October 15, 2008

Shyftr Reloads With New API, Activity Stream, Widgets and UI

The crowded world of online RSS feed readers is one that's been dominated by names like Google Reader, Bloglines and Netvibes. But underneath that layer you have a few interesting innovative players, including FeedEachOther, and Shyftr. Shyftr came to prominence this spring, drawing attention for a shared comment stream on linked items, and has been quiet for the last few months as they worked on enhancing their platform. Today, they woke up in a big way, revamping the service, while adding an API, activity streams and widgets for bloggers.

Shyftr's main draws continue to be the same. You can add friends on the service, and see which RSS feeds they are following, or have "Shyfted". You can see who else is reading feeds that you have added, which you can do manually, or by OPML. And despite your reading your feeds in your own space, you can make comments and see them shared with the broader Shyftr community, much like other aggregation tools, including FriendFeed and Strands do. But unlike those services, Shyftr deduplicates, providing a single instance for each unique URL.

In addition to the social aspects of Shyftr, the service offers what they call a Pocket blog, the equivalent of a Google shared links blog, letting you see what friends have found interesting, as they "pocket" new items they discover.

Today's announcements set the foundation for Shyftr and for outside developers to further enhance the service. The API can tap into just about every aspect of the service, except for actually reading feeds, Shyftr reported in a blog post this morning. Among the first introductions is a new activity stream, which shows your activity, or that of your friends, as they "Shyft" new feeds, "Pocket" new items, or make comments.

Like FriendFeed and other social tools, you can filter whether you want to see "Everyone's activity", "Friends activity" or just your own activity. You can also view a single individual's stream if you like.

The last addition are embeddable widgets. Every Web service under the sun has a corresponding widget these days, and Shyftr is no different. You can make widgets for your activity stream, for a specific feed, or to show all activity on Shyftr itself.

As Shyftr founder Dave Stanley wrote in this morning's post, the development of an API was critical to expanding the site's social features, and bringing it to be much more than a passive RSS reader. While the service remains small in the shadows of giants, it has set the groundwork for growth. You can see my profile here: http://www.shyftr.com/profile/louisgray.