An alternative RSS resolution

Another RSS view

I agree with everything Bojan has written about the “market” for RSS. It’s not a dead technology, and provides a great medium for accessing online writing without the “noise” of social media.

The solution he’s landed on is different from mine though, so I thought it might be good to share the slightly different path that I have taken.

The self-hosted solution

I also looked around when the Google Reader announcement was made, and considered services like Feedly. In the end though I decided to go for Fever, which is a self-hosted solution.

The first thing that drew me to Fever was the lack of a subscription. I’ve been freeloading on Google Reader for a while now and it felt painful to move to a model where I’d be shelling out every month. Fever charges a one-off fee of $30, which gives you the software and a single-user licence.

The self-hosted solution isn’t for everyone; it proved economical for me because I already pay for hosting for my blog. All I did was drop the Fever installation into a domain I wasn’t using (I think you can put it alongside WordPress installations if you only have 1 domain, but I didn’t fancy taking the chance) and it was up and running.

Des Paroz wrote a great article on how to get started with fever, with a guest contribution by yours truly – I recommend checking it out if you’re curious about the process. I’m not particularly technical, so I would say it shouldn’t be too difficult for anyone bar the total novice.

My main concern then, and my concern still, is the lack of development it’s currently getting. The developer, Shaun Inman, has stated that Fever is not a priority project for him so there’s a strong chance that while the subscription services will evolve and improve, Fever will stagnate and seem increasingly basic. I’m hoping that Shaun will at some point return to develop Fever, or sell it to someone who will. I’m stunned that he doesn’t see it as an opportunity right now as to me it seems ripe for taking a healthy slice of the market, but I’m sure he has his reasons.

So why not Feedly? David Sparks covered this in the Mac Power Users RSS episode, but essentially my reservation is that I’m not clear what’s in it for Feedly. I sort of understood and was comfortable with what I was sellling to Google in exchange for RSS, but with Feedly I’m just not sure. I also found the web interface too clunky and when I was looking at it there weren’t a great number of iOS options supporting it either.

Ultimately I felt most comfortable bringing my data – the feeds I choose and my reading habits – more closely under my control without needing to worry about how and why it was being used. I was able to do it for a one-off cost of $30 (plus the $5 I paid for the Sunstroke iOS Fever client ). The trade-off is that RSS is likely to get better and better for subscription users, where my choice leaves me (for now at least) in feature limbo.

Finally, a confession: I haven’t even tried the subscription services like Feed Wrangler or Feedbin, so I might be missing out on something truly awesome. But I’m really happy with how Fever & Sunstroke are working for me so for the time being at least, that’s what I’m sticking with.