Departures. Google Reader


Thee world moves one. I am getting older more experienced and technologies that I have been using are no longer suitable and/or available. It happened before, it will happen in the future again. It sucks for a while, but then you either look for and use an alternative; or you change your habits altogether and stop doing something you got used to.

The patient

Unless you have been hiding in an Internet-less bunker for a good 6 months (or the like, in my case), you must have heard that Google decided to pull the plug from Google Reader, to finally terminate it a month ago.
And unless you was born yesterday, I guess you know that Google Reader was an online aggregator of feeds (RSS and ATOM).

On the personal side of things, has been my RSS reader of choice for around 5½ years, meaning that its departure affected me a fair deal.

OMG The World as we know it is about to end

I came to Reader (we are coming to personal terms with the deceased by now) from Outlook 2003 well after it was fashionable anymore. Yeah, stop laughing, it was indeed a sub-par platform but I may still have somewhere the .pst files from my unread post from 2004!.

Through the years I have come to relay on a (surprisingly low) core of feeds to read about development. That is my use of RSS (and reader, for that matter): read about technology and, more specifically, coding.

Reading about coding, by definition, involves display of code and, let’s face it, code looks terrible in any reader without the help of any of the javascript syntax highlighters available.
That is one of the reasons I was not compelled to use an offline reader or was only mildly annoyed when Reader stopped supporting Google Gears (also RIP), because, at the end of the day I needed to go to the original blog post to read the code properly.

My habits

Ok, so I used Reader mainly as a very useful aggregator or a gateway to get where I may be interested, because of code display. But not only. Comments and discussions are, sometimes, more important than the content of the post itself. And those are not represented in the body that can be read in Reader.

Besides code formatting and discussions in the comments, topics discussed often required me to have a coding environment of some sort to try out a couple of things. And if that was not enough, I do a fair share of link browsing and googling about most of the topics, so having only one pane for reading is not an option for me. That means: no apps, keep it in the browser and the browser runs in a full-blown computer device (and no, a tablet, whichever brand it is, does not qualify) like 99% of the time.

The alternatives

When Google announced their intentions of retire Reader, it was a blow. But only because it is a tool that I use almost daily. So, as soon as I heard about it, I headed to some of the milliard pages offering alternatives to check what was available. Read and read, and the next day I was already using an alternative, giving my cold shoulder to the service that I had used for years.

The contenders

I really paid any attention to two: Feedly and The Old Reader.
The former because I already used their amazing Android app to read about other non-development topics and they promised to deliver a platform as solid as Reader was. The latter, because it looked and felt much like reader, was simple and had that “indie” flavor I dig.

A winner

At first I went with The Old Reader, because the lack of stand-alone web app for Feedly and because it worked for me. Unfortunately their amateurism played against them, as they fought bravely against the hordes of RSS-content hungry reader that knocked (pun intended) on their doors for their fix. I can only imagine the nightmare is a sudden, unpredicted success for your infrastructure and I empathize every bit with them. But when they had a serious blackout last week and a very sluggish come back and I had checked upon Feedly’s web app fitness, I made my choice.

A champion

From now on, I will be using Feedly Cloud. Cheesy name, great product. That is until they start having availability issues or it gets in the middle of my deeply rooted habits.

Last Minute Update:

While doing my “research” when writing this post, I found out about The Old Reader’s new directions after the aforementioned blackout events. I totally back them up in their decisions (as if this made any difference Smile with tongue out) although it hurts not being able to use their service.

Updates never walk alone:

It looks The Old Reader is coming back somehow. I’ll join the sentiment of many of the commenters of that post when I say: I moved on somewhere else, I am too lazy to come back and I am sure none of us will have hard feelings nor regrets in doing so. Best of luck to everyone and we might see each other again in the future.

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