A while back I wrote a post about how I collect and view Fly Fishing Blog posts into Google Reader, then view them at my leisure using an excellent iOS and Mac app called Reeder. As of July 1st, that method of keeping up with all things trout related on the Internet is not going to be available to me anymore.
The rest of this post is less fishing related, more computer nerdery. Not to the point of being complete gobbledygook, so may be of interest to you, but if you’re expecting to see talk of Mayflies, furled leaders, monster trout and scenic rivers, you might want to look elsewhere.
If you’re still reading, but haven’t got any Fly Fishing RSS feeds, I’ve put together a file with some of the best UK fishing blogs in it. You can download it at the end of this post and import it into most RSS readers.
Adios Google Reader
Google Reader is to be turned off for good on 1st July 2013 (that’s 6 days from now). I’ve used Google Reader for years firstly as my default RSS aggregator and reading tool, and more recently as my aggregator and sync tool.
The software I use along side Google Reader is called Reeder. I have it on my iPhone, iPad and desktop computer (iMac). Reeder connects to my Google Reader account and allows me to read the blog posts in there, and ensure each device holds the same blog posts ready for reading, and more importantly shows which have been read.
Most mornings, whilst enjoying my first (of many) cups of tea, I take a look through the previous days posts. The list of blogs I follow through Google Reader runs into the high 40’s. Not all are prolific writers, but there is always something new to read every day.
If like me, you’re using Google Reader as your RSS tool, you’ll need to change pretty sharpish. Let’s take a look at what you’re going to have to do, and what options are open to you.
Grab your stuff
The first thing you’ll need to do is extract your existing feeds from Google Reader. Google haven’t said exactly what’s going to happen on the 1st, but to be on the safe side you should download your subscription list now – before it’s too late.
1. Log in to Google Reader
Go to http://www.google.co.uk/reader/ and log in. Once you’ve done that, click the cog in the top right corner. From the drop down, select Reader Settings.
2. Choose ‘Export’
From the settings page, click the ‘Import/Export’ tab. Now click the blue ‘Download your data through Takeout’ at the bottom.
3. Create Archive
At the next screen, click ‘Create Archive’
You’ll now see a screen with a blue download button. You may need to log in again before you see this, if you get the login window again enter your password and you’ll be taken to the download page. Click the blue button and you’ll get a Zip file downloaded to your computer.
5. Rename the file
Most RSS readers/aggregators accept OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) files. When you download from Google Reader your feeds will have a file name ending .xml. You should change this to opml to ensure your feed reader accepts the file.
You won’t need the other files (ending json).
And that’s it – you’ve saved all your feeds from getting thrown out by Google.
Decide if you need a central host
If you’re only using one device to view your RSS feed, you may not need a service to replace Google Reader. You could use an application to monitor and download new RSS feeds for you. FeedDemon is a free Windows RSS reader, NetNewsWire was free on the Mac, it still is but only whilst in a Beta period for the new version. Reeder is also free for the time being. One of the biggest advantages of using a central RSS aggregator is it’s ability to allow you to connect via multiple devices and have your read count synchronised across those devices. If you only ever view your RSS feeds from an application on your Desktop computer, then you could have that application monitor all the blogs you’ve subscribed to by itself.
If you do use multiple devices, and want to retain the ability to synchronise your read count (this means if you read a post on your phone, it shows up as being read on your iPad/Computer etc), then you’ll need a replacement for Google Reader. When the news of Google Readers imminent demise was released, the list of possible alternatives was pretty short. Luckily, over the last few weeks/months a number of developers have taken up the mantle and provided us with some rather good options.
Google Reader Alternatives
None of the alternatives below are specifically Mac or PC – they’re hosted out on the internet and are quite happy to have any type of operating system connecting to them. Some have companion apps too. What they all do allow is dedicated ‘reading’ applications to use them. Even though I used Google Reader as my aggregator, I never logged into it and read the posts using it’s interface. The services below work in the same way (though if you want to view via their web interface, you could).
What you’ll notice for most of the alternatives below, is there’s a cost. On the face of it that may sound like a bad thing. However, I’m quite reassured by this, if it means the service will be retained and maintained going forward and have regular development and updates put into it, then I’m happy to pay for it. None of the alternatives are asking a fortune, and we’ve all got to earn a living haven’t we?
Cost: $2/month (that’s approx £1.30)
Provides a similar feature set to Google Reader. Has a developer API so lots of Reader applications will work with it. Decent web interface if that’s your thing.
Again, similar feature set to Google Reader. It’s free too. Web interface is very minimal. Has it’s own apps for iOS. Limited support from third party readers.
Cost: $30 one off fee (Approx. £19.40)
This one is more for the geeks amongst us. It requires you to have your own webserver, so if you’ve not got one, and have no interest in getting one, move along. If you’re still reading – this is a really cool way to go. I’ve had an instance of this running for some time and really like it.
Cost: $19/year (Approx. £12.30)
This is the one I find the most intriguing. It’s taken the features of Google Reader, so you’ve lost nothing there, but added filtering to the mix. This means you can automatically mark posts as read (and therefore not see them) based on their content or title. So if you aren’t interested in hearing about Carp fishing for example, create a filter to mark all posts with the work Carp in them as read. From here on in, you’ll never be bothered with carp related posts in your RSS feed!
Also worth keeping an eye on…
As well as the four options above, AOL has just announced their own web based RSS reader, as has Digg (remember them??). Neither are offering API’s for third party software to take advantage of with their opening release, but hopefully it’ll follow on soon.
After reading through to here you still can’t make your mind up how you want to tackle this, thats ok. It’s not a massive problem you need to solve now. What you do need to do, even if you do nothing else, is DOWNLOAD YOUR GOOGLE READER RSS SUBSCRIPTION LIST NOW!!! It might not be there after July 1st.
If you can’t be bothered with setting up your own RSS feed, but are interested in trying it, here’s a ready made Fly Fishing specific OPML file. Find yourself a reader and import this file – hey presto you’re off and running.
Click to Download: Fly Fishing RSS OPML file