Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The sad state of RSS on the Mac (notmyhostna.me)
98 points by dewey on July 20, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 114 comments

I use https://newsblur.com — it’s a web interface and service with apps available for iOS and Android.

The code is open source and actively developed, which gives me peace of mind when I pay my yearly subscription.

On my Mac I tried liking Reeder 3, but TBH NewsBlur’s web interface is better. Reeder can use NewsBlur’s API and the syncing between mobile and desktop is nice to have.

NewsBlur’s author has been very responsive to issues and has been actively improving the service.

I also tried self-hosting various web solutions but it’s too much of a hassle, a constant security risk and paying for a VPS ends up being more expensive.

For me, it's that I use a variety of systems and operating systems depending upon the circumstances. Unless it's relatively specialized tools (development environment, heavy-duty photo editing), I'd much rather have a web interface I can get to from anywhere rather than having a native app I can only use on one system. The native app has to be a lot better at some task.

If you run a cron job that turns your feed items into emails[1], you can use your regular IMAP client on any platform. I prefer it over both web clients and native feed readers.

[1] There are a bunch of tools that can do this, but I'm going to give a totally unbiased recommendation for https://github.com/zsau/feedmail/

I don't use a regular IMAP client :-) I read all my email through web interfaces too.

I've been using the free version of NewsBluer and the paid versions of Reeder3 on OSX and iOS for over a year now and I'm really with it (no affiliation with either). For an one-off payment of 18$ (for the Reeder apps) I think its pretty great.

The free NewsBlur does remove unread items older than 7 days or so I believe but the paid version raises that up to a month or so.

Through the combination I get a very good sync of my read, and starred items and Reeder 3 offers some nifty integrations with services like Pinboard and a decent built-in browser and a 'text only' version of the website which makes it easier to read in a small screen.

Brent Simmons working on new open-source[1] rss reader for macOS — Evergreen[2]. Brent is original author of NetNewsWire. He recently posted screenshot[3] of current Evergreen state.

    [1]: https://github.com/brentsimmons/Evergreen
    [2]: https://ranchero.com/evergreen/
    [3]: https://twitter.com/brentsimmons/status/1020079742869884928

I hate to say it because people seem to have some weird affinity for Pasco in the Mac community, but Black Pixel is where good apps go to die. They bought up Kaleidoscope and have effectively stopped all development on it (a paid diff viewer that still has no syntax highlighting).

What relationship does Black Pixel / Pasco have with Evergreen? Brent works for Omni, but Evergreen is a side project (through Ranchero).

I believe Black Pixel took over NetNewsWire (which was originally developed by Brent Simmons). http://netnewswireapp.com

Why does that app even exist? All its features are natively implemented in git.

And an RSS reader? I'm starting to get the feeling that Mac apps are stuck in 2005.

Say all you want about Microsoft or Electron, but VS Code is the only developer app on my computer that doesn't feel out of place or have a strange and outdated UI. I don't care that it's consuming the resources of my cheap desktop computer slightly faster than another app might, it gets the job done and it's intuitive and works well.

Kaleidoscope has a bunch of great features, like diffing images and easily resolving merge conflicts with a few clicks. It also integrates into other git GUI tools like Tower for Mac. Of course if you live in the Terminal it's probably not very tempting to use. It's a matter of personal preference.

I still use it from time to time even though I know that it's probably at the end of it's life.

I use kaleidoscope with the git cli. I like using git from the command line, except for dealing with merge conflicts, so I have kaleidoscope pick up merges through its mergetool hook.

> only developer app on my computer that doesn't feel out of place

VS Code feels nothing like any other app on my Mac.

The window chrome doesn't look like a Mac app. Resizing a window resizes like an app from the 90s (content doesn't layout until the resize finishes, only the window border resizes live). The scroll bars aren't consistent with any other app, neither are the tabs. Scrolling content doesn't overscroll and rubberband like other scroll views.

You might personally prefer the UI in VS Code, but it is the poster child for "strange UI" on that platform.

That's exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. Thank you. I'll follow that development closely!

I'm pretty sure this is going to eventually become the platform standard. Really excited about the project.

(Other than that, it seems completely natural for a feed reader to be a web app. Not sure what the fuss is about.)

I use Reeder for Mac (and iOS) with Feedly and while I understand the author's reluctance to buy, I haven't had any real problems with the apps in all my years of usage. Although I must say I recently contacted the author with a tiny feature request and didn't hear back from them either.

RSS is just a niche product, bring it up with your average user and they probably won't know what you're talking about. I'm just glad these apps are still around. Maybe we'll once get a resurgence like Podcasts.

I too am very happy with Reeder. It actually is kept up to date. Came out with iPhone X support promptly, for example.

I think we’re just conditioned to expect super frequent updates for everything every few weeks. Reeder is old school that way.

Having said that I only use it on iOS. On the Mac I use Feedly in a browser.

Reeder is excellent, and I've been happy with it, but the author is not usually quick to update it. iPhone X support was a notable exception.

Another Reeder user here. It’s been excellent for years.

Reeder works well enough; just because an app hasn't been updated in a year doesn't mean it's not worth paying for and using. The author's "hey I used this for a long time and stopped when it became paid can you promise me updates" letter is obnoxious.

The one thing I wish it had was a webview that would honor my content blockers; I think it's still using an outdated webview API on macOS.

Obnoxious letter author here, just to clarify: I'm not stingy and I bought all versions of Reeder on iOS and two versions for macOS. It's not about the 10 bucks, I just don't want to find a new solution / problem every time it goes through stretches of no activity for years, breaks on new OS versions or crashes frequently like some people here reported too.

If there's an app with subscription pricing where I know it's a sustainable app for the developer and it'll get adapted to support new macOS features (or updated APIs like you said) then I'm happy to do that. I don't need updates every month, I just want to know that if there's a problem the developer will deal with it at some point.

> inbox got a bit out of hand by having too many unread items piled up. I slowly stopped looking at them before abandoning the idea completely

And this is precisely why it's insane and counterproductive to have unread counts on an RSS feed.

Don't obsess over reading every last article. It's a feed. Read what looks interesting. Let other things go. Don't track what you've read or what you've missed. There's nothing down that path but frustration and stress.

And yet, almost no RSS developers see the wisdom in this, and they prefer to embrace the dumb idea with open arms.

I think that also wouldn't solve the issue, what needs to be handled better is the difference between high volume feeds and low volume feeds.

I absolutely want to see every post of my friend's blog that has a post every few months. What I don't care about is to get every single MacRumors post with the latest gossip because that would make up about 15 items / day. I've seen some of the hosted solutions going into that direction but there doesn't seem to be a self-hosted or app doing that yet.

> I absolutely want to see every post of my friend's blog

I handle this by subdividing my feeds into useful categories- a feature which every RSS client supports.

My friend's blogs are placed in a category alongside other low-volume feeds. I never miss a post.

I'll through in a cross platform RSS solution: http://offog.org/code/rawdog/

I found a project similar to this, but unfortunately I can't find it again. Rawdog is a little rough around the edges, but worth a try.

Or, better yet, let me turn the unread counter on or off for specific feeds.

Yeah, Winds doesn't show any unread counts https://github.com/GetStream/Winds Less stress

I’m using Reeder 3 and it’s actually quite good. The author updates it when it’s necessary but yeah, no new features are in the pipeline apparently.

Same here. It seems to check all the authors needs, other than being constantly updated.... But then, if it's not broke, not sure what need there is to keep pushing updates?

Reeder is the best right now, but author disappears for a long stretch of time without updates, then large release, few bug-fix releases and then again quiet time. Despite the fact he promised more frequent updates recently — he's been silent for a long time to think Reeder is dead. It's been crashing a lot lately, so not sure what to expect.

I think this is to be expected, since the app is not subscription-based.

We should all switch to subscriptions for apps that we use seriously, to avoid this exact problem.

It’s an RSS reader. I don’t expect anything but bug fixes, because I’m not sure there are any new features I’d care about. Reeder does it’s job and does it well.

My only complaint would be I’d prefer to use the native share sheet, not have to go through the Reeder one to get to the native one. But that’s not a huge problem. And I think Reeder may predate useful share sheets in iOS.

It's crashing a lot for me lately, to the tune of every 100 articles, or sometimes when you go in/out the web view too fast. Mind you, I'm not a power user at all, just a regular feed consumer.

This happened a lot on High Sierra, and the Mojave beta has made it much worse (although that is to be expected).

Huh. I can’t remember Reeder ever crashing, and I’ve just checked and found none in the logs. Different usage patterns I guess.

Reeder crashes for me if I leave it open all of the time, usually sometime between the 24-48 hour mark. But if I'm just opening it, reading, and then closing, it seems to be fine.

Ditto, though I open it maybe 3-5 times in a day and rarely have more than 50 or so articles queued up. Also, I open links in Safari instead of the built in web view on both Mac and iOS.

I use Reeder syncing with Feedbin. I couldn't be happier. Yes, Reeder rarely gets an update but it works well and I believe it gets updated whenever is necessary — which is enough for me.

Feedbin, however, is just fantastic. Easily the best service I've been using for years, along with Pinboard.

I'm using the same combination. Daily and with zero issues.

Of course I'd wish Reeder was more actively developed, but thinking about it there simply isn't anything missing. And if OP is dissatisfied with the available RSS clients there's always Feedbin's web interface.

Here's a free alternative: https://github.com/GetStream/Winds

I wonder what exactly the author misses in Reeder. I've been using it for years, and did not even notice that it wasn't being updated.

I have feeds. They have posts. I read (some). The end.

There's nothing I'm missing, nothing that's broken. Complaining just about missing updates probably explains why the author never got to read anything: he was too busy fiddling with the reading experience.

I don't miss anything from Reeder, I use it on iOS already and it's all great. I also don't really have a problem with spending the money for Reeder. I'm just worried that in a few months when Mojave comes out all kinds of things are going to break and I have to look for a new solution.

This is one advantage Windows has over Mac. A straightforward windows app that worked fine in say 2004 on will still work fine in 2018. They don't break the damn system every year.

I'm running Reeder on the Mojave beta and ... nothing changed.

That's great. Will it get updated to the new dark mode, will it get fixed if the new beta version breaks it? I was just trying to get a sign of life from the developer / developers. As someone else already said it has a history of activity and being abandoned for long stretches of time.

>I was just trying to get a sign of life from the developer / developers

This seems a little weird, no? Reeder's a one time purchase, not a subscription service or anything, so it seems kinda strange to be so worried about "a sign of life" for it. Lots of software used every day live in "maintenance only" or even "not maintained mode".

I'm not demanding an SLA or monthly updates. It's the same as with pulling a dependency into your projects, you are checking if the author is still around, the issues are being worked on and if other people are using it too.

It has always had a dark mode. Or, more accurately, 10 or so color schemes, half of them dark.

I don't get this obsession with the "last update date". Are there major bugs open? Did the underlying platform change and the app got left behind? Are there any major features missing?

Software applications are never "complete", but at some point we can stop fiddling all the time.

If I had a popular piece of software out there, once I reached the point of feature completeness (yes, I believe it is possible if you're a reasonable person), and stability I would do meaningless updates once every 3 months just to keep people that you're referring to happy and using my product. People aren't smart enough to just "be happy" and content, so you have to trick them into product satisfaction.

I’ve been using News Explorer for a while now and it’s been pretty good. Dev is active, app is stable, syncing works, it’s not Electron.

Not commenting on the app itself, but isn't kind of a sad thing when discussing an app and stating "not Electron" is probably a major selling point?

This. News Explorer is great.

I personally use News Explorer, both on macOS and iOS. It syncs via iCloud; I don't need or want some third party subscription service.

I only use it for Youtube subscriptions though, so that I don't need a Google account to follow channels I like.

This looks pretty great, thanks! I'll look into it even if it doesn't have Fever integration. iCloud sync sounds neat.

I use the inoreader web app, which works quite well. I don't think RSS is the type of thing that really needs its own native app anyway.

Emacs and elfeed combined with swiper were the revelation for me personally. I am finally satisfied with offline RSS Mac experience.

Came here to plug this.

I'm working with the author to make a feed summary page like some other readers have, if you prefer to see things collapsed that way.

I don't use swiper, but Emacs + Elfeed is indeed a great experience; especially so if you tag all your RSS feeds when adding them. Also, if you have EMMS, you can play podcasts right away pressing P in the * elfeed-show * buffer.

It's web based not a desktop app but after Google Reader went down I somehow ended up with Newsblur and it's actually pretty good. The iOS and Android app is also nice.

I just recently started using Cappucino[1] from the makers of Airmail[2], gotta say it feels like the spiritual successor to Reeder

  [1] https://rink.hockeyapp.net/apps/902c8f3a570242808ebb00495f5fa04d  
  [2] http://airmailapp.com

As someone who next to a Mac also uses Windows I just gave up on native RSS apps. Somehow RSS (or Twitter) apps never got traction on Windows.

There are some nice self-hosted RSS aggregators but in the end I just 'solved' this problem by subscribing to Inoreader. Its web app is convenient, resource-friendly and has more features than I will ever need. Their Android app also looks very polished. It is reliable to fetch article contents for header only feeds and because most RSS feeds are just pointers to web content I am just fine with not having a native app on my Mac/PC.

I use RSS in Outlook and Thunderbird.

Tangentially, I'm looking for a good RSS reader for iOS (preferably free and well designed, but paid ones are ok too).

I used to use Pulse, but it was bought by LinkedIn and completely messed up after that. Then I switched to using Apple News to follow some sites. But News is not a proper RSS reader as such, and Apple has done little to improve it since it was released with iOS 9 — still supported and available only in a few countries, cannot add RSS feeds, cannot find certain sites through a search, and very weird bugs if one switches the region setting. It's basically abandonware, as far as feature richness and expansion are concerned. Three years on, I still don't understand why the app cannot be available worldwide and work as a feed reader too.

I've tried Flipboard, but I don't like the fancy magazine-like layout and navigation (which I find unintuitive).

I like Newsify. iCloud sync, no nonsense, free with minor paid upgrade I didn’t need but paid to support the developer.

I you don't like fancy magazine-like layouts, you can try https://aktu.io, it's a rss reader+news aggregator i built. Would love some feedback!

I like Fiery Feeds after trying everything else. (Unread was the best option I'd found before that.)

I like Feedly quite a lot and have been using it for years

Just a vote for the oft-ignored RSS Owl. Don't know about the maintenance status, I see the web page is only copyright to 2015. But it works well.


Yeah, it's getting pretty old and there are a lot of unfixed exploitable vulnerabilities. Plus I was starting to have trouble using it with sites that had bleeding edge https/ssl configs.

I ended up switching to the slightly more modern Liferea a couple months ago. https://lzone.de/liferea/ I don't like the interface quite as much but it's workable.

For me it’s the Newsblur web interface on desktop, and the wonderful Unread on iOS. I paid for it years ago and it’s still getting updated monthly with new features and bug fixes, even though it has changed hands twice in the meantime.

I've been using ReadKit with very few issues for 4-5 years now. Maybe it's just that specific integration but it works fine with Feedly.

This is a bit off topic, but with so many people recommending what they use in this thread I thought it would be a good place to ask.

Can anyone recommend a good online newsreader that has a solid docker deployment? NewsBlur looked promising, but their app requires four setup steps to be executed in the terminal. I'd like something that gets pretty close to Twelve-Factor deployment.

Yes, I’d also recommend Miniflux. It’s great!

miniflux offers docker image

I've started using NetNewsWire on the Mac in...2005? Earlier? They can pry RSS from my dead cold hands.

I wish ReadKit didn't seem abandoned. Great keyboard shortcuts, Pocket integration, and no attempts to algorithmically sort items. I wonder if this is another app that got hurt by the lack of upgrade pricing in the Mac App Store. I'd pay again if I could.

NetNewsWire is getting a successor, Evergreen [0].

[0] https://twitter.com/brentsimmons/status/1020079742869884928

I'm not sure what ReadKit is missing, to be honest. It looks a little dated but you've got to be used to that if you're a NNW fan.

I too still use NetNewsWire, no reason to change since there is nothing better and it still works fine

Never really liked RSS on the mac, used Google Reader, then switched to Feedly but wanted a little bit more, so i built https://aktu.io, a RSS reader + news aggregator, kind of a mix between Google Reader and Google News.

Would love some feedback!

I'm RSS reader for more than 8 years. I just moved to online services long time a go. Despite the sad fact that they disappeared after a while(Google Reader, Digg Reader) they are great and hassle free. Currently I'm using Feedly and that is how I'm here now.

I'm looking for a new RSS service, the problem is, that the one I liked best raised its price over the limit I'm comfortable with at this moment. So I'm out of luck. I have given up search for a good RSS application.

Try Winds, it's free

Winds is one of those Electron-based applications, and the idea of having for each application an entire web browser installed and running sounds more then weird to me. I'd prefer a progressive web application or native local application or a simple web site.

I think this might be a moot problem once Mojave allows you to use iOS apps on the Mac. The RSS reader situation on iOS is much more dynamic and would probably translate fairly well to the keyboard and mouse.

I still use NetNewsWire 3.1.7. It's still the best RSS reader I've ever used. It has become more crashy as the OS updates come though, presumably as Apple keeps breaking its APIs.

I'm very happy with NetNewsWire 3.3.2 on Mac OS El Capitan 10.11.6.

I emailed the developer of Reeder about exporting my Readability's bookmarks, but never got a reply. I feel better now that I'm not the only one not getting a reply. Thanks!

I use Shrook. It is native, lightweight, fast, and free.

> It's open source and looks awesome

"Looks awesome"? As the CEO/Founder of the company that makes it, have you not tried it?

I think they're complimenting the appearance of the app.

I have used Thunderbird on Elfeed on Mac, both are quite good. Just not standalone applications.

I also add rssguard and quiterss to the list, but I don't know about Fever.

I didn't know about them but they'd probably both not qualify as a nice to look at native Mac app personally.

I see.

What about running TT-RSS locally and fetching from it with FeedTheMonkey? Probably the same limitations, but I put it out there.

been using newsfire rss (http://www.newsfirerss.com/) for a long long time.

still works perfectly for me...

I use Reeder, syncing with Inoreader. Works great for me.

Reeder in combination with Inoreader is my choice.

Why both?

Thunderbird to the rescue...

Reeder is awesome.

Have you tried Vienna? I've happily used it for the last several years now. It's open-source.


I second that recommendation, adding only that I also use TheOldReader and it all works pretty well together. I've never tried it with any other kind of sync backend, but I'd like to.

If anyone has any suggestions for a FOSS selfhosted sync backend, I'd appreciate them.

I am huge fan of Vienna on macOS. Currently I have my ~/Library/Application Support/Vienna symlinked to Dropbox in order to have my feeds synced across computers. I wish there was a better, more robust way.

+1 for Vienna, simple and free working solution. It's a reminder that free open-source software is great on only on Linux.

I haven't tried it, heard about it before and—being from Austria—always liked the name. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to support Fever.

I think you can write plugins for Vienna, maybe that would allow you to integrate that service.

Fever is mentioned by a (main?) developer in one of the issues (dated 2013)


Is it just me, or they just don't have any screenshots anywhere? I'd like to see the interface before downloading and running it.

Vienna developer here: Thanks for the suggestion - I’ll work on fixing the website this weekend.

We had some issues with Wordpress a year ago and I haven’t got around to finishing the site.

Yea, this also baffles my mind. It's probably the first thing I look for before even thinking of downloading something. Google images only has screenshots of very old versions it seems.

Lack of screenshots usually indicates to me that the interface is probably not worth showing.

Thank you, that actually looks better than expected.

I've only had it a week or so and it seems pretty good, you can arrange things in folders and it has smart folders to, which create dynamic lists using criteria - haven't looked at them yet - they're not something I need. It hasn't crashed yet and seems to just work.

... or the main developer is not a marketer.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact