Monday, May 6, 2013

CommaFeed: Minimalist Google Reader Replacement

The date of Google Reader’s closure is on the horizon, but there is still plenty of time left to find a replacement. While a large number of users have already left for greener pastures, I intend to cling to the sinking ship until the very last moment, not because I want to, but because I’m forced to. I’m still waiting for the perfect Google Reader replacement, and one reader app that I see a good amount of potential is CommaFeed.

CommaFeed is an extremely light weight feed reader app that you can consider if you are looking for a minimalist reader without too many frills, but with features that makes you not miss the functionality offered by Google Reader. No fancy magazine styles, thumbnails and Pinterest-like boards. Just you and the feeds.

CommaFeed allows users to sign-in with their existing Google account and automatically import their Google Reader subscription, retaining all feeds and folders.

commfeed

commfeed2

What I like about CommaFeed

  • The app is very fast. It loads in an instant with no lag, whatsoever, even with large number of feeds and lots of images. For me, this is an important factor, because a lot of feed reader apps that I have encountered are painfully slow to the point of being totally useless. I’m looking at you, Feedly.
  • Similarly, search is extremely fast, though it sometimes returns unrelated results.
  • Makes full use of the screen, left to right, top to bottom. You see no logos, no banners at the top, nothing. Just the feeds. However, this could change in future, if the developers decide to introduce branding or advertisement to generate revenues.
  • Retains nearly all the shortcuts you are so accustomed to with Google Readers such as j/k to open next or previous item, n/p to scroll the feed list, o to open or close the highlighted item, v to open original link, s to star an item etc.
  • Ability to add custom CSS styles. This enables you to change the font size, color, background etc.
  • Social sharing features are available. You can quickly share stories on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or email a story to your contacts.
  • It’s open source and available on GitHub, so you can fork it to create your own feed reader with your own enhancements, or deploy it on your own server.

What I don’t like about CommaFeed

  • There is only one view mode. All items are displayed collapsed and you have to click on the title (or use the keyboard shortcut “o”) to expand it. While I’m no fan of different fancy layouts, I do miss the expanded view where you can scroll through the feeds and it automatically marks them as read. I hope the developers consider adding this option in future.

There you see, except for the very limited display mode, I’ve got nothing to say against CommaFeed. It’s a very good application, one that I will definitely keep my eyes on.

5 comments:

  1. Hey I'm the author of CommaFeed. Thanks for the article!

    "Expanded" view is coming very soon, I'm working on it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's a very, very nice replacement for GReader ! Simple and fast, brilliant. Just missing Pocket/Instapaper support - add this, and I wont miss GReader at all ;o)

    Btw - is there a shortcut for marking all as read ? shift + A doesnt work.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are right, shift+A doesn't seem to work. I will ask the developer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shortcut "Shift+A" will be added in the next update. The code is already done.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Support for Pocket and Instapaper as well as the shift+a shortcut have been added!

    ReplyDelete

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