scratching his own itch, which he admits was part just wanting to give RSS a try. If the other open source aggs want to steal his code, no problem. His stuff is BSD licensed.

So why do I like this gator? Well, it appears that Gosling reads a lot of stuff I like, and JNN displays those feeds by default. Configuration for me was instantaneous. MacRumors, Java.net, The Register, Slashdot, Netbeans, BBC, Apple... there's very little he's got that I don't like checking out. That it's xplat doesn't hurt, and I imagine I'll start using it on OS X and XP/2k. Not to mention it's in Java, so if I want to I can hack it up, to some extent, myself.

And that's what end users like. Quick, painless apps. That doesn't mean JNN's for anybody -- on the contrary, it's easy for people who read what Gosling reads. What you need before any of these can easily hit the mass market is for it to appeal to mass users just as easily. I'm a pretty savvy user, if I do say so myself, and to this point no aggregator has been useful enough within the first five minutes to capture my attention. Getting a generic rss reader that'll appeal to everyone -- now that's something that'll be tough to tackle.

(I feel somewhat compelled to add that this post flies in the face of what I said on /. yesterday, where I suggest the people working on replacing NT 4.0 instead contribute to Mono and create a ECMA C# replacement. This was more on theoretical grounds -- shouldn't we, as a community, be more excited about the benefits a strong Mono would have than an NT 4.0 replacement? And I can't say I agree 100% with my own comment, which had a little devil's advocate in it. Something that runs Word 97, IIS, & ASP, is free, and continues to patch security holes would be a great thing. But as far as buy-in from companies now, I have to think a robust Mono would get more commercial play than NT 4.0 remade, released likely years from now in any really usuable form, by an awfully long shot. It's simply not practical, however admirable.)