Sad exit for The Old Reader, where next for RSS news?

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It has been a tumultuous year for those following the Internet via RSS. First Google pulls its massively popular Google Reader service, then we had a mad scramble while bloggers, journalists, enthusiasts and news fans all tried to source alternatives. One of those that was recommended by many, including me, due to its intentional similarity to Google Reader, was The Old Reader. In fact, it became so successful (from a couple of thousand to almost half a million) that the private indviduals behind the project have had to call it a day, with the service closing in just under two weeks for most people. Sadly for Symbian fans, especially, since it will take a promising Symbian client (ThOR) with it.

For the background to this, see my feature from March:

...finding 'The Old Reader'. As the name implies, it's based on the classic Google Reader function and look and feel, even using the same keyboard shortcuts in a desktop browser. You can sign in using Google details and your Reader subscriptions are then a one-click import. As I didn't yet trust the service, I opted to log in with Facebook (I save this for all miscellaneous cloud services) and import my .XML feed file directly - the import process takes around thirty minutes on their server, so I then went and made a cup of tea...

Importantly, The Old Reader also has a first class mobile-friendly version. It's a little Javascript-heavy and so isn't lightning fast in Opera Mobile or Web, but happily the magic of Opera Mini (and server-side optimisation) brings The Old Reader to Symbian in a surprisingly sprightly form.



Today's news from The Old Reader team is heartfelt and understandable, I suspect that most of us hadn't realised that this was such a private operation and subject to such stresses and strains. From The Old Reader's blog post:

The truth is, during last 5 months we have had no work life balance at all. The “life” variable was out of equation: you can limit hours, make up rules on time management, but this isn’t going to work if you’re running a project for hundreds of thousands of people. Let me tell you why: it tears us to bits if something is not working right, and we are doing everything we can to fix that. We can’t ignore an error message, a broken RAID array, or unanswered email. I personally spent my own first wedding anniversary fixing the migration last Sunday. Talk about “laid back” attitude now. And I won’t even start describing enormous sentimental attachment to The Old Reader that we have.

We would really like to switch the difficulty level back to “normal”. Not to be dreaded of a vacation. Do something else besides The Old Reader. Stop neglecting ourselves. Think of other projects. Get less distant from families and loved ones. The last part it’s the worst: when you are with your family, you can’t fall out of dialogues, nodding, smiling and responding something irrelevant while thinking of refactoring the backend, checking Graphite dashboard, glancing onto a Skype chat and replying on Twitter. You really need to be there, you need to be completely involved. We want to have this experience again.

That’s why The Old Reader has to change. We have closed user registration, and we plan to shut the public site down in two weeks. We started working on this project for ourselves and our friends, and we use The Old Reader on a daily basis, so we will launch a separate private site that will keep running. It will have faster refresh rate, more posts per feed, and properly working full-text search — we are sure that we can provide all this at a smaller scale without that much drama, just like we were doing before March....

Give me my data!

You will have two weeks to export your OPML file regardless of our decision. OPML export link is located at the bottom of the Settings page — use the top-right menu to get there. All posts that you saved for later by using Pocket integration will obviously remain in your Pocket account....

What next?

...We feel great responsibility for the project. We’d rather provide a smooth and awesome experience for 10 000 users than a crappy one for 420 000. Sorry, each and everyone if we failed you. You are an incredible, supportive and helpful community. The best we could possibly hope for.

All the love,
Elena Bulygina and Dmitry Krasnoukhov

Most disappointed of all, of course, will be the developer of ThOR, a Symbian client for The Old Reader. ThOR hadn't yet reached maturity, but now it's probably somewhat dead in the water, through no fault of its own. Very sad.

At which point most Symbian users will have to look elsewhere. My original article did highlight a number of RSS clients, none perfect. The natural heir to Google Reader's cloud legacy is probably Feedly, a much more well-resourced enterprise than The Old Reader, and this is the best point to remind you that we've recently had a full Symbian client for it, in the shape of gNewsReader 2.0, refashioned from Google Reader support over the last few months.

From my extended news piece:

gNewsReader - the Feedly generation - screenshotgNewsReader - the Feedly generation - screenshot

As I said at the time, you can download gNewsReader 2.0 here in the Nokia Store for free. Highly recommended - it's not perfect yet, but it (along with Feedly itself) gives the RSS/news addicts of the world a way forwards on Symbian that's fast and intuitive.

In the meantime, my sympathies go out to The Old Reader staffers, having worked themselves into the ground, and to 'asturcon3', ThOR's developer.

Source / Credit: The Old Reader