An introduction to Netvibes

How would you like to have a home page that is completely customized to your liking? One that allows you to read articles from all your favorite sites – as soon as they’re published. If that sounds intriguing, I’d like to introduce you to Netvibes.

Netvibes has utilized a number of the “latest” popular technologies (Ajax, RSS, Web 2.0 etc) to create a fantastic home page that anyone with a half-way decent computer and broadband connection can use, and best of all the service is entirely free.

This tutorial will guide you in setting up Netvibes (which you only need to do once), show you some of the useful features, and answer some of the frequently asked questions..

  1. Signing Up
  2. Adding/Viewing Content
    1. -adding RSS feeds
    2. -viewing RSS feeds
    3. -adding modules
  3. Customizing Your Page Layout
    1. -removing content
    2. -module locations
    3. -columns
    4. -tabs
  4. Additional Features/Resources

1. Signing Up

  1. Signing up for Netvibes is a breeze. Start by visiting http://www.netvibes.com and click the Sign in link in the upper-right corner.
  2. In the New User field, click the Sign Up Now! button
  3. Enter the required information in the spaces provided and then click Sign up
  4. If all goes well, you’ll be presented with a ‘Congratulations’ message. Select the Back to my page link, or click your browsers refresh button.
  5. Now your Netvibes page will open. You’ll know that you’re signed in because the previous “Sign in” link will now say Sign Out.

2. Adding/Viewing Content

-adding RSS feeds

As I mentioned at the start of this tutorial, Netvibes allows you to add content from all your favorite web sites via RSS (for a detailed explanation of RSS, please read this tutorial). Lets get started –

  1. Select the Add content link from the upper-left corner of your screen
  2. When the Content Panel opens, select the link titled Add my feed and enter in one of your favorite web site addresses in the space provided. When you’re done, click Add
  3. Netvibes will now automatically detect available RSS/Atom feeds. If the site you entered offers multiple types of RSS/Atom feeds, you’ll be presented with a confirmation window asking you to select one (see image below). RSS 2.0 is the ideal format, but any that Netvibes detects should work fine.


    Click to enlarge

  4. You should now have a new module on your page with a listing of the latest articles from that site.

  5. Repeat the above steps to add some more feeds from your favorite sites.
  6. Netvibes provides a Feed Directory that you can use to find more content for your page. Click the arrow next to Feed Directory to expand the list. When you find a feed that you’re interested in, select the Add to my page link

  7. Click to enlarge

-viewing RSS feeds

If you move your cursor over an article link and pause, you’ll get a small pop-up window that contains the first few sentences of that article.

Clicking the link will open the built-in RSS reader, on top of your Netvibes page. On the left side there’s a column with the most recent articles for that site. The main window will contain either a summary of the article, or the entire thing (this depends on the specific site). By selecting the link >> link a new browser window or tab will open and take you to the actual article.


Click to enlarge

-adding modules

Now that you have plenty to read, it’s time to add some API modules. API modules are applications and/or services built by the community of netvibes developers. They include things like calendars, video games, weather forecasts etc. Netvibes has added some of the most popular modules to the Content Panel, and you can get an overview of each one by hovering your cursor over their titles.

There’s also a huge list of modules for you to browse and add to your page over at http://eco.netvibes.com/modules/.

Many of the modules require some input on your part in order to be specifically customized for you. Follow the on-screen instructions generally found inside the module itself after you add it. When in doubt, move your cursor over the ‘title bar’ of the module in question, and select the edit link.

After you’ve made the appropriate changes, click the save button. If the edit window doesn’t close on its own, select the close edit link

Your module should now be customized.

3. Customizing Your Page Layout

-removing content

Since Netvibes provides a few RSS feeds and modules by default, you may want to remove the ones you don’t like. Doing so couldn’t be easier – just move your cursor to the ‘title bar’ of the module you want to remove, and click the x.

-module locations

You can also move your modules across the columns, and up or down the rows. To relocate a module, move your cursor to an empty area of the modules ‘title bar’ – you’ll know you’ve found the right spot when your cursor changes to this:

When the cursor changes, click and hold down the left-mouse button (PC users) and drag the module to the location on your page that you’d like it in.


Click to enlarge

-columns

By default, your Netvibes page will be sorted into 3 columns. If you’d prefer more/fewer columns, select the (small) ‘down-arrow’ icon directly below your default tabs name (more on tabs in a minute).

From here you can change the number of columns to 1, 2 or 4.

-tabs

As you use Netvibes more and more, you may find that you have too many modules on one page and things get a bit disorganized. Tabs allow you to create several “versions” of your Netvibes home page. For example, you may have one tab dedicated entirely to Sports and Entertainment and another dedicated to Music. The possibilities are endless :)

To add a new tab, just click on the New Tab link in the top left corner, give your tab a name, and hit the enter key on your keyboard.

You can add content to this new tab, change the number of columns (each tab can have a different number of columns, they don’t all need to be the same) etc.

4. Additional Features/Resources

One of the best features of Netvibes is the built-in audio player. If you subscribe to blogs that include audio or podcasts, you can listen to them using Netvibes. Look for a LISTEN button and click it.

The player will appear at the top of your window (and carries across all of your tabs). It includes pause, stop and play buttons, and you can close it by clicking the small blue x.


Netvibes Ecosystem is a great resource for finding RSS feeds, podcasts, API modules, and even pre-built tabs that other users have created. Look for the +netvibes button () (on other sites too!) for an easy way to add things to your Netvibes pages.


The Netvibes Blog is the place to find out about the latest updates to Netvibes (and they’re pretty frequent – it’s only getting better).


more on Netvibes soon!
note: I don’t work for Netvibes, I’ve never met anyone that works for Netvibes, I just like the service.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Onlineshops December 8, 2006, 7:04 pm

    Wow. Very impressive.

    Supreme concept of a personalized web portal.

    I look forward to using this as my browsers’ start page.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Strawman411 October 24, 2013, 4:08 pm

    I like Netvibes (iGoogle closing down homepages, so I had to find another), but I’m finding a problem that drove me away from Yahoo’s homepage long ago: Some RSS feeds refresh, others do not — and clicking the refresh icon does absolutely nothing.

    Very annoying, and I can’t find a fix anywhere.

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