Saturday, January 10, 2009

What is Netvibes?

Netvibes is a the modern version of the "portals" of the dot-com era, but this time, they can be completely custom and individual to each user. It is a service that allows users to set up their own customized start page composed of "modules" which can contain a wide variety of information from dozens and dozens of other sites. One of the most obviously useful things to include in a module is an RSS or ATOM feed of a popular blog or news service. Since RSS updates in almost real time, this allows users to, at a glance, arrange a customized list of news from a wide variety of sites all on one page.

But Netvibes offers far more than just simple RSS feeds, something which is already common to services known as blog aggregators. There are also weather modules, e-mail including Gmail from Google
, a calendar, an events list and even custom bookmark lists. Groups of modules can be categorized with tabs very similar to the way they work in tabbed web browsers like Firefox. This is actually one of Netvibes more popular features, as it adds even more flexibility to a system that is already nearly completely customizable.

Netvibes is essentially a desktop
in a web page, which offers much the same benefit as Writely for users: customized services which can be accessed remotely from a number of different computers or the same computer at multiple locations.

As more and more web services become "feed-based" and accessible via RSS in real-time, services like Netvibes and others like it will only become more popular.