Google Reader Replacement

I started using Google Reader ever since I started surfing blogosphere many years ago. Now that a long-favored RSS reader is being shut down. Question is which service should I switch to?

I’ve tried other RSS reader apps like Feedly, The Old Reader, NetVives, Pulse, etc. After spending good amount of time evaluating each app, I found myself liking none of them.

It seems current trend amongst feed aggregation apps is either being good old, meaning app is really a RSS reader but nothing more, or being picture-heavy magazine style like Flipboard. I totally understand why people are leaving so many comments on this blog post from Digg because they are also looking for a replacement. And, I’m one of those refugees too.

This was the moment I realized that maybe I should create one for myself. A feed aggregation app that just works for me. Good news is building a RSS reader itself isn’t that difficult, and necessary components are already available as open source or provided by cloud computing companies.

For instance, building search engine was a bit tough work back in 2007, the year Google Reader was officially released. Thanks to Amazon CloudSearch, with this service available at my hand I can outsource the entire search engine to AWS and forget about scalability and maintenance issues. This allows me to focus on building features that make the app standout from the crowd.

Nowadays a difficult part is deciding what to do with the app, not how you are going build it. Below is a tentative list of what I’m going to do with the app.

  • Manage feeds from both social network and RSS.
  • Search by keyword in my feeds as well as feeds subscribed by other people.
  • Minimalistic design. No magazine style.
  • Mobile app with offline cache.
  • Fast response.

And, here is a quick wireframe for prototype. I wanted UI to look like Google Reader so that people like myself don’t have to go through a whole learning process again.

diagram

A challenging part is universal search. As I mentioned above, a search engine itself can be outsourced, but getting desired results from various data sources still requires a fair amount of engineering work. In particular, I would like to search for a specific keyword from three data sources: feeds from my social network, RSS feeds subscribed by me, and RSS feeds subscribed by other users.

If everything goes well, I might be able to release first prototype in a short period of time. If I do, I will post it at this blog website.