Google Reader’s demise and those you love

What feels like a long time ago, my wife introduced me to Bloglines, the RSS web service. It was before Google Reader existed. Yes, she was even more forward leaning than me. When Google Reader was released we both made the switch and she has been happy reading.

I left Google Reader a while ago for Fever, but when Google announced they were shutting the doors on Reader, I knew that she would be impacted.

Waiting for something to be released from the likes of Feedly or NetNewsWire or one of the many other people and companies that piped up in the wake of the announcement proclaiming that they had been working on an alternative, I started to look at solutions that I could host on my own. Like Fever, but free.

I found Tiny Tiny RSS, an open source, PHP and MySQL powered RSS reader.

In my initial installation, I must have done something wrong, because I couldn’t get the web application to connect to the database at all, errors all the way down. After learning that a good friend was using it and enjoying it, I decided to give it another shot. This time, no errors.

Things that I like about Tiny Tiny RSS:

  • It lives on hardware at a service provider that I pay.
  • It is very customizable, including filtering.
  • It should be easy to maintain.

Being browser-based isn’t an issue for Esther, she has been using Google Reader. The only issue will be on mobile. When I loaded the site on my iPhone, I was treated to a 404. Oh dear. After doing some research, it appears that the developers were working on a mobile version, but either didn’t finish it, or didn’t include it in the latest release.

After poking around the Tiny Tiny RSS wiki I found a mobile version that uses jQuery mobile. Not bad, but I wish that it was baked in. After configuring the jQuery mobile version, I modified index.php to:

if (!$_REQUEST['mobile']) {
if ($mobile->isTablet() && $pluginhost->get_plugin("digest")) {
header('Location: backend.php?op=digest');
exit;
} else if ($mobile->isMobile()) {
header('Location: mobile/index.html');
exit;
}
}

Specifically modifying the header result of $mobile->isMobile() to point to the new mobile index. The only other change was in the header to make the iOS icon precomposed to get rid of the gloss. After that, it is ready to go and I imported the Google Reader subscriptions that Esther exported for me.

All in all, I think it will be a viable alternative to Google.