Tiny Tiny RSS – A replacement for Google Reader

So they finally did it, Google killed Reader, as the news broke on Wednesday evening the internet erupted in howls of anguish, how could they take away something so vital? Supposedly its death is due to declining usage and Google’s desire to focus on fewer products but many suspect it is simply another casualty in the drive to get everyone on to Google+. One thing is for sure, Reader users were passionate about the service, the outcry reached far and wide and an online petition to keep it running hit over 100,000 signatures in just a few days and currently stands at almost 122,000.

Personally, it has been one of my most used tools, something that I would use many times every day, a feed reader is by far the easiest and quickest way to keep up with the vast flow of news and information generated every day on the internet and is invaluable for keeping up with those blogs that only update sporadically. There are all sorts of reasons why killing Reader is a bad idea, Rupert Goodwins explains better than I ever could in this article on the Guardian website but the fact remains that come the 1st of July it will be no more so a replacement had to be found.

Reader’s dominance hasn’t left a lot of competition but there are still several similar services around, Newsblur, The Old Reader and Feedly to name just three, perhaps unsurprisingly the first two at least have been suffering from the load of all the new sign ups and were slow and unresponsive or completely broken when I tried them (I didn’t try Feedly) but I’m sure this will improve with time.

Another option is self hosting which is what I have decided on, there are at least three options here, Tiny Tiny RSS, Selfoss and Newsblur again. I went with Tiny Tiny RSS, it has some great features, a nice clean interface, active community and a decent Android app, running it myself also means I am in control and it isn’t going to go away all of a sudden.

Tiny Tiny RSS Features

  • Server-side application, user only needs a web browser
  • Supports RSS, RDF, Atom feeds using SimplePie
  • Easy setup and configuration
  • Streamlined interface using AJAX
  • Free software, licensed under GNU GPL
  • Authentication for reading protected feeds (e.g. LiveJournal friend-only posts)
  • Supports
    • feed aggregation,
    • keyboard shortcuts,
    • OPML import/export,
    • multiple and single user operation,
    • mobile devices,
    • internationalization,
    • detecting and filtering duplicate articles, podcasts,
    • article scoring,
    • content filtering,
    • JSON-based API,
    • feed sharing between instances,
    • and more
  • Integration into Desktop Software and Mobile Apps. See Related Software for more information
  • Official Android client

Here it is with a few tweaks:

Tiny Tiny RSS
Tiny Tiny RSS

Setting it up with Apache, PHP and MySQL was the work of only a few minutes and with a few tweaks I’m actually preferring it to Google Reader now.

To make it work a bit more like I was used to with Reader I use the following settings in preferences:

Automatically mark articles as read – No
Combined feed display – Yes
Confirm marking feed as read – No

and as I have a lot of feeds I set it in the main interface to hide read feeds.

I also made the following mod to make articles collapsible again by clicking on them:

in /js/viewfeed.js change:

if (id == getActiveArticleId() && Element.visible(elem))
return true;

to

if (id == getActiveArticleId() && Element.visible(elem)) {
Element.hide(elem);
Element.show(“CEXC-” + getActiveArticleId());
return;
}

I’ve also made some tweaks to the CSS (using the ‘Customise’ option in the preferences).

This moves the feed title to the left of the article title when viewing as a list:

div.cdmHeader span.hlFeed {
    float: left;
    max-width: 50px;
    overflow: hidden;
    margin-right: 10px;
    white-space: nowrap;
}

and the following to tweak some of the font sizes and colours more to my liking:

div.postReply div.postTitle {
overflow : hidden;
white-space : nowrap;
font-size : 18px;
font-weight : bold;
}

#headlines-wrap-inner {
padding : 0px;
margin : 0px;
border-width : 0px;
font-size : 13px;
}

a {
color : #0033CC;
text-decoration : none;
}

#headlines-frame {
padding : 0px;
border-color : #88b0f0;
border-left-width : 0px;
border-right-width : 0px;
margin-top : 0px;
border-top-width : 0px;
font-weight : bold;
}

.even.Selected, .even.Selected td {
background : #fff ! important;
border-width : 0px 0px 1px 0px;
border-style : solid;
border-color : #e7d796;
border-collapse : collapse;
font-size : 14px;
}

.odd.Selected, .odd.Selected td {
background : #fff ! important;
border-width : 0px 0px 1px 0px;
border-style : solid;
border-color : #e7d796;
border-collapse : collapse;
font-size : 14px;
}

If like me you used the RSS Subscription Extension for Google Chrome to add feeds to Reader then you just need to add a new entry and you can use it with tt-rss, in the options for the extension just add a new entry with the URL as http://SERVER/tt-rss/public.php?op=subscribe&feed_url=%s

All in all a brilliant piece of open source software.

3 thoughts on “Tiny Tiny RSS – A replacement for Google Reader

  1. did’nt work for me :/

    I also made the following mod to make articles collapsible again by clicking on them:

    in /js/viewfeed.js change:

    if (id == getActiveArticleId() && Element.visible(elem))
    return true;

    to

    if (id == getActiveArticleId() && Element.visible(elem)) {
    Element.hide(elem);
    Element.show(“CEXC-” + getActiveArticleId());
    return;
    }

  2. Yes, there have been a lot of changes in tt-rss since this post and a lot of the classes have been modified or had names changed, it’s moved on quite quickly with its new found popularity. There is now a built in way to collapse an article so I’ve been using that instead as that’s all I wanted.

    For anyone interested this is the css I am now using with the latest version: http://pastebin.com/BQ6K34fv

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