Google Reader apocalypse AAR

So it’s been about a week since Google shut Reader down, and RSS users seem to have scattered to the winds. I uncharacteristically took a harder path and installed a copy of Tiny Tiny RSS on my server. I now read my RSS feeds with Reeder on my iPod, and ReadKit on my Mac… and while it’s not quite perfect—I’m waiting for better keyboard navigation in ReadKit—it’s a whole lot more pleasant than I thought the post-Reader world would be.

Installation was generally pretty easy, even though I was going against advice and installing TT-RSS on a shared server. The only major catch I had was in setting up the cron job to periodically check my feeds—manual feed updates worked, but the cron job failed (complaining that “PHP support for DOMDocument is required, but was not found”, despite my having enabled the extension in my php.ini file). I eventually realized that the instance of PHP spawned by my cron job wasn’t using my php.ini file, and solved the issue by setting -c /path/to/my/php.ini in that cron job.

Three plugins made all the difference in the world to me:

  • Chalk: a nice theme for the web interface
  • FF_XMLLint: cleans up malformed RSS feeds that TT-RSS would otherwise choke on. (Be sure to read the thread and modify the api_version() function to return 2.)
  • TT-RSS Fever: allows Tiny Tiny RSS to pretend to be an instance of Shaun Inman’s Fever RSS aggregator/reader, thereby letting my RSS clients sync with it. (Fever isn’t all that well maintained these days, and seemed a good deal slower than Tiny Tiny RSS in my experience.)

[I’ve also hacked a copy of Daniel Jalkut’s Subscribe to Feed Safari extension to allow me to add RSS feeds to TT-RSS directly from any given site, but that was a bit more involved… and involves using code that isn’t mine to share.]

The real casualty I suffered in Google Reader’s demise wasn’t actually Reader itself (which has always been a syncing platform to me), but the fact that I had to abandon NetNewsWire—one of my favorite and most-used applications on my Mac for the last decade. The current version of NNW has been neglected and is growing increasingly buggy, and the upcoming version is currently surrounded by a haze of uncertainty about what capabilities it will have (the initial beta seems to be a ground-up rewrite, and is shockingly bare-bones) and how it will sync (I fear it’ll use its own proprietary system). Given the lack of syncing today, and lack of information about the future of the program, I’ve bailed on it for now.

Still, I’m happy—and I should be (relatively) safe from my RSS syncing engine being EOL-ed in the future. That’s worth a fair bit, these days.


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