Goodbye Google Reader, Hello RSS

Google has announced the sunset of Google Reader.  It has been my primary news reader for years and I’ve continued to stick with it, even when it lost some functionality with the shift to Google+.  The decision to get rid of it means finding a decent replacement but I’m probably going to have to change my reading habits.

There are loads of very good RSS clients.  Unfortunately, many of them are mobile – see Flipboard and Pulse, for example – and shift away from the universal access I enjoyed with Reader.  Some services, like Feedly, offer RSS support over the Web and a mobile app.  I took a quick look at Feedly but can’t figure out how to access feeds without a Google Reader linkage.

Some of them also lack the ability to import your current RSS subscriptions, which you’ll be able to export from Google Reader as an OPML file.  Feedly allows importing OPML through a work around – which requires Google Reader!  The ubiquity of Google Reader meant that a number of the other RSS feed readers relied on it.  If you read an RSS news item in one reader, it won’t necessarily be marked as read in another one.  These other readers would synchronize your activity with Google Reader.

Alternatives to Google Reader:  Desktop, E-mail, Browser

There are plenty of desktop RSS readers for Windows users.  Of the ones I’ve reviewed recently, I really like JetBrain’s Omea Reader, which has a variety of extra features for managing RSS.  Newsgator got rid of Feed Demon, but the developer has kept it going and it’s worth a look. Update:  Nevermind:  the developer’s decided to stop supporting it.

Mac users can try NetNewsWire, which also works with iOS devices.  Ubuntu users might look at Liferea for a straightforward desktop RSS reader.  Your e-mail software can also sometimes act as an RSS reader.  Microsoft Outlook can track your feeds and you can add feeds to Mozilla’s Thunderbird, although it’s reaching the end of its life as well.

Your Web browser may also have a good RSS extension.  It won’t provide you universal access but it can enable you to re-use your current technology.  For those of us in organizations where we may not be able to install new software, this may be a good option.  Mozilla Firefox users should take a look at Sage or Brief.

Another option may be to use a portable RSS reader.  Portable Apps has a packaged version of the QuiteRSS reader.  It will import your RSS reader and you can take it with you and run it on your current computer.

Next Steps

I’ve already downloaded my OPML file from Google Takeout and am moving on.  I’m probably going to go with Omea Reader.  It will change my work habits – I’ll probably read my RSS less often away from work – but it has a lot of powerful features that should help me to manage the information that I come across better.

Update:  No, I’m not.  Something’s not quite right with Omea and it’s not updating properly [I decided to go cold turkey this morning, so totally flipped off Google Reader].  I’m liking using Brief + Firefox at the moment, and am wondering if I can use Firefox’s sync feature to keep my unread information updated across machines.

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