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Custom Homepages


By tom - Posted on 22 March 2007

I've been using Google IG since it was first released. There have been several updates and addition over time, such as different methods to add items, tabs, and the newly released themes. However, the basic functionality never really changed.

In any case, I recently heard that Netvibes.com received a major update, so I figured I'll check it out. I was pretty impressed with the default set-up and design and decided to give it a chance. After using it for a few days I decided to make Netvibes my new default custom homepage. There are several reasons why.

First of all, aside from one 'module', everything I used on Google IG was available on Netvibes. The only exception is Google Calender. While there is a Google Calender module it doesn't have anywhere near the functionality of the IG module. Everything else was available, and in many cases the modules were superior on Netvibes--from better/simpler designs to superior configurability. For example, items like Notes, To-Do-lists, and box.net additions are much better for Netvibes.

Netvibes is also superior when it comes to feeds. Not only can you receive tool-tip like pop-ups that show a summary of a specific story in a feed, it also acts more like a standalone feed-reader. Although a little difficult to explain, you can click on a feed story and it will change to a window where it lists all the stories and (not just the few you selected to display on the home page) on the left hand side, and the summary on the right (assume one is given).

For now, the only downside I've noticed is that for Gmail module it only lists UNREAD messages and not READ messages. I prefer the Google IG module in that respect, but it's not a big deal. Secondly, I find that Netvibes loads 1 second too slow (seriously!). I've set this page as my homepage, and the tiny delay is more noticeable as one might imagine. Finally, as previously mentioned, the lack of a better Google Calender module is also a downside.

Nonetheless, the shortcomings explained previously are fairly minor and outweighed by the superior modules, configurability, and feed options. I haven't done any rigorous research regarding all modules, but the ones I used were available. If you use some more complex modules that may have only been designed for IG, it's definitely more difficult to consider Netvibes a viable alternative.

In any case, if you use custom homepages and haven't tried Netvibes recently, you may be pleasantly surprised.

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