On Changing RSS Services

Ben Ubois, founder of Feedbin, writing about the service’s newest feature:

You can now receive email newsletters in Feedbin.

To use this feature, go to the settings page and find your secret Feedbin email address. Use this email address whenever you sign up for an email newsletter. Anything sent to it will show up as a feed in Feedbin, grouped by sender.

There’s been a recent trend of tech-focused weblogs publishing email newsletters with exclusive content. I’ve signed up for a few of them, but I don’t really read any of them. The problem is that my email app isn’t the environment where I want to read that type of long-form prose.

When I open Airmail (my new email client of choice), I just want to check for important messages, take action where necessary, and move on. I certainly don’t want to read a couple thousand words on the newest app release. I do want to read about it, but not in my email app.

And that’s why this new Feedbin feature is brilliant. It helps keep your email inbox clean and puts the well-crafted newsletters in an app that’s better suited for that type of text. And it’s also the sort of feature that has me thinking about switching.

My current RSS backend is a self-hosted installation of Fever, which I’ve been using for six or seven years. It works well enough, but it’s become painfully obvious that it isn’t going to be supported for much longer. The last update was released in September 2014 to add support for the latest iPhones’ screen size alongside a few bug fixes.

I still love Fever — its “Hot” category, which displays popular links based on how many of the feeds you follow have pointed to it, remains as one of my favorite RSS features of all time. But the truth is, I don’t interact directly with Fever much anymore. The vast majority of my time reading RSS feeds is from my iOS devices where Reeder is my app of choice. The only time I use Fever directly is when I’m on my Mac — which is a becoming a rarity — or when I’m subscribing to a new feed using Fever’s bookmarklet.

There isn’t much compelling me to use Fever anymore. I like the idea of self-hosting, but not if the software isn’t actively maintained. I like Fever’s Hot category, but rarely use it because of Reeder’s shoddy support for the feature. And other services offer modern user interfaces and newer, more advanced features — like support for email newsletters — that are beginning to pique my interest.

I don’t know if email newsletter support is the feature that will push me to sign up for Feedbin, but there’s definitely a chink in Fever’s armor. The software has fallen behind its competitors and the rise of native RSS client apps has obfuscated the web-based backend almost entirely.

Given that Reeder supports both Fever and Feedbin, I don’t even need to get used to a new user interface. Once I sign up for an account, upload my OPML file, and login on Reeder, I can continue on business as usual. I suppose the only place for me to go from here is to take a look at Feedbin’s other unique features to see if it’s actually worth making the switch.