May 1, 2013
May 1 release is here!

image

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

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.

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 12, 2012
Thank you note

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.

Thank you all very much,

Elena Bulygina (The Old Reader’s team)