First, a little background. RSS is a file format for publishing information. It’s not very human readable, so you get some software that lets you do things like sort, mark as read, or a million other things.
I’ve been using Sage, a Firefox extension for a year or so now. It’s simple, fast, and easy; all good things. The drag with Sage is that it runs on individual computers, so when I read at work, and go home, my home computer has no idea I’ve read all that, so I have to go through and find any new stuff.
The obvious answer to this is a web based reader. Bloglines is a free service for that, similar in theory to Flickr. I’ve never been a big fan of using big free services like that though. I don’t like them knowing what I’m reading, and sending me ads.
Enter "Tiny Tiny RSS".
It’s a modern, Web 2.0, web based rss reader, full of AJAXy goodness. I once started a project like this, and got about 40 lines of code down and bailed out. It’s not perfect, but it’s very cool.
- It can handle categories, so I can have my feeds organized.
- It can "show only unread", so my feed list is visually quite short, even though I have 65 or so feeds.
- If I have it show all feeds, regardless of whether there’s anything, I can click the category title and hide the feeds in that category. The title shows me how many undread items there are in that category whether it’s "open" or not.
- It can render feeds in a variety of ways; a list of titles, with a content section in another panel, or just a list of titles to open in another window. It can have short descriptions with the title, or not. There are others.
- It shows the number of unread items in the <title> tag, so you can leave it in a tab and just look at the tab to see if there is anything new.
- There’s a nice editor for manging the titles and such of feeds. This is nice, since Sage wouldn’t let you.
- It can use either MySQL or PostgreSQL for data storage.
- It was really quite easy to set up
- It’s web based, so things are set when I get home.
- It sets cookies for the way you have things, all the way down to which categories you had open or closed, so you can go to another computer and truly pick up where you left off.
- My copy doesn’t render my comments feed properly. It actually shows content from another of my feeds, even though it’s looking in the right place. The sample on the TTR page renders it properly.
- It took me a while to realize how it could be configured. At first I thought I wouldn’t like it, because it didn’t work the way I did, but with some poking around, I figured it out.
- It can take a LONG time to refresh my feeds. Granted, I have a lot, but Sage can do it in 10-15 seconds. It took TTR up to 4 minutes.
- In the mode where it shows the titles in one panel, and the content in another, it’s smart about what I’ve read. When I see titles and content all together in one panel (like Sage) it doesn’t have any idea. That’s not so bad, but in order to mark something read, I have to click a check box, scroll to the top, and click the "read" button. I’d like a button on each item to do that.
All in all, it’s petty sweet. LOTS of work went into it, and there’s lots of room for it to grow into a killer app. I’m going to stick with it for a while and see how things go.