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Simpler syndication, by Dr. Drang

A fortnight ago, Dr. Drang wrote about his new RSS service: a Python script that polls his subscriptions once every five minutes, and renders the output as a static HTML page. Reading it was one of those “doh” moments, an idea so simple that I’m annoyed I hadn’t thought of it myself.

I’m a very light RSS user – I only subscribe to a handful of feeds, and I don’t need any of the advanced syncing stuff. (Indeed, managing unread status is almost more work than it’s worth for me.) A Python script that I can modify as much as I want is a much better fit for my needs.

The nice thing about a Python script is that it gives me arbitrary control over the posts. Most RSS services already support basic keyword filtering to hide posts, but with a script I can write whatever rules I like. And I can modify or extend post content before it gets displayed – for example, on sites that only offer a truncated RSS feed.

(I’m probably the only person who cares about this level of tweaking, but I enjoy fixing small distractions in my RSS reader.)

I also made some cosmetic tweaks, mostly reusing the templates and CSS from this blog (albeit with a different colour scheme). This includes dating every post, and better support for linkposts.

This is what the revised version looks like on my Mac:

A browser window with two RSS articles, and a purple title “drangReader”.

and on my iPhone:

An iPhone browser screenshot with a single article, and purple stripe “drangReader” at the top of the window.

My updated code is in a Gist.