Remember the days of the “homepage”? You know that first stop on the information superhighway when you would open your web browser? Internet Explorer uses MSN and Firefox uses a branded Google page by default. Kind of like a portal but to the information you (supposedly) want. Well really, no one really uses a “homepage” anymore, some people use http://my.yahoo.com while others just use the default page their web browser of choice opens to. Mine was Google’s main page, yesterday I made the switch over to NetVibes.
NetVibes is the breed in personalized homepages. It’s Web 2.0, it’s AJAX, and boy is it spiffy. If you are familar with My Yahoo!, some of the stuff at NetVibes is not going to come as much of a shock. You get to choose your content, and you get to decide the flow of that content by moving the “modules” around to the places you want them on the page. What NetVibes does that My Yahoo! doesn’t is NetVibes does it well. I’m sorry folks, but I’ve been using My Yahoo! for years and I was never fully satisfied with its apperance. And I personally do not have the CSS experience to be able to get it to look the way I want it to look so I’m stuck using a pre-defined theme. With NetVibes, it already looks good. The modules look like blocks and are easy to move into a flow that I like.
I also found NetVibes easy to set up. Once I signed up for an account and started adding content I was able to have most of what I wanted within about an hour (give or take). They make adding content easy, you can use either their predefined modules and feeds or you can use their system to input your own. If a feed you want is not available, adding it to your page takes only 2 clicks. After which you are free to move the block onto any page you want.
NetVibes even has it’s own repository for user submitted modules, feeds, and even tabs located call the NetVibes Ecosystem which has a search option so finding a module you need is a simple as doing a search.
With all the good things I found about NetVibes, it’s really hard to find some bad, but it does exist. First and formost, you have to be selective of the modules. While some people know what they are doing when coding these things, there are some that do not and the setup on some of them is not quite so point and click. The other thing is there does not seem to be a module for movie times or for yellow pages, which are two modules I use over at My Yahoo! quite a bit. While I’m sure there are some in the works, the fact that these are missing is really a downer for me. But not so much that I’ll stop using NetVibes.
So while NetVibes is definately still a little bit Beta, you can bet that they have some cool things planned for the future. I encourage anyone looking for a really good “homepage” to scope out NetVibes.
Special thanks goes to this weeks episode of “This Week in Tech” (Episode 67: Yakkity Sax) located here. If you want a good round table disscussion about the latest tech happenings, I highly recommend This Week in Tech.