UPD: We have received a number of proposals that we are discussing right now. Chances are high that public The Old Reader will live after all
Since we launched first public version almost a year ago up until March 2013 we have been working on The Old Reader in “normal” mode. In March things became “nightmare”, but we kept working hard and got things done. First, we were out of evenings, then out of weekends and holidays, and then The Old Reader was the only thing left besides our jobs. Last week difficulty level was changed to “hell” in every possible aspect we could imagine, we have been sleep deprived for 10 days and this impacts us way too much. We have to look back.
The truth is, during last 5 months we have had no work life balance at all. The “life” variable was out of equation: you can limit hours, make up rules on time management, but this isn’t going to work if you’re running a project for hundreds of thousands of people. Let me tell you why: it tears us to bits if something is not working right, and we are doing everything we can to fix that. We can’t ignore an error message, a broken RAID array, or unanswered email. I personally spent my own first wedding anniversary fixing the migration last Sunday. Talk about “laid back” attitude now. And I won’t even start describing enormous sentimental attachment to The Old Reader that we have.
We would really like to switch the difficulty level back to “normal”. Not to be dreaded of a vacation. Do something else besides The Old Reader. Stop neglecting ourselves. Think of other projects. Get less distant from families and loved ones. The last part it’s the worst: when you are with your family, you can’t fall out of dialogues, nodding, smiling and responding something irrelevant while thinking of refactoring the backend, checking Graphite dashboard, glancing onto a Skype chat and replying on Twitter. You really need to be there, you need to be completely involved. We want to have this experience again.
That’s why The Old Reader has to change. We have closed user registration, and we plan to shut the public site down in two weeks. We started working on this project for ourselves and our friends, and we use The Old Reader on a daily basis, so we will launch a separate private site that will keep running. It will have faster refresh rate, more posts per feed, and properly working full-text search — we are sure that we can provide all this at a smaller scale without that much drama, just like we were doing before March.
The private site?
Accounts will be migrated to the private site automatically. We will whitelist everybody we know personally, along with all active accounts that were registered before March 13, 2013. And of course, we will migrate all our awesome supporters and people who donated to keep the project running (if you sent us bitcoins, please get in touch to get identified). Later this week your account will get a distinct indication whether it will be migrated to the private site or not. If you see that message and believe that it’s wrong, or if all your friends are getting migrated and you are left behind — please, drop us a line.
Give me my data!
You will have two weeks to export your OPML file regardless of our decision. OPML export link is located at the bottom of the Settings page — use the top-right menu to get there. All posts that you saved for later by using Pocket integration will obviously remain in your Pocket account.
But you could…
For those who would like to start the usual “VC, funding, mentor” or “charge for the damn thing” mantras — please, spare it. We’re not in the Valley where it might be super-easy, and, after all, not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. We just love making a good RSS reader.
We really want The Old Reader to be a big and successful project, with usable free accounts. But this is not possible to achieve with what we have, so unless someone resourceful takes over the project and brings it to the next level, it is not gonna happen. We had over 2 000 new registrations after the blackout last week. This is amazing and sad at the same time.
If anyone is interested in acquiring The Old Reader and making it better, we are very open and accepting proposals at email@example.com. We would be waiting for them for two weeks, supporting and maintaining The Old Reader as usual. Please don’t write us if you don’t have resources to maintain a site used by tens of thousands of people every day, or if you don’t know how you would improve The Old Reader. And please spare our time if you just want to buy the domain name and park a bunch of silly ads there — it’s not going to happen.
We value our community very much, and we will either pass the project to somebody who we know is going to take a good care of it, or we will switch it to private mode.
From one point of view, it’s not a big deal: “RSS is obsolete”, nobody died, we don’t owe anybody anything, you name it. Also, there are a lot of good readers around to choose from, a large part of them is smaller than The Old Reader and had not experienced growing pains of 80 000 daily active users in no time. But for us, it’s heartbreaking.
I will finally get back to work on my small studio — Bespoke Pixel — which has been run by my awesome partner all this time. Dmitry will keep being bright young software developer, making scalable and beautiful projects. Our team will stay together, and will keep working on making the private version of The Old Reader awesome.
We feel great responsibility for the project. We’d rather provide a smooth and awesome experience for 10 000 users than a crappy one for 420 000.
Sorry, each and everyone if we failed you. You are an incredible, supportive and helpful community. The best we could possibly hope for.
All the love, Elena Bulygina and Dmitry Krasnoukhov
On Saturday (July 20) we moved over a terabyte of data from one storage system to another. We made the move because the amount of data we have to store simply did not fit on our servers, and our preliminary tests showed that the new system will only be using about ⅓ of the disk space.
Migration went through fine, however we started seeing a higher I/O load after we finished, and suddenly one SSD drive in one of our database servers stopped working. Not a big deal, we thought — we obviously store data in mirrored mode on several servers — so we asked our hosting provider to swap the drive. We had to re-sync the data to the new disk, so you might have noticed the site being flacky.
However while data was syncing, another SSD drive went down in a different server. We got it replaced, and started syncing two database shards at the same time. At this point we lost 2 more drives, one of which unfortunately was on the server in one of the shards that were repairing.
While you can fly a plane with an engine off, unfortunately when all your engines stop your flight is over. Right now we have to restore our last pre-migration full database backup, and apply incremental updates to bring database to a fresh and (hopefully) consistent state.
Here comes the worst news - this will probably take a day or two.
Sorry about that.
This is a tough and incredibly stressful situation, but it looks like we have no other choice. We understand your frustration (actually, we are in the same boat: we are RSS junkies and built The Old Reader for ourselves and friends) and we are doing everything to make it as fast and painless as possible and live happily ever after.
After that, we will deploy bug fixes along with new things and improvements we have already developed. During last year we adapted and successfully expanded first from 2000 to 5000 users practically overnight, then from 10 000 to 160 000 in several weeks and from 200 000 to 400 000 in four months, so we are considering this as a new level-up for the project (although bumpy and painful one).
It’s 5 AM right now and backup restoration has already begun. We are monitoring and working on The Old Reader nearly 24 hours a day. We will keep frequent (but not annoying updates) in Twitter and will answer all your questions.
We deeply apologize for what has happened but we intend to come back in a much better way.
Thank you very much for your patience, support and understanding,
The Old Reader team.
July 25, 21:07 UTC
Back online! We hope this outage lasting July 25 19:12 UTC
If everything goes as planned, we should be back in 4-5 hours.
July 25 15:50 UTC
Import — check;
Indexes — check;
Balancing data between shards and configuring replicasets — in progress.
July 25 08:45 UTC
It looks like we have managed to upload the data. If indexes get generated correctly, we might be back online later today.
July 25 2:00 UTC
Continuing the upload, hoping it goes as planned, counting hours.
July 24 14:00 UTC
Proceeding with restore. More details hopefully in the evening.
July 23 18:00 UTC
We have managed to create a consistent dump of our database and started uploading it to the database servers.
Also, check out the Toggle Sidebar bookmarklet by Chas J. Owens. We love how our apps page is growing and are looking forward to see the first Windows Phone application join the club.
And good news everyone: the Paypal button on our Donate page is back. Thank you all for your support and incredible patience. Again, a friendly reminder: if you are on a tight budget, don’t send us anything.
Maintenance alert: The Old Reader will be unavailable for some time this Saturday. We will be migrating to a different storage system that will allow us to have much, much more data on the same number of servers. This means that we will be able to increase the number of posts we store for each feed, and make the inactivity period longer, which has been voted the most wanted feature by you, our users.
We will start working at 18:00 UTC, and we expect this maintenance to take about 6-8 hours (data, data everywhere). We have chosen the time with the lowest traffic to affect as few of you as possible. Please enjoy this Saturday break; your RSS feeds will be waiting for you on Sunday morning.
Spoilers! If everything goes as planned, we will be deploying lots of fixes and some new features shortly. See you next week!
Last week we launched API that has been very well accepted. We’ve got lots of feedback, but more importantly there already are two wonderful apps supporting The Old Reader: gReader for Android and Feeddler for iOS. For those who are into open source and Linux, feel free to check out Liferea. And the good news is: there are several more to come (can’t wait to share them with you). We now have a separate page listing all apps, extensions and related stuff. This week we were busy adjusting our infrastructure, fixing some bugs, and tweaking API so that more mobile apps could join the gang.
The first post-Google-Reader week has almost finished. We had been both afraid and excited about it, but it turned out not that bad. Let’s check our favorite graph of registered users:
The first graph covers time period from March until May and should give you a picture of what The Old Reader was before, and how we had to grow to handle the first wave of soon to be Google Reader refugees. The second one is relatively recent, from May till July 5 where you can see things heating up, but still not nearly half as much as in March.
Today we had our first major outage that can be perfectly described by infamous Murphy’s law: “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. Because we use this amazingly cheap but somewhat unreliable hosting provider, we had some issues with our database servers. Unfortunately, it happened at 3 am (or at 5 am for another half of the team). Usually we are always oncall and keep an eye on The Old Reader for ~20 hours a day, but this fell precisely into our blind spot.
We have set up some additional notifications, so hopefully we will be alerted immediately if something like this happens again. Because sleeping is definitely overrated and reading RSS is not. Sorry about what happened today. We will do better.
Next, community management time! Some of your comments and suggestions can be answered in a collective way:
1. Charge for the damn thing! / What is your business model? We are currently community-funded. You can support us using Flattr or Bitcoins. Most likely, we will bring back the PayPal button next week.
As for the future business model: we decided to go with freemium, and we are sticking to that. It’s a task of two parts: first, there are legal and administrative issues. In terms of these, we are probably that anecdotal deaf, three legged, one-eyed, and half-paralyzed dog called Lucky, but it looks like everything is nearly done. Second part is actually coding premium features and integrating with payment processing. We are still to do that.
We aim the site to be completely usable for free users, and we want paid users to get an even better experience (later improved to super awesome experience). We are gradually getting there.
2. Next Item Bookmarklet Chas. J. Owens made one. Thank him. It requires some effort to setup, but the instructions are clear.
Good news everyone. It looks like we can finally show some result of what we have been doing for the last couple of months, namely our mobile API. We have been running it on our test server for a week, gathered some initial feedback from several awesome mobile developers, and we think it’s now ready to be tested by the general public.
What does it mean to you? It means that there is now technical possibility to use The Old Reader with your favorite RSS app.
You can already try The Old Reader in Feeddler – free version already supports it, and the Pro version should get updated any time soon. Kudos to Che-Bin Liu for being extremely helpful in testing the API and getting Feeddler integrated so fast.
The documentation for the API is available in a separate github repo. It’s not the best piece of docs we’ve ever seen, but it seems to cover the basic use cases. You are welcome to improve it, just send us a pull request with your adjustments. Please note that even though you can use API both via http and https, we highly encourage you to use https for security reasons.
And last, but not least, spread the word. Let the developer of your favorite RSS app know about The Old Reader API, and ask them to get integrated. We would really like to see more and more apps working with the site bringing native mobile experience to the users of all platforms.
Beautiful and unrelated picture from Trending page. By Michal Karcz
So, many users have been asking us about our plans and some ETAs for many features we have in our roadmap. As all of you probably know, The Old Reader is something that we do in our spare time, and obviously the amount of work we can do is heavily influenced by our day jobs, personal life, and air dates of our favorite TV shows. So while we usually are quite open about our plans, we prefer not to promise any release dates.
However, today is different. One of the most voted feature requests in our roadmap (and an important pre-requisite for the most popular request) – API – is nearly ready. We finished what we believe is the first beta of the API, and we have started getting some preliminary feedback from a small group of early testers. Our plan is to get it deployed to production next week. If you are a mobile app developer, and you’d like to participate in the early testing – please get in touch with us, and we will be happy to give you access to our testing playground.
What’s next? Well, given that Google Reader will cease to exist in less than 2 weeks, we have been seeing quite a lot of new users recently, so we need to spend some time on refactoring our data storage systems to be able to serve this increasing number of users with the limited resources we have. Why not just buy more servers, you’ll ask? Well, we’d love to, but the amount of donations we receive right now covers about half of our hosting cost, so we have to pay several hundreds of Euro every month to run the site. We almost finished all the legal formalities, so we hope to be able to get the Paypal donations button back pretty soon. It feels like making The Old Reader was easier than registering a company to accept payments to run it. This is ridiculous.
Yeah, and since we mentioned Google Reader, lots of new users is not the only indicator of day X getting closer and closer. It looks like during the past few weeks every other person with coding skills decided to make their own RSS reader. We love that — the more the merrier. But we are not amused with the some marketing techniques used. We have been getting reports that users who read our updates in twitter are getting mass followed by some of the new kids on the block. We’d like to apologize to all our users who became a victim of this spam. Sorry, guys, gals and cats, we don’t like it as much as you do.
Our first public beta was released on June 13 a year ago. It had an ugly icon and default Bootstrap theme, but it was ok. At least, our friends said so. Looking back, I can’t believe what we have actually achieved in a year, and I absolutely can’t believe the amount of things that need to be done. The scale of things is also kind of scary.
One of our users suggested that we update our blog more often, another one posted the picture below, so we decided to write more regular updates of what we are up to. And even though The Old Reader is our free time project, we usually spend time on it every day.
Google Reader is due to be closed in less than a month, and our team can feel things heating up: new web-based RSS readers seem to be launching every week; we got some new code contributors aboard; and we started getting more and more questions about API and mobile apps.
Well, API is being cooked, and it is getting there. It is about 70% done, and I can already have first The Old Reader in-app experience (basic and painful, but still!). We really hope we can completely finish it in July, and it remains our top priority. I already have a mailing list for developers (thank you for your input on REST vs Google Reader API) and everyone else who expressed their interest in this topic, so the moment it’s ready we’ll spread the news as much as we can.
Besides working in API, we’ve been quite busy with other stuff during last couple of months: improved our feed refresh intervals significantly, fixed a number of nasty bugs that duplicated user posts in some cases, improved monitoring, and answered what feels like several thousands of emails, forum messages, and tweets.
We have also recently enjoyed crossing another milestone in user count – 218 – and sorted some legal issues that seemed actually more difficult than all our technical challenges combined.
We also launched several new servers so that we could fit new users, and our hosting cost increased even more. So we will kindly remind you of that Flattr button (hopefully it won’t be there for too long).
Next planned post will be about our future plans, making The Old Reader sustainable, and probably some announcements.
(image from our Trending section which never fails to amuse)
We have been busy implementing and testing some of the features you requested, and we finally deployed them earlier today. Besides fixing a number of server- and client-side bugs, we’ve shipped:
— Extended keyboard shortcuts. Press ? to see the list of the shortcuts that are now available to you;
— Enhanced list view: we now show part of the post text after the title, and clicking on any part of it expands the post;
— Lazy loading of images and media content for list view: heavy content is now only loaded when you expand the post. This saves quite a lot of browser resources and bandwidth for mobile users;
— UI enhancements: full time is now displayed when you hover the human readable timestamps. Also, client side code should now show you an error message when it cannot talk to the server.
Getting so many things done in such a short period of time would not be possible without our brilliant contributors. We have been helped by our old friend Nick Bugaiov, Ben Gdovicak, and Brian Jou. Those are the awesome people who responded to our call for help a month ago, and invested their precious time to make The Old Reader better. Well done guys!
If you know your way around Ruby on Rails and have some time to spend on improving the site you hopefully use quite often — drop us a note (firstname.lastname@example.org), we still have some space in that dark basement we all sit at night coding.
Today we are celebrating first year anniversary of The Old Reader. A year ago I talked to Dmitry about photography and, while browsing Google Reader, once again recalled how good it had been before November 2011 and persuaded Dmitry to start building a new reader for us and our friends. This was the start of our project. Then we had to come up with the name, and do it fast. Then Dmitry started coding, Anton began configuring stuff on his and Dmitry’s own servers, and I started asking all kinds of questions in numerous emails to my friends all around the world (here is my Oscar speech about people who helped us with the first beta in June).
I was sure that we could make it but I never imagined that we’d go as far as we have gone. I never imagined that in a year we would grow up from 50 friends to over 200,000 people. I never imagined we’d be able to refresh about 4 million feeds every day. I never imagined that my “strategy” will apparently lead us to getting covered by all major tech media. And I certainly never imagined we would be getting this amount of warm words, feedback and support in donations that allows us to keep going.
But news can’t be always good. Recently Anton was asked to stop working on The Old Reader in his spare time because of a potential conflict of interest with his day job. This is a heartbreaking moment for Dmitry and me. Anton was the one who provided his own hardware when we started the project, then built our own infrastructure from scratch, managed, supported, and made it scaleable. He was always the “on call” engineer for The Old Reader, patching mongodb code at 6 AM or revamping our monitoring in the middle of night. He had a clear vision of his part of the job, and if you ever received a reply to your feedback that was probably too sharp and direct — that was most likely from him. We’d never go this far if not for his involvement in the project.
I am inclined to work on The Old Reader and bring it to a new level, starting with search for funding and making it a full-time job, even if it means putting away everything else, having even less spare time, and getting even more project-related emotional swings.
A year ago we only had an idea and some spare time, nothing else. Now we have a plan, a deadline, a vision, help from our new contributors (more on this in a separate blog post soon), and of course the invaluable support of our awesome users who donate to keep the project running. And that’s a start. Thank you everyone.
Mixed news everyone: update, help search, report and pics.
Mixed news everyone!
1. First and the most important: thank you everybody for your donations. We now have enough to secure our servers for the next two months or so. You can donate using Flattr or using bitcoins: 1JMYDeTaJHvfL6stbvwNdbY8zVqWfEnucU.
2. We’ve got an incredible amount of emails during last three weeks. There’ve been several days when all three of us were busy mostly dealing with user requests. If you believe that The Old Reader is missing something (and it surely is), please go to our Uservoice page, browse the issues (most likely, someone has already created your suggestion), and vote for the ones you like. Also you can see what’s already planned there. And please, check our Status page or subscribe to our Twitter account — we are updating these two on current issues.
We only have that much time during the day to spare on this project, and we would prefer to spend it making The Old Reader more reliable or implementing new features, not removing duplicate feature requests or explaining how to create a folder.
We are focused on making everything work for the vast number of users and feeds, for now this is our top priority.
3. We could really use some help on the Ruby on Rails front. If you have experience engineering medium-size websites, and you’d like to become a part of our small team, please, drop us a line to email@example.com. If you have any other suggestions about how you can help us, feel free to email us as well. Or just spread the word, that’d be much appreciated.
We can’t pay you a huge pile of money, but we still have something interesting to offer.
Our user base recently grew 15x (and counting), and this changed everything. In a week we have gone from a personal project ran by three friends to a personal project ran by three friends with about 150,000 users.
Thank you everyone for your kind words, support, critique and active participation!
We are doing everything to bring things back to normal again, and we need your support.
We pay lots of attention to user requests, so we could not ignore the one where you had been asking for a way to donate us money.
We have been looking for a good way to accept donations, and we found Flattr. It is a simple way to manage your micro donations. You can either donate us fixed amount of money, or press the “flattr” button, and then your monthly budget would be distributed it among us and other projects you donated to during a month.
If you feel like donating a significant sum or you find flattr inconvenient, drop us a note (firstname.lastname@example.org), we will figure something out.
If it’s a stretch, please don’t feel obligated to send us anything. We will use the money to expand our server infrastructure, which will help us to refresh feeds more often, process import queue more quickly, and even might even allow us to get more external resources to implement new features sooner.
Thank you everyone for your support. Every single contribution is an enormous help for us.
Unexpected day: what are we gonna do about Google Reader death? Keep calm and carry on.
This morning I have mixed feelings: I am happy that we have the possibility to bring our beloved The Old Reader to a new level, and I am sad that Google Reader soon will be completely over. It was a large part of my daily internet life. We even started making The Old Reader because no one could stand my whining anymore.
News came unexpected (mind you, we are living in GMT, so it was literally the middle of the night), but we are doing out best. We tripled our user base (and still counting), and our servers are not amused so far. We will be deploying more capacity shortly, so things should get better by the end of the day. Please, be patient with us.
This is overwhelming. When we started this as something for us and our friends to use, we never expected so many of you to join us in our journey. Thank you very much for your kind words and support, we appreciate this.
Seeing Google Reader go, many of you are asking whether The Old Reader is going to stick around. Also, quite a lot of people would like to donate to keep our project running. We have been discussing this quite a lot recently, and we decided that paid accounts (the freemium model) are the way to go. We want to keep making a great product for our users, not cater it for advertisers’ needs.
We are going to be honest, we have not even started coding this yet. However, we would like to get this news out as soon as possible for everyone to know the way we will be going. Paid accounts will have some additional features, but the basic free accounts will still be 100% usable. We are not in this game to make money, but we want to give something special back to the people who are going to be supporting us.
We have our daily jobs, so we can’t promise that new features will be ready tomorrow or next week. We have no investors or fancy business plans, but we are open about everything we do, and we want to do it the right way.
We reworked the plans according to the news today. Creating an API for mobile clients is the number one priority in our roadmap. We would love to collaborate with any developers who were making Google Reader clients. Please, spread the word about this if you can.
For those of you who are posting feedback and creating new feature requests - please, double-check for existing items in Uservoice. We hate answering the same questions multiple times and removing duplicate requests.
Most asked questions are: - “When will OPML import be working again?” As soon as we launch more capacity to handle this. Hopefully, later today. - “Why are you asking for access to my Google contacts when I log in via Google account?” We don’t anymore. - “When will you make an iOS app? How about Android?” We will start with API as soon as we can and see how it goes. - “Why is there no way to login without Google or Facebook accounts?” We cover that one in our knowledge base, but we plan to implement own login code. The demand is high. - “How do I rename a feed?”. Just browse the Tour page, please? - “Shut up and take my money!”. Will work on that, stay tuned.
We have lots of things to do, and it will probably take us several days to reply to all emails and tickets. Also, Twitter keeps reminding us about daily tweet limits, so there might be delays as well.
Some other news: last week our developer (on the left) turned 21, and we have implemented PubSubHubbub support. Many of you asked us to make feed updates faster, and PubSubHubbub makes compatible feeds refresh almost instantly. Yay!
Thank you very much for your support. We will do our best during next three months to prepare for the day Google Reader will no longer be around.
We hope that you all had a great holiday season and entered 2013 as enthusiastic as we are now! As you may guess we are receiving tons of emails with feature requests, and to make those easier to track we have configured a special feedback page. Go ahead and check it out - you can submit new feature requests as well as vote for existing ones. Also this now gives us lots of visibility into what our users really want, so we can spend our time on what’s important first. Keep your voices coming, but please avoid creating duplicate issues (we hate deleting them).
During past months we have mostly been busy refactoring our database backend. This is not something that you can see, but it helped us cut some hardware costs and will ensure that we can scale as fast as our user base grows. We also implemented some minor features you’ve been asking about - reverse post sorting and new passwordless Pocket integration. (You will need to check your Settings menu for that).
You might have also noticed a new image that says Unteleported on our main page. Don’t get scared, as we have not got bought by an evil corporation just yet. We have been discussing various ways to cover our increasing hardware costs, and we liked the idea of being sponsored by cool companies we can relate to. Unteleported is the first of such companies - they are our good old friends, a team of software development professionals (hey, our only real software engineer works there!) who agreed to partially cover our bills. We are extremely grateful for what they do and would like to encourage you to check their new shiny website out. If you have a cool software project to develop, they are the right people!
We were receiving requests and suggestions about translating The Old Reader to various languages. Well, we have a winner! We thank our bright friend and an early Old Reader adopter Daria Nifontova for the Russian translation she made (now available in Settings menu). For anyone else wishing to contribute there is now a separate github repository, and we are happy to accept your pull requests.
And finally, we don’t want to be ahead of ourselves, but our next major update will probably include that B-word we all are waiting for. Cool, no?
This is amazing. Incredible. Outstanding. And absolutely unexpected. We reached our personal milestone this morning. In early June Dmitry made a bet that he would start making an iOS app once The Old Reader hits 5000 registrations, and the team gladly accepted this challenge. We have not expected this to happen until early 2013 but in these last five days ~1900 new users registered. These are mostly some awesome people from Brazil who have found us and spread the word in Twitter with astonishing passion and lots of sincerity.
We are sorry for some technical issues you might have experienced recently; importing your feeds should work much better now and we are trying various things to make it work perfectly. And thank you all for your patience, words can’t describe how important and touching it was to receive reassuring replies like “Ok, I can wait :)”.
What does this mean for us?
The Old Reader is not even half-finished. We have lots of different tasks to do and the list is growing on a daily basis. All Dmitry talks about these days is different optimizations, while Anton silently opens terminal and starts typing, while Elena is trying to land us a sponsorship or a partnership. And, of course, we are looking forward to bookmarklet, mass-editing, sorting, and lots of other features you requested.
What does it mean for you?
The Old Reader is not even half-finished. But some day it will be.
What does it mean for all of us?
As we promised earlier, along with other tasks we are going to start working on an iOS app. Yes, it’s a big deal for us.
Last month was not the best for our team in terms of our project: one of us changed jobs, some of us changed countries and all three of us are now unable to spend evenings and weekends coding, tweaking, fixing, writing emails, resolving issues, and generally having the best experience that friends can have: creating something together. But we will continue doing everything we can to bring The Old Reader to the new level.
We thank all our users for your interest, kind words, critique, suggestions, patience, and new challenges you give us. And thanks to our old and new friends for using The Old Reader to read, curate, and share the best content ever. Keep on going and we will keep on working.
P.S. We knew that Elena can cry while reading emails and replies in Twitter, we witnessed her doing that multiple times during last few days, but apparently she is also able to write a post and cry at the same time. Hardcore multitasking.
Also known as Milestone 2.0 in our internal discussions. We closed 51 tickets in our tracking system and dedicated five weeks to designing, implementing and deploying a lot of key-features. Most notable for our users are:
New identity and slick interface design
We teamed up with bright and talented Igor Kosyrev to create a completely different image of our project. Our logo, interface, twitter and blog already look brand new, however we will be additionally fine-tuning the interface during next several weeks.
We replaced ‘Star’ button with a ‘Pocket’ button to store everything you want in your Pocket (ex Read It Later) account. Their app was made for it and it gives lots of organizing options.
We created small Safari and Chrome browser extensions to notify you on new things to read.
Enhanced hotkeys and list view
Full list of hotkeys:
'j' and 'k' (space and shift + space) to navigate posts;
'o' opens the post in a new window;
's' to share a post;
'l' to mark it as liked.
Navigating through list view will open next post and close previous automatically.
We are concentrating on Bookmarklet, mobile versions, mass-editing features and everything we mentioned here for now.
(The Old Reader team, finishing a milestone on a Saturday night)
This is another happy announcement — we closed milestone 1.5, which means that The Old Reader now has the following features up and running:
Folders view (with counters);
Facebook approval for timeline sharing;
Better performance: optimized tables, revamped feeds fetching, some operations running on the background;
Atom feeds bug fixed;
Resharing your friends posts.
Things we are currently working on:
New (but still simple) design and style;
Mass-editing of RSS feeds;
More sharing options;
Read It Later (Pocket) integration;
Brushed up mobile versions.
We have also added one more server and are happy with the project so far — it is something we have done from scratch by ourselves (with friends’ help) and now new tasks, things to manage, bugs to deal with, user feedback to consider and milestones to reach are getting are more and more challenging and interesting. We now have to deal with with scalability, performance optimization and interface issues and we are excited about that.
Even before going beta, we had already been working on improvements and enhancements for the future. We read and considered every bit of your feedback, so here are some major things our small team is now working on:
Folder view (clicking on a folder shows posts from all feeds that folder contains) — done!;
List view for RSS feeds;
Bookmarklet to share almost everything;
More keyboard shortcuts.
We understand that these things are important part of The Old Reader’s experience, so we are keen to deliver them as soon as possible.
Thank you for your feedback and patience. We appreciate you keeping in mind that we are a small group of friends teamed up on this project, not a Google department (though we sometimes wish we were).
P.S. We are happy to announce that fourth person has joined us in this development adventure: meet an old friend, Mykola Bugaiov, 24, RoR Developer currently living in Germany.
Today The Old Reader’s beta version became public and our team is happy with all the support and feedback so far, please keep ‘em coming.
I want to thank my friends for inspiring, helping and motivating me, so I never gave up on something I liked. I want to thank Dmitriy Krasnoukhov & Anton Tolchanov for making it happen and being incredibly patient while doing so.
I want to thank everyone who responded to my numerous letters and helped us along these eight weeks and personally Igor Safonov for logo lettering and UI improvements, Danil Mekhanoshin and Sergey Tomilov for UI analysis and fixes, Dasha Mingalieva for icon, Kseniya Ryzhkova for priceless guidelines and advices on communication, Natasha Rostovtseva for insightful questions and comments, Anna Gorodetskaya for a professional view on social media issues, Anton Outkine for agreeing to take care of some future layouts, Nata Pokrovskaya for being an attentive OCD beta-tester, Anna Zabolotnaya for encouragement and my sharebros for incredibly detailed useful feedback and kind words.
I could go on and on with the list, you guys are awesome, thank you for every new user, mention, tweet, feature request and bug report. We already have a new milestone and some serious improvements to deliver.
Unfortunately, after all this we launched The Old Reader in Firefox 3.0 and Internet Explorer 6.0 (both in Windows XP) and right now all we want to stop doing anything. Ever. And spend the rest of our days on a different planet.
How we started? A part of our team loved the original old reader so much, she never missed a chance to whine about how good it was. Another part of our team was really patient to listen to all of that whining and was ready to start doing something right after another 1/3 of our team realized it was a really cool challenge and started coding.
We are nearly ready for a private beta (Share With Note and comments are being deployed right now). We missed the old reader and were tired of waiting for someone to do it so much, we created The Old Reader from scratch in five weeks.