Rolling a Google Reader Replacement with Yahoo! Pipes, Readability, & IFTTT
Google shocked the Internet (or perhaps didn’t, those of us who were diehard RSS users kinda realized that there was a thinning in our ranks as people flocked to Facebook and Twitter as “feeds”) by announcing the impending death of Google Reader on July 1. I, like many others, am a bit annoyed by this. Fortunately I have a new solution that I figured I’d share, for those of you who can’t find a good mobile-friendly plug-in-abile RSS feed solution. In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve done.
- Downloaded all of my feeds in XML / OPML format from Google Reader
- Created a Yahoo! Pipe with the feeds that I read. This creates a “Super” RSS feed.
- Used IFTTT to plug that feed into Readability, an offline reading service. (I could have also used Pocket, however I already use Pocket for other purposes, so Readability seemed a good choice)
Here’s how to do this, step-by-step
Download Your Data
Log into Google Reader and go into Reader settings (It’s in the menu in the upper right). Click on the “Import/Export” tab and use the “Download your data through Takeout” option.
This will create a ZIP file which you can then download from the Google Takeout service. Unzipping that file, you’ll find an XML file named “subscriptions.xml”
Opening this file in a Text editor will show the XML code. Reading it carefully you’ll find your RSS feed URLs that point to the RSS feeds you were formerly reading in Reader. Go through and find the ones you still want to read (this might also be a good time to clean feed house!) and make up a list.
Create a Super Feed
Go to Yahoo! Pipes and log in using that old Yahoo! account you have (or I guess any other way Yahoo allows). Click on the Create New Pipe button at the top and begin dragging “Fetch Feed” items onto the workplace. Then use the “Union” item to bind them together. I also throw a “Truncate” at the end to limit to 20 items for tidiness.
Once you have the feed ready, click “Save” and give it a name. Then grab the RSS link for the feed by clicking on the RSS button on the feed’s homepage
A few people have made some great comments that should be considered (Both by Paul, perhaps different or the same Paul?).
You know that little + URL text on the Fetch Feed object. Click that and add multiple feeds in one object. Much less complicated than using multple Unions
– Great point, multiple Unions can get you in trouble, and using the built-in + button seems to be just as snappy as other modules.
Other (or same) Paul notes:
“Without a Sort module your pipe will take the first 20 items from your feeds beginning with all the items from the feed connected to the leftmost connector of the first Union module, then the next most leftmost module and so on. So if your first feed always contains 20 items then you might as well do away with all the other feeds.”
A Sort is also useful to make sure that you get the order you want, oldest to newest or newest to oldest! Just sort on item.PubDate.
Thanks for the comments!
Pipe that single RSS feed wherever you want (i.e. Readability, Pocket, etc…)
Now you can use IFTTT to pipe that RSS feed wherever you’d like, providing a fairly flexible way to get your feeds into either an offline reader, email account, or whatever. Like I said earlier, I piped mine into Readability, so that I can install the Readability apps on my devices and catch up on feeds wherever I go. This also has the benefit of downloading the full items, so no more “teaser” RSS items!
I realize my solution is a bit clunky, and other alternatives are out there. But for a power user who wants to slice and dice and have their feeds exactly where they want (and wants to use established tools to do so), this is one way to go.