E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

JetBrains’ Omea Pro and Its Awful Consequences of Lack of Commitment

If you have been reading this particular blog for a while or if you are one of the folks who have asked me in the past to suggest or recommend an offline feed reader client, you would probably know that for a good couple of years I have always been saying that Omea Pro (From the folks over at JetBrains) was just it: all you needed to have, a powerful offline feed reader that would allow you to keep everything under control and without the hassle from some other clients. Well, that statement is just about to change and here is why. Something that happened during the holidays and which I may never recover from, although I am starting to think that it may well have been a good thing, after all. Who knows…

Anyway, it all started with making use of Adobe AIR to play around with a couple of Twitter clients: Snitter and Twhirl, which was causing some kind of weird white screen Windows crashes. Looks like Adobe AIR Beta 3 still produces those crashes on the Windows machine. And lo and behold one of those crashes, while I have been away on vacation, is the one that has caused me an enormous deal of trouble.

Yes, that is right. I thought, ok, Windows crashed again. No problem, used to it for a while now, I would re-restart and back to normal. Or so I thought. When trying to get Omea Pro back to life I got a nasty error that didn’t allow me to start up the application as normal. It was asking me if I would want to load the data from previous backups. I tried a couple of them I had from the past and to no avail either. I still couldn’t load it and slowly started to get worried about the whole thing.

I searched and searched all over the place for similar symptoms to the one I was experiencing and found nothing! I reported the problem in the Omea Pro forums nearly a month ago and not a single word! I contacted several folks from the support team and still nothing! I just couldn’t get Omea Pro started to get back to my archives and daily feed readings.

By then I was seriously doubting I would ever be back to normal with my favourite feed reader client. No response in the forums, nor from the support team, nothing I could do to fix it that I didn’t try out already. Yes, I know, plain desperate!!

Well, for those folks who may have been using Omea Pro for a while you would remember how it used to an application that you would have to pay some money for. Then after a while something happened and it became freeware and, supposingly, Open Source. And, unfortunately, that is where it went down hill, because from there onwards the lack of support and commitment to a great product has left it in shambles and without a clear guidance of where it will be heading. Perhaps the next step would be to kill it. Permanently. Forever.

I know that is not a good thing, nor a good signal for the thousands and thousands of people who are currently using it. But let’s face it, if you are in trouble, you are on your own. No support, no commitment to help out. Nothing. You and your machine hoping it will be fixed. But it won’t. That is just what happened to me in the last few weeks, while I was away during the holidays.

End result? Hummm, how can I say it? … I still cannot access Omea Pro, getting the same error messages, help is not coming any time soon from anywhere, not even from the people who supposingly fully support it. And to my increasing frustration, while all of this was happening, I realised that I would no longer be able to access over 100,000 articles from several hundred feeds over the course of the last three years that I have been accumulating! All of that is now… gone!!! For good! But that is not all of it.

One of the great features from Omea Pro was the fact that you could create various different annotations for each of the articles, so over the course of the last few months I developed the habit of drafting blog posts directly into Omea Pro which I could then paste into my favourite offline blogging clients and share across various different blogs, both internally and externally. Alas, that is also now gone!!! All of those drafts I had put together and which were going to hit my blogs at some point in time are now locked and cannot get them back! OUCH!!! That is exactly how I felt when I first realised about it!

By that time I was in full panic mode. Losing over 100,000 articles of feed readings is not pleasant at all, but losing the several dozens of drafts I had is just something I am not going to get back any time soon either! Double ouch!! So … fast forward to today, nearly a month afterwards. Still cannot access Omea Pro, lost the over 100,000 articles from all of my feeds from the last few years, lost as well all of the different drafts I had piled up over the course of months. Lost my faith in technology. For good. At least, till I can ever manage to get that data back, which is not looking good thus far, I must say.

Oh, and all of this happening as well with the several dozen feeds I have got for behind-the-firewall resources. So if anyone out there was hoping I would be sharing a particular blog post, both internal and external, on a particular blog entry from last year, I am afraid that is a thing of the past! It’s not going to happen. At least, not any time soon!

So is this the fate of freeware, Open Source? Can we rely on such applications where the support goes from being incredibly good to incredibly bad, or non-existent, in just a few weeks? I surely hope that this is not the case, but right now I feel like I have just lost three years of my Internet / Intranet history. Just like that! In a split second! And without remedy!!

And to think that I have been recommending Omea Pro all along as one of the best, if not the most powerful, of offline feed reader clients?!?! I think that this is going to change. And now! If you are one of the folks who I have been recommending this particular feed reader for some time, I guess that by now you may be worried about what might happen. Yes, you should be. I wouldn’t want any of you folks having to go through the same thing I have gone through in the last few weeks. Thus here I am, writing this blog post encouraging you all to start moving away from Omea Pro and as soon as you can. Because once you encounter a problem, you are on your own, with no further help, nor support and wishing you had changed whenever you had the chance.

My chance was when I moved to the MacBook Pro and started making heavy use of Vienna, which I really really like at the moment, and which has made my life easier back again. I mentioned I had the chance, because I wanted to migrate the stuff from Omea over to the Mac, but I didn’t do it fast enough and now I am facing the consequences. Never again, I tell you. So much so, that was the last drop that filled the glass for my final move away from Windows. Right after that happened I haven’t looked back! I haven’t even turned on any longer the Windows box. Perhaps wanted to save myself the grief of knowing the data is there, but cannot access it. Perhaps it was just the right move and start with a clean slate for 2008. No regrets. Who knows.

The thing is that I am surely never going to recommend Omea Pro any longer to anyone who may be asking for options. I know I lost three years of Web feed reading and several dozens of draft blog posts, so the last thing I would want to do is to send you through to the same hassle. No, I am not going to do that. If you are looking for a Windows based offline feed reader, I have been hearing lots of good feedback with regards to FeedDemon, which, by the way, is now available for free, and which I hope doesn’t go through the same situation that Omea Pro ended up in.

Oh, and if you are using a Mac, Vienna still rules.

Finally, one other thing you may want to do is to have a backup plan. I got myself two actually: BlogLines and Google Reader. Although right now I am not using either of them. Still prefer the Mac & Vienna experiences. And if you haven’t tried them out, by all means, go ahead and do that. You will see what I mean.

And with this long blog post (I really needed to get it out of my chest) I can certainly conclude that my full migration into the Mac environment is now completed. Yes, I know, it was a painful ending, a very painful ending, but … the future is bright and that is what matters.

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  1. As well as FeedDemon being free now, the Newsgator sister product for the Mac, NetNewsWire, is also free. You obviously have good reason to express concern that FeedDemon might, now that it’s free, go the way of Omea Pro. But while there’s nothing certain in this life other than death and taxes, I am very confident about FeedDemon. It’s been around, and been excellent, for years. And the way it synchs with NewsGator Online – also free – means the user does not have to make the choice between desktop reader or online reader. I don’t really understand NewsGator’s new business model, but they are obviously confident that it will work for them.

  2. Hi Des! Thanks very much for the feedback comments and for the info details! Glad you added further on into the conversation. Yes, I keep hearing lots of nice things about FeedDemon for Windows and to be honest if I were there I would be giving it a try, but since I am now fully on the Mac and quite happy with Vienna I may have to put it aside for the time being. I trust your instincts and I am surely glad the commitment will continue to be there. Good stuff!

    With regards to NetNewsWire, I must say that I find it quite an excellent choice as well, if it weren’t for the fact that you cannot delete articles from your feeds, which, to me, is essential. Something so relatively simple should be put together as standard feature. Yet, it is not there, and that’s why I am sticking around with Vienna, although I can imagine that the online sync is very very attractive, but the power of the Delete button even more 😉

    Thanks for dropping by and for the feedback! Greatly appreciated!

  3. I’d like to know if you tried installing Omea on a different machine, then copying your old database across. I had a .net crash that affected Omea, so I uninstalled the program, thinking the worst But after fixing the .Net problem I reinstalled Omea and it picked up the old database and kept working happily.

  4. Thanks for the feedback! I am afraid I haven’t tried it out, installing Omea Pro in another machine, since I don’t have a spare one, just this Windows notebook and a Mac. But I may give it a try whenever I can get my hands on one. For the time being I did get finally a reply from the Omea Pro support folks where they suggested soemthing to try out and now that I am back at work, I shall be giving it a try and let folks know whether it worked or it didn’t. Stay tuned!

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