You basically infringe your own mission statement:
> Our mission is to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. An Internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent.
Most users don't know what RSS is until it is explained to them. Most users don't know what pocket and a whole bunch of other things are either until some explanation is given.
That said I do find open, broadly supported standards liberating, but I'm a developer. And at times even I give up in favor of simpler, inferior solutions.
1. Show an icon when the current site supports RSS feeds.
2. Make that icon a button that leads to the rendered RSS feed.
3. Have a way there to subscribe to the feed.
Live bookmarks were a strange feature, I'm not saying they are the perfect solution to handle point three. It could be something like the reader selection list of https://www.subtome.com/
> And at times even I give up in favor of simpler, inferior solutions.
RSS is already the most simple solution for its problem.
You know, rather less than the low level of effort put in to promoting the recently purchased Pocket.
If people can be enthusiastic about wanting auto-updating podcast apps or push notifications and auto-updating news then RSS "failed" for reasons other than capabilities or being too complex to grok.
This mindset comes from for-profit companies. It makes sense for them to obsess about metrics and engagement. But what are you losing by challenging users and making something good?
So much amazing and important software has poor engagement with uneducated users, but it would be considered worthless garbage because it isn't popular with users who don't care in the first place.
This is basically how Google hobbled RSS and why it’s on life support today. Reader was great and free. It got cannibalized for their erstwhile social networking bid and the entire ecosystem nearly died when it went away because it had the market cornered.
FF should work on the features that Chrome is ignoring, like RSS, so that those core set of people continue using FF. It's stupid to take the mentality of a for-profit product when they are strictly non-profit. So what if very few people are using it, it's the collection of features that will define Firefox over Chrome.
You're not going to win by taking on Chrome head-to-head, that's a losing battle.
Staying focused on developer tools, being an improved clone of chrome, using rust to achieve better security/speed/clarity, and beating chrome to implementing standards will make them the browser developers do alpha testing on instead of the second platform. That eventually means the most popular browser.
Google's needs push chrome into the wrong place and the wrong priorities just like every vendor provided browser before chrome. I.e. C++ sucks but Alphabet politically has no replacement because their real needs are either server side services (go) or 3rd party developer languages (dart? Something to replace java?) that can't be the foundation of a decent browser.
Chrome is only as successful as it is since Mozilla has a cycle of destroying a fast and debuggable system by trying to bring in the kitchen sink. The very existence of FF is from a group that forced Mozilla to back away from a suite of everything every fringe user wanted that was becoming the worst experience imaginable.
The simpler and most likely answer is that the number of people who use RSS but don’t use a dedicated native or online reader is almost vanishingly small.
By Mozilla's own logic given in their bugtracker comments and 5% marketshare, Mozilla may as well not even exist and delete all the Firefox code.
They just want to push Pocket and other alternatives that they think they can monetize easier than free and open standards like RSS. This is blatantly against Mozilla's code.
It's time to find a new browser, and I've long been a fan of native browsers for their native optimizations that result in lower power usage. Considering I rarely have my computer even powered on without a browser open, Edge and Safari simply make more sense now that FF only has container support & a dedicated search bar to lure me in.
With Windows 10 Sets likely only to work properly with Edge, and Netflix only supporting 1080P & 4K in Edge, and being optimized for my system's best interests.. MS has more convincing features than Firefox. Firefox was always the (only) browser optimized for my personal best interests, through privacy & features.
Safari, same thing as Edge. Only way to get 1080P Netflix on macOS, supports all the Apple integration features like ApplePay payment support with TouchID, picture-in-picture support for Youtube, and better battery life.
It's a shame what Mozilla has become post-Brandon Eich. They're just chasing nonsense now with Pocket.
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16721690#16722005 "It's time to head back to RSS? (wired.com)"
KDE browser: https://www.falkon.org/about/
Maybe the model of subscribing to all your favorite blogs with a news reader didn't catch on, but RSS is still used a lot behind the scenes for other purposes.
10 years ago Firefox flagrantly disregarded the "standards" of the day set out by Microsoft and Adobe, and instead made their own vision of what they thought the web should be, even if it was obscure and "unpopular". And even if it never caught on, and Microsoft had dominated, Firefox (then Firebird) would STILL have been awesome.
They quietly introduced RSS support, because it was a good feature for the browser to have, regardless of how many people use it. That's how I first learned about RSS. I loved Firefox and thought it was awesome that they were giving me access to this new feature.
That was back when adding new features was considered progress, instead of what we have now.
This isn't quite true.
Firefox refused to do some things (explicitly violating some standards to fix some kinds of cosmetic issues, adding some APIs that seemed bad for users and the web). Firefox definitely did a bunch of other things to improve compat, including implementing various nonstandard IE6 features (XMLHttpRequest comes to mind!), matching IE6 rendering in various cases (see limited-quirks mode), etc, etc.
[Disclaimer: I was working on Firefox back then, and still am now; I've had to deal with a _lot_ of this firsthand.]
Of course if Mozilla back then were like it is today, they would have been begging for donations so that they could support Microsoft Janus or RealPlayer or whatever garbage they were trying to impose on users back then, all so that their browser could be a second class citizen in the DRM ecosystem. It was really nice while it lasted, to have an organization that stood in opposition and provided an alternative to the commercialization of web technologies.
Can you give a specific example?
I'm not saying this wasn't happening; I just can't recall a case where it really mattered much in the end, in the sense that the standard was being pushed by Microsoft _and_ wanted by web developers, but active Firefox opposition killed it.
Now Firefox certainly _has_ done some things like that (e.g. pushing back on NaCl), but mostly by offering alternatives, not pushing back with just a "no". Because just saying "no" doesn't actually work that well in practice...
I remember knowing you from UC and being surprised—I think when I saw your name in a changelog, perhaps—that someone I knew by chance was a part of the architecture of a project I loved (and love, albeit less passionately) so much. Thank you for your work!
Edit: Ok, I should reframe this. An anecdote or random sampling doesn't matter when Mozilla knows how much the feature was actually being used.
I think RSS is cool too, but that's not an argument for why browsers should integrate RSS feeds in their menu structures. Whether RSS is dead or not isn't an argument as to whether firefox's live bookmarks feature should continue existing. People don't use it, so it got pulled.
YES. Yes even if not a single person uses it. If it makes sense and might be useful, and especially if it is already there, then it should stay.
I haven't used POP3 in about a decade, and only used FTP a few times in ten years, but I would be miffed if they were deprecated. I want the option to use them if I must. That availability is itself a feature. And RSS is a hell of a lot more useful and common.
And I know that if they remove it that there almost certainly wasn't a sound technical reason for it, it was just someone being judgmental about what features should be available.
Or, what about a spare tire? Isn't it wasteful that our cars are burdened with carrying around all this extra weight in the trunk? How many time in your life have you actually needed to use a spare tire? I wouldn't be surprised to find out that <5% of drivers ever even touch the thing, and yet every car has one! In this day and age, you should just call a tow truck. Spare tires a relic of the time before cellphones.
By your logic, the only features that are worthwhile are popular features. Nearly everything starts out with 0 users. Why bother making anything? Should something get axed the moment it dips in popularity? I know that these days the answer of course is yes.
FYI, the only reason that companies like Apple and Google are so aggressive with feature culling and deprecation is to protect their platforms and help dominate the market. That is it. When OSS copies the decisions of for profit companies then that is just a cargo cult mentality.
What "audience"? Why are you using that nomenclature? This is not an entertainment product, nor is it for-profit software. So why do you care about building an audience and a brand? How about instead we make actually good software.
-- Tests for those features still run regularly
-- Increased download size
-- Increased runtime code memory usage (it's impossible to completely separate code pages for unused features from used features)
-- The code must be maintained as interfaces they depend on are refactored
-- Attackers will find exploitable bugs that harm users and must be fixed
There's one spare tire. If cars were carrying around spares of 10 different things, you bet people would be looking into cutting some of them out.
There is a real cost in terms of technical debt, complexity, ease of maintenance, etc to having more features. The question then always becomes whether the features are worth the cost.
By this argument, Pocket has to stay, and I hope that's at least not the universal sentiment. I want Mozilla to have a stripped-down core and be endlessly customiseable by add-ons; Mozilla themselves have drifted away from this vision, but I hope that their most passionate users won't!
> Or, what about a spare tire?
The argument isn't about whether you should have a spare tire, but whether the spare tire should come pre-installed by the manufacturer. You can buy another spare tire just like you can install an RSS add-on, or use a separate RSS reader.
It's not unused, but sure, keep repeating that to yourself. And yes, they should continue including it. What exactly do they gain by removing it?
There's a reason Feedly has millions of users and it's not because RSS is dead and nobody cares.
More developer resources?
With the standard you've setup, we'd remove almost every piece of technology around us. Our institutions and everything that consists of your way of life. Seriously. No one really studies liberal arts as a renaissance man anymore and knows about things around them, how they work, or how we got here.
There's a lot of things to be aware of today, if you want to be savvy and successful. People aren't even prepared to educate themselves, work a career or save for retirement. Of course they never bothered, once, to look into the features of the web browser.
I always try and always read or skim the manual, so to speak, because I've learned many things about even my iPhone that I kick myself for not finding out before that point. But that's not common for people to actively educate themselves.
RSS is amazing, and Mozilla certainly deserves to be labeled as Luddites for this.
How about just a simple feed that scrolls somewhere? Maybe even with transparency over a portion of your browser? Certainly would beat checking the Facebook feed. Those are just off the top of my head, if someone with half a spark of humanity within their mind sat down and worked on ways to advance free & open technologies, a lot could be done that hasn't been.
There's a lot to do, but Pocket should have nothing to do with it other than at most, being the name of possibly cloud storage for your RSS feeds that you want to read later. If they think they'll figure out a way to make Pocket some sort of killer feature and takeover Chrome's position in the market, I can't help but laugh.
Whether random folks know the technology is irrelevant. Ask 10 random people if they know what hyper text is, and you'll get bad answers. Doesn't mean people don't use or like it.
The shame here, is that Mozilla didn't push to get stuff like their homepage driven from RSS based feeds. They didn't get people using RSS, but they also didn't seem to try.
It's not like trying to explain what Google Wave is for; it's no more difficult than getting started on Twitter. It's really strange to me that it's still such a Here Be Dragons thing.
It’s not a mass market feature, but the market is serves has ripple effects. Because of that, though, the people using it are likely to prefer better, more robust tools rather than the neglected offerings built into the browser.
what I noticed as stabbing rss in the back was Google embracing and then eventually extinguishing Reader.
By that metric, Bitcoin is also dead.
There are multiple for-profit RSS reader services. I follow a really unreasonable number of webcomics, and I've seen one, ever, that didn't have an RSS feed. "Niche audience" is not the same as "dead".
(I've honestly never understood why people find RSS so confusing. You sign up to Feedly or whatever, and you choose creators you want to follow. It's not dramatically different than getting started on Twitter.)
The general idea was certainly sound. But as much as publishers offered it they were never comfortable (read: in favor of) so much of their contented being consimed without a visit, or at the very least without any analytics. Total feed subscribers just wasn't good enough.
The problem was always getting users on board with it. From inception the kind of person that would struggle to use RSS and lead to its eventual downfall was using webmail and thought their browser was the entire PC besides Solitare back in the early 2000s. For them, getting some arcane "where should we open this link" when you clicked a subscribe button with the RSS logo completely shut them down. I'm not sure if Firefox's "live bookmarks" ever worked intuitively.
Add on to that I'm not sure if IE or Safari ever supported RSS, had a reader, or anything of the ilk and it was DOA. The remotely informed user would have just used Google Reader, but there was no mechanism (and I don't think there even is one today?) to transparently feed RSS links into a webapp reader.
I know at at least one point Firefox was defaulting RSS to Google Reader, but I don't think IE or Safari ever did, and that was at least 60% of the browser market at the time not providing a usable experience for a syndication format. Thats how it ends up dead on arrival.
How would they communicate with each other about it then? These things don't expand in a vacuum. Perhaps not in a modern social media sense, but there is always a network effect.
Calling it RSS was too plain and too clinical.
Then, they killed it hoping to get everyone discussing things in a plus feed. Something I have no interest in. Especially because I can't really see the discussions in my email.
Which is ultimately what is killing things here. Many of us built up real workflows for correspondence using email. It works great for that. Instead of trying to help build on these correspondence workflows, companies would rather find ways of owning that correspondence, such that now I have to use Facebook or Google Plus or whatever in order to have basic back and forths with friends/family/strangers.
- Sender = publisher / source
- Subject = title + author
- Body = body
The same can be said for SMS.
Shifting the email client to a one-stop comms dashboard would make a lot of sense (to me). Add in drag & drop to a TODO list(s) and I'm more effective and happier.
Don't need unused folders in my mail directory trees.
So, I don’t agree that RSS is dead.
Given these cases, why would XML files be any different?
Why shouldn't browsers display at least the most common image, document and media types (including spreadsheets?) Why only display a few content-types but download all others? Content is the point of the web, after all.
RSS isn't used by people to make the main product of a browser better.
Why? Because their clients don't ask for them. RSS feeds are used for social media content sharing, but not for regular users.
Also, most blog content these days (for my clients) tends to be pretty canned stuff only used for SEO and content-bling to make some site look important.
I think sites that are serious about followers may use RSS, but not the majority of sites out there. Which leads us to why RSS support isn't needed anymore and can be relegated to an extension... popularity.
Perspective has nothing to do with it, implementing RSS/Atom is incredibly simple for most use cases when you build websites for a living...
Also, all of the sites I build have RSS built into them automatically because of the framework running them.
It's just that no one cares. RSS has never been requested by an end client (owner of the site) in any site I have built in almost 20 years.
But, when the social media and marketing people get involved, they used RSS as a way to share content with other 3rd party services.
RSS reader in Firefox as an extension is a perfect solution.
I understand getting rid of XUL legacy cruft, but removing the RSS renderer/reader entirely with no plan other than "extensions will fix it" just leaves a bad taste.
Mozilla has a finite budget to allocate to features. Maybe they looked at usage rates and decided that RSS just wasn't an important feature, or other features were more important.
It might not be a core functionality of a browser, but all major browser vendors now accept that browsers are also development tools.
Millions of businesses, 'knowledge workers' and infovores rely on RSS for their daily workflow and learning, without which they'll have no other reasonable alternative to stay updated with decisive information and insights for high-volume, high-frequency, low-noise Web content.
Starting from Google Reader's shutdown to Firefox's removal of RSS support, it's just that these consumer vendors have not been able to leverage its business use-cases. It's a feature for them that they couldn't monitize, because that requires a different tool-set, which is not their primary product.
RSS is a backbone, much like a simple API, but it was touted as a front-end enriched with ads, analytics, widgets etc., that didn't/can't work for the casual consumer.
RSS ecosystem is alive and healthy for it's vast and core audience, irrespective.
I have come to use emacs for everything, and I love being in emacs. It never occurred to me that I don't have to find an RSS reader -- just an emacs package.
Thank you for writing this comment.
People who use it every day know that it's not dead at all.
Firefox's decision will not make the slightest bit of difference for either group of people.
RSS is dead for the latter people but not the former.
If you ask me Mozilla didn't kill RSS, they just updated their browser to reflect a reality. The reality is that most people don't use RSS and don't care about it. Who killed RSS? Going to go out on a limb here and say Google. Anyone remember Google Reader? That thing was amazing - I remember the days I used to go through all my feeds in under 10 minutes. .I guess it did not really fit Google's business model or it wasn't big enough to worth investing in, but if you ask me it was the closest Google came to having a social network.
I used RSS 10 years ago.
Even bought a keyboard with a LCD to have my RSS headlines always available.
I have no need for that functionality for years.
I know noone in person who uses RSS anymore.
I would call it dead (but obviously as per other comments here, people still need/use them).
Woah, what keyboard was this?
Of course, there are alternatives, but still - the live bookmarks are really cool and extremely convenient to use. It's a shame they are going to be excised. At least that gives me an incentive to pick up the RSS aggregator I wrote a couple of years back and polish it a little.
Really disappointed in Mozilla. After all, it's quite obvious, if you don't modernize and even continue to hide a feature for years, its usage won't improve unless external events drive the demand.
And since RSS readers counter the interests of both ad- and subscription-driven media, it's unlikely there will be any demand generated by anyone else other than RSS aggregators themselves.
Social media, on the other hand, is an alternative solution to the consumption of information, not inherently a better form of aggregation.
It is mainly the addiction to social feedback that attracts people to social media, while RSS is a boring stream of data you've specifically decided to process.
Why do you need my address in order for me to view RSS feeds from somebody else?
What is exactly is sketchy? What is bad about a for-profit business?
>though they don't tell what you'll have to pay up-front
Where did you get that? You're registering for a free account. If you want to upgrade, you select a plan. All information of the features you would unlock are available upfront.
For one, it's not as accessible to all of Mozilla's users. Remember, their goal is to help the poor and the young as well as SV programmers.
Besides that, not necessarily anything — there are lots of great businesses out there — but it creates a greater possibility of mismatched incentives than something like Mozilla. My highest goal in a feed reader is to be able to keep up to date with feeds hassle-free. A for-profit business's highest goal is to make money. The best way for them to achieve their goal might be helping me achieve my goal as efficiently as possible, or it might not.
> Where did you get that? You're registering for a free account. If you want to upgrade, you select a plan. All information of the features you would unlock are available upfront.
Can you find for me the part on Feedly's front page where it tells you what all the limitations on a free account are, which are relieved by upgrading to a pro account? I can't find any place where it even lets you know there's more than one kind of account. For a couple of specific examples:
- It doesn't mention that there's a limit on subscriptions on a free account.
- Many of the integrations mentioned on the front page don't appear to be enabled for a free account (e.g. OneNote, EverNote, Slack).
What nonsense is this? How is a free account inaccessible, and how are Mozilla's(??) users specifically affected?
>(...) there are lots of great businesses out there — but it creates a greater possibility of mismatched incentives than something like Mozilla. (...) The best way for them to achieve their goal might be helping me achieve my goal as efficiently as possible, or it might not.
So, you don't have an argument against them. Just a bunch of maybes.
I don't like Feedly, so be my guest if you want to hate it. However, both services list all the features of every plan once you're in. A lot of per account or freemium services do that, it's nothing new.
Up front no BS business model of "you give us money, we track your rss feeds"
They are even open source too (MIT) .
I really want new users to be able to discover features like RSS/Atom feeds. Live bookmarks can definitely go to the grave in my mind, but I hope Mozilla will focus in the future on web features that help advocate the federated web.
Sadly many pages don't have a good page to browse threw or search podcast. In the RSS page you could do a page search and find all the relevant info.
However there are probably other ways to achieve the same thing, so I'm not really all that opposed.
That is easier for me than having Growl on my Mac, DBus notifications on Linux, or Windows Push Notification Service on Windows. Instead I can use one protocol, and the same app I've already installed, on each of those platforms.
Sounds like they're being pragmatic then by removing a not so popular feature that has the potential of adding maintenance complexity.
OTOH, the constantly-maintained-these-days Thunderbird supports RSS -just fine-.
I also have a nicely curated set of RSS searches from Nyaatorrents, craigslist, Kijiji and a few other sites that I check thru firefox.
Do sites pay you to be higher up the page?
bro not cool. I don't want your backend recommendation engine tracking what I'm doing.
(online or off)
(and, yes, I disabled it, as well rewired the pocket-relevant urls to example.com)
I really don't feel like having the debate as to whether its local or remote - both are quite compromiseable in terms of security.
I don't want to have this integration into my browser. I don't like Green Eggs and Ham, Sam I am. I do not want it this way or that, online or off. That is the goalpost I expect Mozilla to hit, based on their general vision.
If I want to have my browsing habits analyzed, I'd rather `cat` out the history file to a tool I wrote.
Mozilla being an entity historically predicated on better practices choosing to deal this way is highly unpleasant. And, on topic, RSS is a good open practice that should be kept. Mozilla's choice to axe RSS and keep Pocket seems to all be in the same vein.
The moment that thing is local your concerns are not valid anymore. If a local browsing habits file can be exploited your browsing habits could also be detected by other means. Like you yourself said, that is just included in your browsing history (stored anyway by default).
There is no point in expressing a dislike for a good solution when the thing they are doing does not at all conflict with their mission. Which is the thing with removing RSS support, but not with the site recommendation.
If your main concern - not wanting that your history is uploaded - is met by the great solution Mozilla seems to have found here, it would really be the right thing to accept that.
It doesn't spy on anyone and it's trivial to disable. Hard to do it better.
Google yourself how many times a disabled feature "accidentally" re-enabled(& tracked!) for providers' benefit. Throw Apple & Google un for the most nefarious "accidents". Or not... despite no proclamations of Moz employees posting (as of yesterday) this thread has the stink of astroturf.
I just want to set things straight. Bad mouthing Mozilla for something they have not done does not help discussing the decisions they take.
On tracking, well, you may always look the code. It's all client-side, I guess the most nefarious accident it could happen is you noticing the suggestion again and disabling it again.
Does anyone have Pocket usage numbers to measure its popularity? Web Dev tools? The Firefox Tour? Since we're already discussing stripping out features based on such a corporate metric...
I've personally stopped using it a few months ago after being a fan since before it was called Firefox (Mozilla browser? or something). The only things I miss are minor stuff like being able to color tabs (who knows, Firefox might have disabled that too since then).
Parsing XML is such a hassle? Laughable to think Firefox is so bloated that not rendering a styled DOM for an XML datatype saves them an hour of payroll or trims hardly a megabyte off their binary.
This is probably the least amount of complexity they could drop, and yet they bloat the fuck out of their application, with features I turn off, avoid or never use.
Pocket, Web RTC, those stupid cartoon images for their error messages. And so much more, worth so much less.
So there are at least three different RSS standards, most of which are under specified as to what is and isn't allowed. It's like the tag soup of XML.
Have you ever tried parsing RSS as produced in the real world? If you try to parse it with an actual XML parser, you are going to have a _very_ bad time.
Who sticks a feed of news stories in a drop-down menu?!
I've been using FF RSS for 16 years now, since Mozilla Firefox was Mozilla Phoenix. Never left the browser all these years, of course I tested other things out and kept native browsers (Safari/Edge) as backup browsers. But these features are what differentiate it from other browsers, there's no way there's substantial ongoing maintenance cost to RSS/Atom support at this point.
Shame on them, they know better than this. If they want to help advertisers, if they want a centralized web, if they want to remove the few reasons left for not just using Chrome, then it's a great idea.
As soon as I lose my RSS support, for the first time in 15 years (before which I was a Netscape Navigator user) I'll be looking for a new browser.
I see a lot of mentions about Foxish, I tried that with Chrome a few times, it's not very reliable. I didn't find it worked very well at all, updates erratically and so forth.
If all browsers are becoming the same, there's very little reason to not just take the performance-power savings of native browsers. So I'll likely just use Edge and Safari going forward. Browsers are the majority of what people use their computers for, so any resource savings that results in power usage reductions is welcome, especially on mobile. I'll take a good hard look at Brave as well, those folks are actually trying hard to upset the apple cart, instead of just removing features to upset someone.
But in general that's bad. Having feeds support in a browser is a good way to get more people to know about RSS. And the more people know about RSS the better for humanity.
People must know that there are another ways to get content than liking something in a silo. And more importantly - the medium is the message - content that you get in RSS feeds is different from social media. It's not oriented to be likeable or shareable or to make money in any way. It's more about ideas, opinions and utilitarian (not emotional) news. Yes, you could still get junk in RSS feed, but there are much less chances to get it.
The main barrier to entry isn't the lack of RSS, it's the fact that people don't read as much anymore. It's gotten to the point where if you submit anything text-based (as opposed to photos, video, podcasts, etc.) to a lot of subreddits the moderators flag it as spam.
Actually, there are even some subreddits which act like a RSS feed for some sites.
I guess it's not too bad.
Edit: actually it looks like they're removing the reader as well. Guess I'll have to find a extension. Shouldn't be too hard
Well, individuals shaped their experience by not using RSS.