Replace Google Reader (and own your data too!)

In my search for a Google Reader replacement, I’ve decided that letting someone else be in charge is not really an option. Who’s to say that whatever I pick won’t alter the terms of the arrangement or disappear at a moment’s notice? I decided right then and there to be firmly committed to a product that would let me keep on using it even if every single person who created it died in a plane crash. Of course, this is mostly right up the alley of people who are either computer nerds or have access to one and pay a hosting company. If this isn’t you, maybe you should keep on moving.

The first option I really played with is Fever. It’s an interesting approach to RSS. Sure, you can use it like a standard Reader-like program, but the real power is that it is intended to figure out what stories are the hottest and provide you an at-a-glance view of what the big news stories are. While most of us carefully curate our feeds based on what gives us the best signal-to-noise, adding a lot of low signal-to-noise feeds as “kindling” helps it figure out what the top news stories are. It’s not perfect, but it does well enough that you might decide it’s worth the $30. If you’re a news junkie and don’t want to read 20 different takes on the latest iDevice, Fever may be worth checking out.

The second option (and the one I’ll probably be using the most) is Tiny Tiny RSS. It’s a free open source application that almost entirely mimics Google Reader’s information-dense view. It takes more work than Fever to install; the config file has to be set by hand and you have to manually import the initial database. There’s also some odd plugin holes. The current distribution has Twitter and Google+ sharing plugins, but nothing for Facebook. You can grab one off of the forums, though, and I imagine it’ll be included in future releases. I even wrote a Hootsuite plugin in about 10 minutes and added it. In additional to being open and extensible, Tiny Tiny RSS also allows multiple users and is entirely free.

Both apps have decent mobile sites, though Tiny Tiny RSS also offers both official and unofficial Android apps. Fever won’t officially support Android browsers, so you’re on your own if something goes wrong. Both run on any setup with PHP and MySQL, though Tiny Tiny RSS will also let you use PostgreSQL. If you want to keep both apps up to date, you’ll want to have access to crontab. Importing your feeds from Google Reader is fairly easy, though you’ll need to grab your data via Takeout and upload the OPML file. It’s not as easy as a service like Feedly that will simply scrape your account.

One self-install option I didn’t try out is NewsBlur. It mostly touts their paid accounts, but you can download and install it as well. I haven’t gotten around to doing so and, since Tiny Tiny RSS perfectly fits my daily needs, I don’t know that I’ll get around to it. The demo I played with was Reader-esque, but it didn’t achieve the level of density I was looking for.

What about you? Have you already found an alternative to Google Reader, or are you now inspired to roll your own?

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2 Responses

  1. Travis says:

    I am definitely going to give Tiny Tiny RSS a try. I will have to set this up for two users, as my wife will be lost withouth a Reader. But she could probably get away with the Thunderbird version.

  1. July 22, 2013

    […] still on a kick to try and eliminated hosted services as much as is practicable. I’ve already replaced Google Reader, kicked out FeedBurner (with, seemingly, no ill effects), and nuked Google Analytics. Now I’m […]

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