The Retirement of Google Reader

Edit: I ended up switching to Feedly. It’s not perfect and has soem weird bugs (why won’t everything just be marked as read? I go back when nothing is new, and endless old posts show up) but I like it well enough to stick with it.

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Thank you for your kind words about my uncle. I had an interesting email from someone marveling that I could be so sad about “a bunch of uncles dying” as they had no idea who their uncles even were. I hope not knowing your uncles is not a common thing in this world, but I do understand for many their extended relations are not people they know very well.

My parents were both the oldest in their respective families and married relatively young (mom was 19, dad was 21). Their parents also, had married young, so I had a really wonderful childhood growing up with lots of aunts and uncles who were either children or teens themselves (my mom’s baby sister was only 4 when I was born!). We were very close and had big family parties for every holiday and birthday. Dan’s daughters feel more like sisters than cousins to me, and I’m just heart-broken for them and for us. Even though nobody probably expected Dan to live to be 100 due to his health problems, the loss is still hard, and the wish that things could be different is strong.

The obituary is so lovely, I love that photo of him, and I’m a mess all over again this morning. We’re working out travel arrangements for the funeral, it might just be me going – we shall see.

I suppose I’ll go ahead and post my meaningless attempt to find a replacement for Google Reader. I don’t think my ‘techie’ posts are ever too popular here, but just in case someone else is dealing with this, here you go.

When I visited my trusty Google Reader yesterday to scroll through the 50 or so blogs I’m subscribed to, a little notice popped up (not my screencap, I didn’t think to grab one):

Screen-Shot-2013-03-14-at-11.18.33-AM

Huh. Well. That’s disappointing news. I knew they had all but abandoned Feedburner, but here they were putting an actual, factual termination date on Google Reader, all firm, like.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with website feeds (RSS – real simple syndication) and feed readers, most blogs have a ‘feed’ which can be subscribed to via email or within a feed reader of some kind. This allows you to open one application and read all the new posts from the blogs you like without needing to visit every single one on the web. Google Reader was a very simple tool, but one of my favorite things about it was that I could scroll through all the new posts from multiple blogs at once. It was really lovely.

I went to Twitter to find the land all a buzz with the news. People are mad, and while I don’t waste a lot of energy being angry, like, ever, I admit to feeling a little annoyed. But I do understand. This is probably the the best article I’ve read about the whys of it all. Here’s the short and sweet version:

Google Reader was doomed to fail from the very beginning: the company never really believed in it and it took big effort on part of a small team to make it work. Chris Wetherell, original creator & part of the Reader team reflects on past & the future.

So, no amount of crying and ranting on social media will change Google’s mind. Good to know. Without too much time to find an alternative, I got right to downloading my feed information from Google.

There are likely a million tutorials on how to do this floating around the interwebs now, so I won’t go over it here in great detail. You just go into your Google settings and click the “Import / Export” tab. They have something called Google Takeout which must have been overwhelmed with requests last night as the news broke. I had to try several times to get it to work, and several more to be able to download my reader file. In the download folder there will be an .xml file, this is your OPML file you’ll need to import your feeds to a new reader.

Monica gave me a heads up for where to look for replacements, so I headed to Lifehacker. Right away I eliminated any feed readers I had to pay for. I tried feedly but missed the simplicity of Google Reader. Lifehacker links to Netvibes but all I could see was that it would cost $400/month. WHAT? Newsblur seemed promising, but kept crashing on me, and wouldn’t sync with Google Reader at all (plus you have to pay if you’re subscribed to over a certain amount).

I started scanning all of the comments and found Slick RSS. It’s a little fiddly, but I think it’ll do.

The Good

  • I was able to import my Google Feeds pretty painlessly.
  • It has a simpler look and feel that I like and am used to.
  • It’s free!
  • There’s a handy button in the browser that lets me know when I have new stuff to read. I used the Google Reader extension for this, so I’m happy about that.

The Not So Good

  • It did not like most of the Typepad subscriptions. It wouldn’t display any content. So I had to delete those and resubscribe to the RSS 2.0 or 1.0 feed. Then everything was fine.
  • Deleting feeds was a bit weird to sort out, but simple enough when you do. In the ‘manage’ area, you click the ‘x’ and it’ll highlight that row. Then you hit ‘save’ and it’ll delete the feeds you’ve selected, and update your front page.
  • It can be a bit slow to load images. You’ll open a new feed and there are no pictures showing. A minute later, they’ll be there. This isn’t always a problem.
  • It doesn’t mark the feeds read automatically as you scroll through like Google Reader did. You have to click “Mark as Read” manually.
  • The old posts don’t disappear even after you mark them as read. They just hang out in there. Kinda weird.
  • New feeds (or in my case, feeds I was re-subscribing to) show up at the bottom, but you can adjust the sort order (under the manage section) by number. It’s a little clunky, but it’s fine.

So, it’s not perfect, but maybe it’ll work for now. I have the extension for Chrome, if you’re on another browser, you can try it out here, or check your browser’s extension / add on store to find it.

Are you a long time Google Reader lover? I think I’ve been signed up since late 2005 or early 2006! What’s your new feed reader solution? If you have something better, I’m all ears. Though keep in mind, I basically want a Google Reader duplicate.

p.s. I think I shared this on Twitter a while back but I haven’t blogged about it. I LOVE this service: Full Text RSS Feed. Any of those annoying blogs (I used to be one, so I say that with love) who only publish truncated feeds, you can paste their feed into Full Text RSS Feeds and it will force it into a full feed! You can then paste the new Full Text RSS Feed into your Feed Reader and viola! Full posts! See?

I understand the many reasons for publishing truncated feeds, but I think the few willing to jump through a few hoops to read your full posts won’t hurt anything.

Comments

  1. Franny says

    Unless you need the analytics and team options, there is a free version of NetVibes available that allows you to read feeds such without the crazy price tag. I know that it made me go “wha?!” at first too, and I am so sad to be seeing the end of my Google Reader. Its the second time I’ve had to move my feeds, since I used bloglines before that, and they closed down as well. Maybe I’m just bad luck. :-(

    • jessica says

      I couldn’t get it to load anyway – maybe I’ll have to try the options again when there isn’t such a mad rush from the interwebs crashing all the sites in their hurry to move. Did you switch to NetVibes, then?

      It seems like Google could sell Reader or open up the code to open source developers, or something. Maybe there aren’t enough of us that love it to make it a really profitable venture, but it has a pretty passionate fan club that would be happy to keep using it.

  2. Bouncy says

    I am still shell-shocked about the reader news. It’s such a great tool. I refuse to understand their “reasoning” for pulling the plug.
    And I didn’t look into an alternative yet. (Denial coping mechanism)

    • jessica says

      I admit I have a sliver of hope that the brouhaha will get Google’s attention and maybe they’ll figure out how to keep it. So I haven’t deleted my feeds from it yet. Fingers crossed?

  3. Claudia says

    I’m sorry that some people feel the need to tell you that you shouldn’t be sad of family’s passing when they don’t know theirs. It’s an unfortunately poor reflection of them than it is of what you’re experiencing.

    Don’t know if you have used it at all, but I have gone back to BlogLovin’ to keep track of blogs. It’s kind of old school where you visit each site’s posts, but there’s a header at the top that allows you to go forward and back through the posts.

  4. Lora says

    My heart goes out to you on the passing of your uncle. I’m glad you have strong faith. I’m in his age bracket, though a little younger, and I’ve been getting hit ever more often with the shock of a peer’s passing, including a first cousin.

    The announcement about Google Reader was another type of shock. I’ve been busy with my job since reading it, so I haven’t had time to research alternatives. Thank you for the info about possibilities.

  5. jesser says

    I too am bummed about GR’s demise. I love it! I’ve been testing out Feedly and Newsify for a while, but they’re both standalone apps (well actually Feedly has some browser extensions, but I am finding them pretty crummy) and both are backed by GR! Not clear yet where I can import my GR feeds. Thanks for the reviews of the others. I’m going to keep trying to find something new. Lifehacker has a post about it too that I’m keeping tabs on.

  6. Amanda says

    I so bummed about the loss of Google Reader. I’ve yet to find a replacement that I’m happy with. Meh.

  7. Katrine says

    I am annoyed about google reader too. I am currently liking Feed Demon. I like that you can open the entire blog in the program and leave comments without opening a new tab or window like you had to on Google reader.

  8. hairyshoefairy says

    I’m sorry about your uncle. My family is close like that, too, and losing an uncle would be really hard on us. Every family dynamic is different and I’m sad some don’t get the experience of growing close to wonderful aunts and uncles.

    I’m annoyed about the Google Reader thing, too. I tried Feedly about a year ago and didn’t love it. It seemed too complicated to me. I decided to give it a try again a couple of months ago, though, and, after a bit of a learning curve, it’s growing on me. There are still some things I don’t like and/or don’t understand but in general I like it. I must say, I prefer the mobile version to the desktop version. I feel like it’s easier for me to find what I’m looking for and mark things as read. So I think that’s what I’m going to stick with for now. I really loved GR, though, and am sad to see it go.

    • jessica says

      Thank you!

      I’ll have to give Feedly another try, it was so sluggish when I tried it before. I wish someone would just duplicate GR. Or why couldn’t they sell it to willing developers?

  9. Deann says

    darn! I wonder what this will do to Google Currents? I wish they made a version of that for desktop..

  10. Lisa says

    I used to use and love bloglines.com before I switched to google reader… because bloglines was shutting down at that point. But bloglines came back so I’m just going to switch back to them. Might be worth checking out. I don’t know how it is compared to how it used to be but in the past I loved it.

    • jessica says

      Oh I remember bloglines from a million years ago. I’ll have to go check them out. It might at least be somewhat familiar.

  11. Laura says

    I had no idea that there was such a thing as a post de-truncator and I am ex.ci.ted. Thank you!

    Like the previous commenter, I was bummed when Bloglines went under a few years ago and I had to move to google reader (and then frustrated when they got bought and didn’t close after all), but if it still works like it did then, I’ll go back to it.

  12. Sonja says

    I had bloglines, too, and now reader is abandoning me as well. LE SIGH! What I will definitely miss a lot is the ‘next’ button. The ‘next’ button is (WAS!) the best thing about google reader.

    • jessica says

      Isn’t that funny, I never even used it! I just loved how all the posts were in one big line and I could just scroll right through them all. SO. LOVELY.

    • jessica says

      I tried it on the day of the announcement (linked above) but it might have been bogged down with the influx of traffic as it would not work for me. I tried it again, and it’s just so different, I’m not sure how I feel about it. Are you liking it?

    • jessica says

      OH, I just saw where you can view ‘all’ and then have full articles show. Oh this might work. So I clicked the button to ‘connect with Google Reader’ does that actually migrate my feeds? Or it’s only connected so it will go poof after July 1?

  13. Julie says

    I’m excited about the Full Text RSS feed. Thanks for the share!

    I need to look into the mobile options of what you have mention, since that is how I mainly use GR. Most of my design peers are switching to feedly. We’ll see!

    • jessica says

      Isn’t that wonderful? I love full text RSS.

      Oh you guys and your smart phones. Ha ha, I just need an easy peasy desktop solution. Le sigh.

  14. Kate says

    Oh no! I haven’t checked GR since the news came out, I guess, but it is and has been my reader for years! I need something that works with Firefox AND has an Android app. Oh, this is sad.

    But not REALLY sad, of course. .Not like, real world sadness, like the passing of dear family members. We are so silly with our first world problems aren’t we?

    I’m so sorry about your family’s loss. What a hard thing to have to go through, for everyone involved.

    • jessica says

      Yes, right. It’s like this dumb annoyance, but sheesh, I wish there were at least a nice alternative.

      Thanks so much, the funeral and service were so lovely. I’ll have a few photos soon.
      xo

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