A long time ago before RSS became a standard, Twitter was not on the horizon yet all sites that wanted to inform their regular users used newsletters. Some sites even still uses them, piecing together regular RSS with special news. (Although even before the www era existed Network News Transfer Protocol1 to deliver news to people. You did not even need to subscribe, it was easy to search and had a built-in archieving structure, I really wonder when will be the renessaince of NNTP.)
RSS is a good thing. It is well structured, documented, easy to parse and use in programs - but the available readers a suprisingly bad.
What’s my problem? I’d like to access my RSS just from as many devices I use for email
- from work, online
- from phone, online but with cached data
- from laptop, offline
Here’ a little list why I was searching for something else.
- Google Reader2
- One of the most commonly used reader is Google Reader. Pretty simple, available anywhere - but not anytime. You need to be online, and also, Google has one more thing about you to chew on and serve even more commercials made especially for you.
- Mozilla Thunderbird3
- I used to love Thunderbird. About 5 years ago I knew everything I wanted in a mailer and it could even read RSS. But today? It lacks sync abilities for caldav, for carddav, for SyncML, it’s slow and becoming more and more incompatible with most if it’s plugins, thanks for the update intervals. It’s digging it’s own grave, just like Firefox, and I really hope someone turn Tunderbird back into the yearly releases as before. Regarding the bugs and the problems, it still does one thing pretty good: it can copy RSS to an imap folder, therefore it’s able to archiving them quite easily.
- Tiny tiny RSS4
- This small project creates deployable online RSS reader, just prefect to replace Google Reader - my thoughts until I realized it does not work with PHP open_basedir restriction. Let it pass!
This is the point where the obvious come in: let’s parse RSS on my server, and send them as emails!
The solution: rss2email
Living in 2012 I was sure someone had already done a tool for this. After a few commercial applications I’ve found a python based open source solution to send RSS as email5, named rss2email.
It has a pretty good description in installation and configuration6, I could not write a better one. Just one thing: first I tried installing it from Ubuntu repository, but I was unable to locate the
config.py file needed to configure the program, so I downloaded the latest and everything worked nicely.