N3R – Not Realy an RSS Reader

Last summer Google canceled its Google Reader service and thoroughly shaken the RSS ecosystem (in lack of a better term). Some people switched to other services and those who could live without RSS probably just stopped using the RSS completely. I was using RSS reader daily (or sometimes hourly) and I tried to switch but I couldn’t; no other service offered me user experience I wanted from RSS reader. And that was because I didn’t use RSS as intended.

So, how do I use RSS then?

First, I don’t actually use a “reader” part. Sites I’m visiting from RSS reader are mostly blogs or web comics. If I only read an article from an RSS reader, I’m missing on comments which can be as important as the main article. I also want to support the site I’m regularly reading by visiting it and seeing ads or clicking on them.

Then why I use RSS at all?

I actually use it not for reading but as a reminder, a notification that there is a new blog article or web comic. I can’t (don’t want to) visit all sites every now and then to see if there is anything new, but that’s why I have computers. So, my ideal reader will show me that there are new articles, clicking on them will open the original site in a new tab/window and will mark the clicked item as read. That’s all. Google reader had iGoogle gadget that allowed me to do just that. It wasn’t perfect, sometimes it behaved strangely, but it worked.

What’s the solution?

When Google announced that it will shut down iGoogle and Google Reader, alternatives just didn’t exist. I made an account on most of alternative services but neither had the features I need or can be used as I want. I just couldn’t find anybody who shared my view on RSS so I couldn’t hope that somebody will put user interface just the way I like it. (I just found out that I’m not the only one who is using RSS “wrong” (thread on HN). I was busy back then and I didn’t took time to create my own reader but when Google finally shut down those services, I exported the OPML file and created a quick and dirty reader in PHP for my own use. And now it’s six month as I’m using my own service and I couldn’t be happier with it (and nobody ever added any unnecessary features). It works just like I wanted. It’s not really an RSS reader so I acronymed it to NRRR and even shorter to N3R.

About the service

Service runs in the background and downloads data from feeds few times a day, depending on frequency of updates from a feed. I can import my list of feeds from OPML or add one manually by copying a feed link. In the reader page I see list of all unread items, oldest first. If I click on an item it takes me to the original page and mark the item as read. I can also mark the item read without visiting the page. When I refresh the page, I see only unread items.

screen-feeds screen-list

I had to make it in hurry so I didn’t want to spend time on login/registration part. I have a special link that logs me in and I can make one for every user. As long the link is private, so it’s the data.

You want to use it?

If you too, dear reader, didn’t find any alternative service or you want simple service like n3r, request your account on invitation page and I’ll send you your login link. My server can handle few more feeds.