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YouTube has apparently reinstated RSS feeds (brianschrader.com)
224 points by sonicrocketman on Nov 15, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments

I've been playing with the idea and have a prototype of a "Youtube Manager" for lack of not having a better name app powered by electron. I have some 300+ subscriptions (yeah I know... but these are curated very interesting channels that upload often) and yt's interface is horrible to keep track of uploads/subscriptions. I don't care for spamming my inbox when someone uploads or push notifications and I tend to miss uploads I look forward to at times.

It has several layouts, my most used being a trello/tweetdeck setup with categories and fullscreen/overlayed video, also spent last weekend adding the mobile minimize video feature while able to search. It's been a sideproject for several months now and I find it highly useful but I was wondering if I should take the plunge and develop this into something more. I'm a bit hesitant seeing how youtube killed Streamus (http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/07/21/how-youtube-killed-...). But since this has popped up, would this be something that people are genuinely interested in and or would it be wise to release into the wild?

Edit: There exists http://flavio.tordini.org/minitube but this is way different and does more than just search, not as heavy either thanks to the chromium engine.

Heh, developer of Streamus here! Found myself reading your comment, prepping to write a response, and then saw you'd already mentioned it! Huzzah!

Overall, I wouldn't worry too much about what you're doing. Streamus was terminated because of complaints from record labels. That's not an issue you'd encounter. Just don't make it so good that it suddenly gets re-built in-house! :)

The idea itself seems useful enough. I agree that many parts of YouTube's interface could have improved usability. It's difficult to get people to keep YouTube + your website open, but if you can implement enough of their features to warrant only being on your page then I don't see any issues.

Hey, Hi! Haven't had the time to try Streamus when it was still active, but kudos on the extension!

I was wondering, how stupid would it be to bundle youtube-dl with a NWJS/Electron app and make a user accept an EULA where you have a disclaimer that you're not responsible for anything, and have the app function like Spotify but using youtube-dl to fetch the DASH m4a/opus audio files off of YouTube and play them, thereby removing ads and minimizing data usage...

I am in the process of making such an app, but not a lawyer, so not sure how well it'd go... It would be open source...

Hey :) Thanks.

I don't think you'd encounter any legal issues. You're not using YouTube's API to retrieve anything. That said, it's pretty easy to imagine how they could neuter the product if it grew large enough. It'd go down similar to AdBlock vs ad-network. Both sides constantly adding/changing keys, challenge responses & answers, etc.

You can put in place all the contractual provisions you want with the user but your relationship with the user is irrelevant. It is your relationship with the host/owner of the content that matters.

Streamus attracted Google's ire because it bypassed ads and separated out audio and visual content. Both of these attributes look to be features of your proposed app. On that basis it is likely to attract Google's attention.

Having said that, it's likely that they wouldn't bother pursuing you until your app became popular, as was the case with Streamus...

Sorry, just to clarify -- Streamus did not bypass ads. The minimum allowed video player is 200px * 200px, their ad network doesn't run on that small of a player because advertisers were unwilling to pay to have their ad shown that small. I was initially accused of this by their legal department, but if you read through the entire e-mail chain, you'll see they eventually relent and admit that advertisements are not an issue.

Additionally, I did patch in support for video content (and wrote a huge post on the tech. challenges of it: https://medium.com/@MeoMix/beautifully-buffered-bytes-ff798e...), but that proved insufficient.

YouTube took the view point that Chrome extensions should function similar to mobile apps not like browser tabs. They indicated they wanted the music paused whenever the main UI window minimized. I argued that would be like pausing YouTube when you click between tabs. They disagreed and terminated my API access.

what would be an acceptable amount of cache storage for such an app, would you think?

because one thing I don't like about streaming is that the content can be gone next time you want to hear it. I use youtube-dl to save videos (or often just the audio stream) because of this.

If you leave out the video stream, they're quite tiny (in context of modern storage). A quick scan of my saved .opus files, shows the same rough ~1MB/min filesize that 128k mp3s have (except with way better quality of course).

For simplicity, I wouldn't cache anything. Run youtube-dl with the JSON dump option to get all the sources, find the best source, put the URL into a <audio> element and that's it. At least that's how I'd do it.

I loved the heck out of that extension was also one of the early people giving feedback waay back, ended up just piping my playlists to youtube-dl via a cron near the end. I do recall reading a back and forth email convo between you and Yt where it seem they just randomly axed it for some opaque reason but thanks for the clarification. Thanks for the reply and tips!

Edit: Apparently this is explained in the article I linked above, I just grabbed a random one to link to. I hadn't looked into it other than the imgur email chain.

Just give me a clean and simple way to sort my subscribed channels into groups, but also being able to group by title - some channels post a bunch of varied stuff all on the same channel and I find it annoying to keep track of the specific things I care about.

So, search?

If you aren't going to watch it until you are ready, it means you are still going to have to find it in whatever 'group' you make when you decide to. You could just search and hey, guess what, there they are.

What I'd love would be filtering features, which allow me to easily ignore certain series and cut down on updates I don't care about. Ideally with help to discover the right filter pattern, but regex would be fine for starters ;)

All I want is to be able to subscribe to channels that upload a lot without them completely clogging everything up. I want to be able to quarantine them off, so some sort of category function would be wonderful.

Uhm, what[1]?. It's been available at:


I know because I've been using those feeds every day for the channels I follow.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/youtube/comments/339idg/youtube_jus...

No, that's not the one that YouTube removed that annoyed everyone. You used to be able to get a single feed of the new videos on the channels you're subscribed to. That's not this, and still doesn't exist anymore.

Are you sure? I just set up a few IFTTT triggers and actions based on YouTube videos with a certain keywords from a couple of channels last week, and those channe specific RSS feeds worked just fine.

Edit: OK, I see what you mean. Unified feed across ALL channels you're subscribed to. That's not what I'm using.

Yup, the unified feed is exactly what I'm referring to.

Isn't that basically double subscribing to channels? The "viewed" indicators would be out of sync, why would you want to do that?

No. It was just a feed of the changes to the channels you're subscribed to. There's no double subscription here. It was this in feed form: https://www.youtube.com/feed/subscriptions

Imagine if you didn't have a youtube account and were using RSS feeds for particular channels. Would anyone do that if it were possible? Surely not! Nobody would prefer RSS feeds per channel that they were interested in, integrated into their existing feed reader.

What? It is possible, and it's exactly how I've been using YouTube for about a year. I don't have a YouTube account, I add the "Uploads" feed for each channel I'm interested in to my reader.

Then you're not actually subscribed to any channel, and you don't show up as a subscriber in their analytics.

That's one of the main reasons I use it that way. Aside from that, it's been a better experience than subscribing in YouTube, when I did that, there'd be a number next to the channels but I could never decipher exactly what it meant, it certainly wasn't just new uploads.

Then why did you make the remark about 'double subscribing'?

Also, there's a good reason for subscribing to channels: it actually help the channel creator because the subscriber number (which is what that number is) feeds into their algorithms regarding reach.

Put simply, you're wrong.

OK, then you point me to the unified feed for your subscriptions that YouTube publish.

Oh wait, you can't, because there hasn't been one for ages now. They only have per-channel and per-playlist feeds.

I had this quite shity function to give me the feed URL of a channel when I give it the URL of a video:

  idyoutube ()
    if [[ "$1" = *\=* ]]; then
        vidid=$(echo "$1" | cut -d "&" -f 1 | cut -d "=" -f 2);
        vidid=$(echo "$1" | cut -d "/" -f 4);
    id=$(curl -s "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=${vidid}" | tac | \grep "data-channel-external-id=" -m 1 | tr " " "\n" | \grep "data-channel-external-id" -m 1 | cut -d '"' -f 2)
    echo -en "https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=${id}\n"

I don't think this is anything new.

The feature they got rid of was a single RSS feed for all your subscriptions.

They've had per channel RSS feeds and OPML export since they got rid of that, I believe.

Yeah, I was confused as well, as I don't follow channels directly on YouTube, but via RSS, and I've been doing that for 5+ years, at least.

For the curious, you can add a channel via this URL:

And follow a user via:


I must be misremembering. From what I remember, I used to subscribe the RSS feeds per-channel, but then they all had posts saying this feature was going away, and then they stopped working. Did they just change the URL or something?

I agree, they got rid of the single feed for all subscriptions, and that per-channel rss thing has existed for a long time and wasn't removed at all, afaik.

Is it just me or has RSS been a recurring topic for the last few days? Not that I'm complaining, I love RSS, but it's been an oddly popular topic.

It leaves me pondering whether publishers are beginning to consider it was a superior format for mass consumption that has been ignored at their own peril. There's just too much content out there and fatigue can quickly set in when hunting for suitable viewing material.

I believe Youtube generates more ad revenue when it's viewed directly on the site, instead of embedded in another website (Facebook). Plus producers know their content gets fairly prioritized by the end user when it's consumed through RSS.

Interesting. A bunch of my old dead YouTube RSS feeds suddenly had new posts (of old videos) in them this week.

They had killed off public rss feeds but you could still get an rss URL if you were singed in and subscribed to the channel.

They must have changed how it worked for a while. I've been subscribing to YouTube channels without a YouTube account for about a year now. In the "Uploads" section of a channel, there's been a "link" tag to the RSS feed in the markup which most RSS clients will detect, if not, you could copy the link right out of the markup.

I didn't know they were ever turned off. I don't have a Google account but I still want to see YouTube videos in my feed, so I have a script that subscribes to YT RSS feeds and emails them to me, with filters on my mail server to organize them. They've worked fine since I first set them up.

I hope this starts a trend. It has been very frustrating to see large services stop offering RSS feeds, often with no or cumbersome alternatives.

Try rss + client of your choice + youtube-dl streaming into the player of your choice. It's like a glimpse into what could have been had we all just sticked to standards.

Another option is using only the browser with a RSS extension, livestreamer.io (tons of options like player-passthrough=hls, player-continuous-http) and https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/open-with/

It works great for me.

They apparently have atom feeds for playlists too, not only channels.


AFAIK they don't advertise this anywhere.

They have always had RSS feeds. Maybe not easy to find but they do work.

Agree. I have couple of RSS on few of the search keywords; have been working fine for a while now. Feedly (which I don't use on daily basis) makes it very hard to extract the feed URL. I lost track of how I discovered YouTube RSS links.

They broke every RSS feed of channels in the folder I had. I've long deleted the folder now, and I'm unsure why I should trust them to have it work this time.

Yea a few years ago they changed the format of the urls without redirecting the old urls. Weak sauce.

This is not new at all.

Go to https://www.youtube.com/subscription_manager

and you can see the export option at the bottom of the page. It was never removed nor disabled.

That was never removed, but the single feed of your subscriptions was. Unfortunately, none of this replaces that.

I've been using this feature for a few months, in conjunction with my RSS reader.

It's a very nice alternative to YouTube's UI, as I can just pipe my stream of subscriptions to youtube-dl + my preferred native player.

Glad to see someone else is doing so!

Hello, a bit off topic but what rss reader do you use to pipe?


Why was the world suddenly against RSS a few years ago?

Short answer: advertisement profit. If you get to have news/articles headlines through RSS you wont bother visiting the actual website unless you it really interests you.

Awesome. YouTube becomes unmanageable if you subscribe to a lot of channels. There's no way to tag or put your channels in thematic groups which can now be fixed with an rss reader.

I hope this starts a trend. It has been very frustrating to see large services stop offering RSS feeds, often with no or cumbersome alternatives.


It used to be possible to get RSS for any YouTube search -- by keyword, not by channel. As far as I know, that's still gone.

Nice. This makes it so I could see only the videos I care about, for example some channels have multiple "personalities" uploading to it but I care only about one of them. I guess combining this with some filters would be nice.

>To get an RSS feed of a single channel’s uploads, paste the channel URL into your RSS reader.

How does this work? How does the feed-reader know to grab the RSS XML instead of the page HTML, if they have the same URL?

The RSS reader just looks for the,

   <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" href="yourfeed.rss" /> 
tag(s) in the head of your document. So for example, my channel:


Here's the tag in the source,

    <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCnQRp2dhO1SIp9--CSPmYpQ">

I know it's not hard to piece the rss feed together yourself, but I made a little tool so all you need to is the youtube channel/playlist url and the feed gets generated:


In Firefox, there is an option to customise the toolbar by adding a '(RSS) Subscribe' button to it. This becomes active when Firefox detects that a web page has an accompanying RSS feed. Clicking on it either brings you to the RSS feed directly or give you subscription options if multiple RSS/Atom feeds are found for the web page.

It makes sense for youtube to have them. Federation is not only for rss readers - there are many applications that can use it as well to push updated content to the users.

Now we just need Google to reinstate Reader!

OpenWeb! :D

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