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05 July 2013

Perfect (suckless) Google Reader alternative

Since a month a have been using the perfect alternative to Google Reader. My requirements were:
  • Sync between laptop computer and Android device
  • Quick reading experience, no clutter
  • Easy navigation: next, previous, delete
  • Tagging
All these requirements are met by an old technique that has been around since the very first beginning of the internet: email. 

So I set up several IFTTT recipes: whenever there is a new feed item on a certain feed, it sends an email via a gmail account to an emailaddress (feedtag)+feed@(myemaildomain).nl. Setting up the recipes is the most time-consuming part, as far as I know there is no API to do this apart from the web UI of IFTTT, and you have to enter each feed URL as a different recipe. But this is a one-time operation. 

A nice email template for this in IFTTT is:

subject: {{FeedTitle}} - {{EntryTitle}}
<strong><a href="{{EntryUrl}}">{{EntryTitle}}</a> 
- via {{FeedTitle}}</strong>

After that I set up a filter in my email that files all *+feed@* emails to a special folder called "Feeds". I could refine that further, but I cleaned up my feed list and as of now, I don't need extra folders or filters.

Now I can read my feeds both on my Android device via IMAP and on my desktop computer in the email webinterface, without the need of a sucky Google Reader wannabe.