08 August 2013 Web

Goodbye, Reeder. Hello, MnmlRdr + Fluid.

Google Reader is no more, which has opened up the feed reader app scene to new ideas and business models. With the plethora of new feed readers out there, I won’t get into a comparison of the different products on offer. After all, it has only been a month since Google Reader was shuttered. I’m sure the landscape will shift significantly over the next few months as smaller companies and independent developers vie for a slice of Google Reader’s former userbase.

I like my feed reader to behave like an email client – running in the background, collecting articles so I can read when it’s convenient for me. Up until recently, I had been using Reeder, but the app’s author has neglected to update it to work without Google and frankly, I’m tired of waiting.

While searching for a Reeder replacement, I soon noticed two things: one, most of the new crop of feed readers are web-based. Two, the Mac apps on offer typically don’t support Snow Leopard.

I ended up settling in with MnmlRdr, a no-nonsense web-based feed reader being developed by Jordan Sherer. By eliminating superfluous features like social sharing, MnmlRdr has carved out a nice niche for itself in the flurry of Google Reader alternatives to come out in the last month. Its responsive design feels comfortable on my old Blackberry for on-the-go reading, which is a major perk. I’ve emailed the developer a couple times with bugs and feature suggestions, and he’s always quick to respond.

Since MnmlRdr is in a private preview right now, Here’s a quick screencast to show what the user experience is like:

You’ll notice that I have MnmlRdr running as a separate app on my computer. I used Fluid to make that happen, and it works beautifully. After a couple tweaks, MnmlRdr feels comfortably at home on my desktop.

Tweak #1: the icon

MnmlRdr’s boxy logo looks great on the website, but it’s a little imposing when nestled among my other dock items. So, I created an alternative logo.

To use this icon for the Fluid app icon, save the image and go to Preferences > General. Click the Change... button next to Application icon to update the icon.

Here you go:

Tweak #2: the badge

If you purchase the paid version of Fluid, you can add userscripts to your apps. this lets you do neat things like have a badge showing the number of unread articles. Here’s how.

Go to Window > Userscripts, and click the plus sign in the bottom left corner. Change the pattern from *example.com* to *mnmlrdr*.

In the script field, copy and paste the following code. This will check the page’s title bar every 5 seconds to see what the unread count is, then display it as a badge on the app icon.

window.fluid.dockBadge = '';
function updateDockBadge() {
    var title = document.title;
    var regex = /\((\d+)\)\s/;
    var res = title.match(regex);
    if (res.length > 1) {
        var newBadge = res[1];
        window.fluid.dockBadge = newBadge;
    }
    else {
        regex = /MnmlRdr/;
        if(regex.test(title)){
            window.fluid.dockBadge = '';
        }
    }
}
setInterval(updateDockBadge, 5000);

So, that’s my setup. If you subscribe to RSS feeds, how have you adapted to a post-Google Reader world?

Sam Nabi

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