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Times Reader: An Alternative News Reading Experience

Posted by Sravan | May 19, 2009 .

Times Reader is an Adobe AIR application that was put together by the New York Times and the Adobe AIR people. It is an alternative to the New York Times website and comes closest to a newspaper reading experience on your desktop. Apt for the enhanced experience, it is being called the Times Reader 2.0.

Times Reader 2.0 Front Page

Times Reader is possibly the first AIR app that I have tried which has a EULA. For some reason, the users are restricted to use a maximum of 5 copies and there are also some “export restrictions” which I don’t think the actual website is bound by.

I don’t subscribe to the newspaper but I could sense that the minimal non-intrusive UI makes the reading experience most pleasant. Thankfully, the daily crossword is available even for non-subscribers and the app (not the puzzle itself) is as good as any that I have tried online. Good enough for me.

Times Reader 2.0 Crossword

Unlike the Time 100, Times Reader makes very good use of its cache, downloading the entire issue in the background and thus is available for offline usage. The settings suggests that it can download up to 7 issues, but I didn’t notice it downloading any of the older issues when I tried the app. Instead of downloading the last 7 issues, I have a feeling that it stores up to 7 issues at a time.

The left sidebar is for navigation across the newspaper, there are two views, and the app only has two sizes, no resize or move options. It is cemented to the center of the screen no matter what.

There is a search option to search the entire issue but it is not fully functional. Try out a few strings and you will see what I mean. There is one dictionary file (.DIC) with about 10000 words in it, which apparently used/uses Hunspell. I couldn’t figure out what it does. Any help here is greatly appreciated.

You can download the AIR from here. Interestingly, the FAQ recommends quite high system requirements compared to the minimum requirements normally done.

Disclaimer: No attempts to reverse engineer are being made. You might find the info.log and the debug.log files in the $APPDATA\$TIMESREADER directory interesting.

I can’t help thinking about the New York Times Skimmer.

Further Reading: Times Reader received extensive coverage on the Adobe XD blog.

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