Problems with Google Reader
It's a web service. Which isn't bad in itself but that means there are many things missing or broken which I CAN'T CHANGE!
For example, let's take a look at one of my subscriptions. I was going through them today and filtering out those I didn't want to read anymore. Every now and again I stumbled upon something which just hadn't had any updates for a while.
Take DabbleDB for instance. I can't remember the last time I read a blog entry. Surely they're still around? I looked at their feed URL http://dabbledb.com/blog/?feed=rss2 ... which redirected me to http://blog.dabbledb.com/?feed=rss2 (and ignored the param). I then found their real feed right here http://feeds.feedburner.com/DabbleDB.
Yes, they're still around and very much alive and kicking. So why didn't Reader tell me what had been happening and that the feed didn't exist anymore?
I suspect there are a number of feeds I added over time where I haven't read anything from them in ages and all because they have moved the feed elsewhere.
What am I to do about it? Continuing on from my half-baked plan to use on-line services less and less, I am about a quarter way through writing a small RSS Reader I can deploy onto my site (I couldn't find something that already existed). It'll only be small since it'll only serve one person (you!).
Already I have an outline plan and some code but I have a nice feature set forming in my head. It'll give you a lot more information about the feeds you read. For example have you ever wondered:
- when the feed you're reading last updated?
- when was the last time you retrieved it?
- how many posts have they done in the past month or even year?
And of course, this isn't on the desktop, it's on the web so you can read your feeds from anywhere. A nice 'Next' button in your toolbar would be handy, as would the ability to preview something instead of having to go there.
My plan is to be able to have your feeds public since that would be kinda cool, be able to click them and have it remember that you've read certain posts, and (thanks Donovan) I may even have something like a star so I can click interesting posts to share them.
Francois also told me about the Franklin Street Statement the other day. Whilst I might not actually pledge to it myself I do intend on releasing this software under the Affero GPL which will be awesome. Not because a big company will come and use it and therefore have to contribute back changes but so that anyone can use it and contribute back.
As I said, I'm just starting but hope to have something ready in a few days time.
As a final note, I'd like to say that I've been using Google Reader quite happily for ages and it has been really good. Now though I'm of the opinion that no matter how good, bad or indifferent a webservice is, it is always better when it is open.
This post originated on http://chilts.org/.
Email me on andychilton -at- gmail -dot- com.