May 1, 2013
May 1 release is here!

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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 (hello@theoldreader.com), we still have some space in that dark basement we all sit at night coding.

April 25, 2013
It’s this time of the year again: a long post from Elena

The most awesome cat ever except for mine(picture from Pusheen.com)


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.

Elena

January 16, 2013
News and updates

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(Image source: Wikipedia)

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).

Unteleported logo

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?

12:00pm
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October 8, 2012
5000 users, starting iOS app, future plans, hopes & tears

One happy team

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 :)”.

So, 5000.

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.

August 17, 2012
First public release

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.

Pocket integration

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.

Browser extensions

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.

Thank you and stay tuned.

6:37pm
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Filed under: news about reader improvements 
July 10, 2012
Milestone 1.5

(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:

  • List view;
  • Folders view (with counters);
  • New landing page and a privacy policy;
  • Facebook approval for timeline sharing;
  • Better performance: optimized tables, revamped feeds fetching, some operations running on the background;
  • Atom feeds bug fixed;
  • Tiny userpics;
  • Resharing your friends posts.

Things we are currently working on:

  • New (but still simple) design and style;
  • Mass-editing of RSS feeds;
  • Bookmarklet;
  • More sharing options;
  • Search filters;
  • Post tagging;
  • 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.

Thank you for being with us.

June 14, 2012
Workin’it

(artwork by dimic77)

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. 

7:41am
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Filed under: news improvements 
June 9, 2012
Majority report

Pic of the day: it’s Friday night! Project manager watches from her laptop as front end / back end developer is deploying final version. 

Awesome drag-n-drop controls — check. (we also offer keyboard shortcuts)

Bug fixes — check.

Folders collapsing — check.

Logo and favicon — check. (try making The Old Reader a web app on your iOS device)

Resolving all beta version issues — check!

Whoa, that’s a big happy check.

It means, we are ready to show The Old Reader to our friends.

May 31, 2012
Daily report

Pic of the day: our front end / back end developer and engineer, rewriting landing page.

What else we did today for The Old Reader (in no particular order):

  • Tweaked layout a bit;
  • Edited landing page;
  • Colored some buttons;
  • Migrated to a different server;
  • Received enormous pack of UI revision from some awesome guys (details later);
  • Broke following and comments features;
  • Fixed following and comments features;
  • Added four new issues and closed two existing;
  • Wrote several important letters;
  • Created an error 500 page with a kitten;
  • Changed about us page.

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.

May 30, 2012
The comments are working. Yay hooray!

The comments are working. Yay hooray!

7:37pm
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Filed under: news improvements