28 June 2013

An entirely worthy Google Reader replacement

Replace Google Reader entirely: never depend on an RSS aggregator again

Many Google Reader replacements are available today on the eve of that service's termination.  Two things are required: (1) a service which scans, updates and syncs (aggregates) your RSS feeds, and (2) a viewer application or web-page.  Google Reader provided both functionalities.  Its replacements generally do too.
Sismics offers an unusually crisp, speedy
Google-Reader-like browser interface
and requires no RSS-feed aggregation service

Unfortunately, most RSS aggregation services have come in at around $2 a month.  That's certainly not a lot, and one would hope it'd be enough for them to avoid Google Reader's fate, but it's not free like Google Reader.  

More unfortunately, all that I've reviewed lack Google Reader's ability to email an article or summary directly from the app as Google Reader would allow.  Instead, if there's any email functionality at all, just a link is sent.  Of course, all make it easy to quickly open the source article, followed by composing an email via one's usual cut/paste (or, for Mac users, Safari's wondrous Reader Mode). 

[UPDATE: I just discovered the wondrous inoreader.com.  It imported my 270 Google Reader feeds in about thirty seconds... and it offers emailing of entire RSS-version articles at a click, just like Google Reader!  Based on my brief usage of it, I'd say it's the best of the Google Reader lookalikes.]

My first attempt at replacing Google Reader was spin up a little open-source service called Selfoss on my own server, an original-issue $35 Raspberry Pi card.  A bit of effort and patience is required to install it, and users with many dozens of RSS feeds should not update them too often lest they overburden their Pi (installing on a "real" server would address that, of course).  But selfoss presents an unusually pretty interface in the user's browser and provides all the functionality of Google Reader except that email function, which apparently only Google Reader inoreader.com provides.  

And though I'm happy with how selfoss runs on my Raspberry Pi, I've continued to watch the RSS-reader landscape sprout like forest mushrooms after a rain.  

And here, finally, is an unusual one: Sismics Reader, which runs entirely on your laptop or desktop computer ...or which can be deployed on a server if you wish.  

That's right-- it can do its own scan-and-update right on your PC, no external aggregation service required.  

And since you're not dependent on an aggregation service, there's no chance your service will abruptly die if the service goes the way of Google Reader.

Sismics Reader supports Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and installs in a blink.  When installed on your computer, you just browse to the application's specified address and poof: up comes your feeds.

It's about as full-featured as anything I've tried so far (save that lamented email function!) and has the great advantage of being available when you are offline, such as on an airplane with your laptop.  That's very cool.  

Its look and feel is very similar to Google Reader's.  That means it's not quite as pretty as Selfoss but is entirely functional.  And since it resides entirely on your machine, it is ultra-responsive.

It's free and open-source.  Give it a try.  It will import your Google RSS feed list (which you should be sure to download to a safe place before the service terminates -- see Mashable's friendly how-to for that).  

It's amazingly fast.

Potential drawbacks:  
  • It's Java-based, but I have Java on my laptop for other reasons so that's no big issue for me.  If you need Java, you can download it free from https://www.java.com/en/ --if you're not sure if you have Java or not, you can run a quick test at https://www.java.com/en/download/installed.jsp  Do be aware that Java has had more than its share of vulnerabilities in recent months.  Keep it updated.
  • If you enjoy browsing your RSS feeds on your iDevice or other smartphone or tablet, you'll have to install Sismics on a server; it provides a nice mobile-browser interface.  But then you'll be able to get at it only when you're online.

I'd be interested in others' opinions too... leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. This is the most effective reader i have ever used i will highly recommend this reader to all.

    Silvester Norman

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