Google Reader’s sunset is the dawn of ownCloud News

This post is dedicated to the memory of Aaron Swartz. Among all his contributions towards a more open Internet, Aaron was also one of the creator of RSS 1.0. Thanks, Aaron.

The first news of the day is that the fantastic ownCloud community has released ownCloud Server 5.0.0. Congratulations everyone!

The second news is that Google has decided to power down Google Reader. This is a sad news for the users of the Reader, but it’s a great opportunity for ownCloud! Google Reader will cease to exist on July 1st and their users are looking for alternatives. As you already know if you have been following this blog, in the last year I have been working on an RSS/Atom reader for ownCloud (News app). The project started as a Summer of Code project sponsored by Google itself. Actually, the original idea and most of the design choices were inspired by Google Reader. It couldn’t be otherwise, since I have been a user of that service myself for long time.

In the last August I released an alpha version of the News app, see my previous post. There has been lot of progress since. Bernhard Posselt (Raydiation) ported the app to the new ownCloud app framework and he joined me as co-maintainer of the app. Thanks to his work, the app works much better now, the user interface is faster and the code is more stable and more testable.
In the last KDEPIM sprint in Berlin, I started to write an API so that external clients can synchronize with the app. Many calls are still missing, but it’s a start. Frank Osterfeld is already using this API in an Akonadi resource that interacts with the app and that can be used by Akregator. His code is in the akregator_port branch of kdepim-runtime. If you want to use the resource, you need akregator2 from the akregator_port branch of kdepim.
I am also trying to put up a new GSoC project for a mobile app that interfaces with this API (if you are a student interested in this, please let me know).

The app was not stable enough to be shipped today with ownCloud 5 (yes, remember news number one: oC 5 released today!). We expect to release a stable version of it in less than two months (probably along with some ownCloud 5.X release). Once that will happen, I will write a post on how to migrate from Google Reader. Just to be clear, there is a big difference between ownCloud News and Google Reader. OwnCloud News is open-source (code is released under AGPL) and you can host it on your own server. And if you use KDE, you will be able to use Akregator off-line and still have all your feeds on the cloud. Google Reader will be shut down on July 1st. You will have to make a change anyway, why not making a real change!

We are developing the app in the master branch of the ownCloud apps repository on github. If you want to check the API, refer to the news_ext_api branch instead. We ask for help with testing, developing, documenting. If you have any questions, bug me (zimba12) or Raydiation on #owncloud-dev, Freenode. The more help we get, the earlier we will manage to ship the app.

Google Reader is dead. Long live ownCloud News!

oc_news_ss

61 thoughts on “Google Reader’s sunset is the dawn of ownCloud News

  1. Now THIS is the right answer – a self-hosted RSS web aggregator!

    Way to go.

    Unfortunately I’ve never been at all impressed with OwnCloud; it just doesn’t work very well. I hope your plugin/extension/wwhatever is better!

  2. jo man, looking good!
    as a noob kde user who knows nothing about ownCloud but likes open-source, does this mean I’ll be able to log into some website or through akregator and read my feeds (from multiple locations), or will it involve a technically much more complicated procedure?
    cheers,
    avituzzz

  3. I installed News app today after updating OC to new stable version in my raspberrypi and after receiving a mail from google about reader shutdown. I tryed this app a lot of months ago when it was announced. Now it’s absolutely way better. I already love it; sure, it lacks some feature, but seems already rock solid.

    A side note: the readme says to run ‘make deps’ inside coffee folder, but this command fails in raspbian:

    http://paste.chakra-project.org/4188/

    So I tried to compile it on my desktop, Chakra Linux, and then pushed all news folder to raspberry. It worked fine.

    Oh, some requests :P
    – option to list oldest news first
    – (this is hard) download complete article when a feed posts incomplete body.

    Thanks

  4. Nice to hear it. But I guess the killer feature would be if it would provide an (additional) which would be compatible to the Google reader api. There are so many apps supporting the Google Reader api out there. They would not need to change and so Owncloud cold attract many users.

  5. I’m using akregator for like 6 years or even more, I never used google reader. Akregator + owncloud + mobile app, damn, I’m really looking forward to this!

  6. I wonder: Would it be possible to add a Google-RSS-Reader-compatible API to ownCloud News? There are tons of apps out there using that API, so this would greatly facilitate doing the switch.

  7. So the reader is ready, but the app isn’t. I couldn’t find any hints about the reader in Owncloud main page (just your blog in the news). It’s part of the main distribution? I’m testing Owncloud in a virtual machine, but I’m using the Mint (Ubuntu? Debian?) package (don’t know the version), and that doesn’t have the reader.

    1. @Laerte: “app” and “reader” are the same thing. No, it’s not shipped in the main distribution of owncloud yet, but it’s going to be in the next release.

  8. For anyone looking for something like this that’s a bit more mature but not part of OC to use in the meantime:

    http://tt-rss.org/

    It has an API and a good Android app in the Market, I’ve been using it for a while. I’ll certainly migrate to OC News if it gets stabler and gets a mobile app, though!

  9. slowly but surely, Google is forcing me to drop their services. Thank you Owncloud for existing. This News app is one more big step for me away from Google.

  10. This rocks. Slowly but surely OwnCloud is maturing, and this is one feature that may finally bring me fully on board. Especially the mobile app part :-)

  11. I have installed OwnCloud no problems but could you give a hint as to how to install the current version of the News app? Thanks :)

  12. Is there a description of the API somewhere? I read news and blogs in gnus, but would be nice to sync read-marks to owncloud for when I’m on the go.

  13. I think the killer feature would be – as noted in some comments here – if News supported the Google-Reader-API. I am convinced most RSS-clients will allow to specify the syncing url so you can use them with any service that support this API. Wouldn’t it be great if ownCloud News was compatible with most of the famous RSS-Apps as Reeder on iOS? I think Marco Arment nailed it here: http://www.marco.org/2013/03/14/baby-steps-replacing-google-reader

    1. hi pheraph,
      Thanks for the link, great reading! Marco makes this point clear. After many comments asking for the same thing, I am thinking of doing this. At the moment I am discussing it with other people in ownCloud. One problem is that external API should be more or less uniform among ownCloud apps.

  14. Superb news.

    My first thought when I heard the news that Google were ending Reader (well my second thought, my first was unprintable) was that this would be a good thing to host on a small server at home (i.e. a Raspberry PI) to get it off the cloud, and was investigating how I could do this when I find that you are already on it :).

    I hope you can find a GSOC participant to take on the mobile app (Android flavor please :))

    Thanks.

  15. I am on the process of installing owncloud 5 on Chakra at the moment, when ill finish ill give it a try. What about its current and planned features? Some things that come in mind are save article offline, add article to your owncloud bookmarks, alternative views like grid, text only or web view?
    Greetings & thank you for your work Cosenal :)

  16. I’ve just installed it on my OC5 instance and testing it with my feeds from GReader. It’s working and it’s not bad at all.
    But my big interest is focused on an Android app and a widget for it, since my main usage was the GReader Widget on my tablet.
    Also, a function to share any article to social networks and email, is a must-have requirement for a rss reader, imho.

    Also during the migration I notice many websites use feedproxy.google.it as their rss engine, and I guess this will be phased out too… :-/

  17. I’ve just installed ownCloud 5 and the current “news” app. Unfortunately I cannot “make dep” in the coffee folder. Debian 6 doesn’t have node.js and I’m still researching my options. What do you use this for? Or more precisely: What won’t work without it?

  18. After reading your Article, I’ve started developing an Android Application but I can’t find a solution to communicate with your App. So what I’ve to do to access your api ?

  19. Hi,

    just paniced about google reader shutdown and found this.
    OC install just went fine in a couple of minutes, but I could not find how to install the reader app. I’m a user not a coder, so I ask, is it possible from within the admin interface somehow?

    Thanks
    Tom

  20. @cosenal, to answer your question regarding OwnCloud’s failings, I gave it a good try from 2011 through 2012 and let’s just say that one of my last posts (to the opendesktop.org registered forums that the application used at the time) was titled “1 Year, No Answers?”.

    Those posts have been destroyed, apparently (yay reliance on “the cloud” for long-term retention), but from what I remember there were some significant things missing or malfunctioning with the software. I think some were the complete lack of any real “cloud” resilience or failover instead of it being just another single-instance personal web server, the absence or failure of per-user permissions or sharing, the limited number of available file types, versioning, inoperable WebDAV, and stuff like that… Maybe it’s improved over the last year.

    My take at the time was it was getting a lot of mileage out of having “cloud” in its name while offering VERY little in the way of “cloud computing” advantages or features.

    Too bad, as I had had hoped it would fill a basic need as part of a self-hosted solution in place of commercial services like Google Docs/Apps/Whatever and DropBox et al.

  21. @cosenal: Only because you asked me above “@Brandon: more specifically, what doesn’t work well in ownCloud?” I was trying to answer you specifically with a list of multiple failings I had documented in the proper place (and which were never resolved). Anyway, good luck with the plugin!

    1. @Michael: yes, we evaluated that very careful before starting. I will not bother you with the details, but we basically realized that integrating tt-rss into owncloud would have been more painful than writing a reader from scratch. With newsblur it’s different, since it’s more than a plain rss reader, but it has all that training/intelligence that we didn’t want in our reader. Rather, in the beginning I got inspired by Lilina (http://getlilina.org/), which is in fact based on the library we use to parse the feed, that is SimplePie.

  22. Unless I’m missing something, the News folder is empty currently, so there’s nothing to install to try it out… :-(

  23. Hello, I tried to do this by copying and pasting the folder in my apps, but at the time of install will not let me. Reading the readme included in the. Zip encounter some steps you do not understand how to make them:

    – Clone the app into the App Framework ** / var / www directory ** ::

    git clone https://github.com/owncloud/appframework.git

    – Clone the News app into the ** / var / www directory ** ::

    git clone https://github.com/owncloud/news.git

    – Both Link into ownCloud’s apps folder ::

    ln-s / var / www / appframework / var / www / ownCloud / apps
    ln-s / var / www / news / var / www / ownCloud / apps

    – Activate the App Framework app first, then activate the News app in the Apps menu

    I have no access to those directories as it is a shared hosting.

  24. So one year has passed since this announcement, does anyone know, whether we will ever see the magical akregator 2 with sync support?

    1. Hi,
      The project started indeed from that idea, but with time, it has become more an independent project for a feed reader in the cloud rather than a KDE project.
      There has been a lot of interest for integrating mobile clients with the app, see https://github.com/owncloud/news/wiki/mobile-clients
      Alas, not the same excitement for what concerns desktop apps. Frank, the maintainer of akregator, started to write an akonadi resource one year ago at a KDE-PIM meeting, but after that, he hasn’t had any time to finish it up and I don’t have a date for when the akonadi/akregator support will be ready.
      If you want to chat about this, don’t hesitate to email me or buzz me on irc.

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