29 Jul, 2022

I've been using feedly since Google decided RSS wasn't a thing any more, and have been pretty happy with it. It wasn't as good as Google Reader, but good enough. The ads are gradually becoming more invasive though, and there's less of the minimalist feel it had when I first started using it, so I've been periodically looking for an alternative.

After finding nothing I was particularly enthused by, in the end I've decided on the slightly clunkier (certainly geekier) option: taking Tim Brownawell's Python-based RSS -> IMAP bridge, and modifying it to suit my needs.

RSS-IMAP reads feed config entries from an email in an IMAP folder, and then loads the feed items as email messages (if they aren't already present in the feed-specific subfolder) - my version reads config from a yaml file instead, and uses a SQLite database to store an index of feed items that have been loaded. Using the yaml file, because I find it easier to ssh onto my raspberry pi (where this is running) and edit the feed items there; than writing a mail, sending it to myself and then copying into the RSS folder. And using a SQLite DB, because that way I can delete feed emails and they won't be re-loaded automatically. SQLite is ideal for this sort of usage, because there's only a single process writing the data, and the index lookup is fast.

The main changes can be seen here:

Or found in the "alt" branch of my fork:

Posting in the unlikely event someone else finds these mods useful...

Long live RSS!!

On Feedly

28 Jun, 2013

Rather than burning a significant amount of time rolling my own alternative to the soon-to-be-lamented Google Reader, I've been evaluating the various closed and open source options, finally settling on Feedly.

feedly error screen It's... okay... but the mobile app (at least the iPhone version) isn't... well... particularly mobile. Sure, it looks pretty, and for the always-connected user (those irradiated with 100% 3G coverage), perhaps its shortcomings are a little easier to bear. But I spend a significant chunk of commute-time, sitting on a train, with an internet connection that bounces like the proverbial yoyo. Instead of downloading all articles when there's a good internet connection, Feedly just downloads the current feed (possibly a side effect of the way I use it - I like to go to the individual feeds and read all articles in a section, rather than the mixed articles it presents in the ALL tab). So on a typical commute home, I'm either presented with numerous error screens, or an interminable (so it feels) loading screen.

feedly loading screen To make things worse, the iPhone app seems to forget that it just loaded something (not always, but enough to be annoying). So if I flip from Feedly, to iMessage, and then back again... once again I'm presented with the loading screen. The forgetfulness isn't limited to loading - it also affects articles I've already read (or already marked as read), which Feedly inconveniently forgets and I get the same set of articles again.

feedly flick The interface seems a little inconsistent, as well. As I go through the articles in each feed, when I reach the end of the list, I'm presented with a large, friendly tick and a message telling me to "Tap to mark all articles as read". Which I do. The next feed appears and (after the loading screen) I flick the page up for the next article... except sometimes not. Despite the fact that there are plenty of unread articles, I can't flick to get to the next - I have to use the menu and find the next unread feed myself. Which might make sense if it was the last feed in a list sorted in alphabetical order. But it's not. So it makes no sense to me at all.

So, nice interface, but could use some work. A menu option, to download all articles when I've got a good connection (at home before leaving for work, for example). Remembering which article I was on last time, and not immediately trying to re-download just because the connection bounced in the meantime.

Still... better than Reader nothing...

Update: turns out that Reeder coupled with Feedly in the backend (for the moment) is the ideal solution.


17 Mar, 2013

About the only thing I actually use Google Reader for, is synchronisation between devices. I use both Net News Wire and Feeddler -- neither of which are perfect, but the magazine-style RSS readers (such as Feedly, and the like) don't really suit my usage patterns.

I wonder if the answer (for myself, at least) is a basic web-based reader, which uses dropbox for storing synchronisation data. With about 5MB of localStorage, I could also possibly fix one of my bug bears with the clients I use at the moment - offline download of some content (for those train trips where the connection drops like a yoyo). Using the iPhone's safari browser for the reader itself would fix the other problem I have (specifically with NNW) -- poor download and page rendering performance.

There's my spec ↑... now I just need to find the time to develop it... (before July)