feed reader

From IndieWeb

A feed reader (AKA RSS reader) is an application (local or on the web) that allows one-way subscribing to feeds (often limited to Atom & RSS) and presents them in an interface for reading, typically without any way to respond, in contrast to a social reader.

IndieWeb perspective

Main article: reader

Feed readers are useful for keeping up with people's posts wherever they post, especially their own site. To further the goal of empowering individuals to post (and read) on the indieweb, it makes sense to develop indieweb-design-centric feed readers which address the limitations with legacy feed readers.


  • reader for current work on integrated indieweb readers.
  • social reader for interactive readers that let you can respond to posts, e.g. using Micropub to your own site.


Title Description Type Hosted Open Source?
BazQux Reader web-based feed reader web-based yes no
Bloglovin web-based feed reader site web-based yes no
CommaFeed self-hosted RSS reader web-based yes yes

Evergreen open source for macOS desktop - yes
Feedbin paid, hosted + open source reader web-based yes yes
Feedbro desktop browser extension - -
FeedHQ Open source (Python) web-based yes yes
Feedly feed reader service web-based yes -
Feed on Feeds open source self-hosted feed reader web-based yes
FreshRSS Free feed reader web-base yes yes
Inoreader feed reader service web-based yes no
Miniflux web-based yes yes
NetNewsWire Standalone application for macOS and iOS native desktop/mobile application - yes
NewsBlur Web, iOS, and Android versions avail. Also supports email news as a feed. web-based yes yes
News Explorer macOS desktop - -
Nextcloud News web-based yes yes
Owncloud News app Open Source Owncloud application with a web frontend and an API web-based yes yes
owncloud news news_indieweb plugin for easier micropub interactions plugin - yes
PressForward WordPress plugin allowing an integrated feed reader on one's site web-based - yes
QuiteRSS Self-contained, open source, OS native feed reader. Linux, MacOS, Windows, OS/2, FreeBSD no yes
Reader Self web-based - yes
Reeder iOS and macOS mobile/desktop - -
selfoss Open source web RSS aggregator/reader web-based - yes
Substack Reader app & web-based feed reader site (Substack & RSS) web-based yes no
The Old Reader service with free and paid tiers web-based yes -
Tiny Tiny RSS Open Source with a web frontend and an API for external clients web-based - yes
FeedReader RSS client that works with web readers and local RSS feed files Linux-based no yes
  • ... other feed reader examples that community members have used (or are using)

Software Examples

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook has a feed reading feature to read feeds similar to email lists:

Screenshot of Microsoft Outlook application displaying a three column user interface of folders, list of messages, and a specific message


  • 2018-03-26 Digg Reader shut down
  • 2018-01-03 AOL Reader shut down
  • 2018-2019 Hosted version of FeedHQ no longer allows renewals or new sign ups
  • 2017-12-15 Minimal Reader shut down
  • 2016-12-24 fever shut down
  • 2013-07-01 Google Reader shut down
  • 2012 Apple Safari and Mail apps dropped RSS reader features: Apple quietly removed RSS support from OSX Mountain Lion's Safari and Mail per 2012-08-01 Apple joins the war on RSS


Fails to aggregate if not open

Feed readers (e.g. Google Reader) often resemble an email program. In fact Mozilla Thunderbird has feed subscription capabilities built in.

Email servers receive and collect your email for you regardless of whether you open your email program or not, whereas legacy desktop feed readers on the other hand typically DO NOT collect/accumulate posts from feeds you're subscribed to while you're not using them โ€” this is not the case for hosted services, or native apps which sync with them.

Lack of publishing integration

Standalone feed-readers have for the most part been superseded by the much nicer overall UX of integrated read/post UIs as exemplified by Facebook and Twitter, where you can read, publish, comment, repost, like, RSVP and so on in one place โ€” more and more users have switched to using these silos as their "aggregator" instead of aggregators that actually pull in content from around the web. This trend was one of the motivations behind the deliberate development of POSSE as a way for indieweb sites to stay in touch with their friends/users/readers that prefer to use silos as their primary aggregrator.

There was a proposed RFC (4685) "Atom Threading Extensions" that went unimplemented. However it introduced an "in-reply-to" element which was latter adopted as the simpler rel-in-reply-to for HTML. See in-reply-to for details.

The defunkt Google Reader had a way of "starring" posts, which then showed up in their own feed, but this interaction was local to the reading interface rather than pushed out to the original content.

On the indieweb, replying is done by creating a reply post on your own site that links (with rel-in-reply-to) to the permalink of the post you're replying to, and then sending a webmention to the post's webmention endpoint.

Contra: tt-rss-micropub provides a reply interface with the Tiny Tiny RSS feed reader.

Inbox focus

Whereas many social medias focuses on a continuous content stream, feed readers are instead often designed around an inbox, with unread counts and sometimes even sub-folders. The focus of such an interface is to read it all, whereas the focus of the continuous content streams of social medias is on getting a good snapshot of the moment.

As continuous content streams isn't concerned with an unread count or with giving a good overview of of the content left in the inbox they can provide a simpler interface where content can often be displayed fully inline in one large, infinitely scrolling list.

The inbox focus of many feed readers also means that they are often more concerned with what content they have received from whom rather than why they have received that particular content. The continuous content streams of eg. Twitter and Facebook on the other hand also makes it very clear of why you have received a piece of content โ€“ if it's because eg. someone liked it, reposted it or simply created it themselves.

Post Google Reader Readers

Since Google Reader shut down, a number of independent projects have taken off. They primarily reproduce the Google Reader experience and a few are experimenting with new feed reader concepts. Because Google Reader was a hosted service, most of these projects are offered as paid, hosted services and promote this as a sustainable model for development and maintenance. If you use any of these post Google Reader readers, please document your experiences.

Other Aggregators

There are different opinions on "what is an aggregator", feed reader, site with public URLs copying content from elsewhere (like a planet), etc. Dumping these here because they were in business-models but none of them actually make money from aggregating:

Aggregators are a way to read (sometimes disparate) content in a single place. Aggregators can be silos, or can be open.

Aside from just distributing content, aggregators can compete on things like speed, user experience, etc.

From most indieweb-web friendly/encouraging to least:

Pure aggregators (no primary content, all content and comments are aggregated from around the web)

Content aggregators (aggregate content from around the web, primary hosting of comments only)

Hybrid aggregators (aggregate content from around the web as well as primary content posts hosted on their silo)

Silo aggregators (aggregate only posts in their own silo)

See Also