blindRSS is a very simple browser-operated RSS reader.

I’ve started this project in 2008 to learn some AJAX. I was disappointed in all the RSS readers I found back then for a simple reason: Lack of synchronisation and the need to be online. I’ll explain each of these now:

  • Lack of synchronisation
    If I want to read RSS feeds from home, work or from my mobile phone or tablet or wherever, I needed an RSS reader on each of these devices. Sadly, these didn’t talk to each other so I would have the same entries in the feeds over and over again. Especially in some high-volume feeds this quickly becomes tedious.
  • Need to be online
    Neither my desktop PC, my laptop, my phone or my tablet are always turned on. But if they’re off I might miss entries, especially in some stupid feeds that display only a handful of entries or when I’m offline for a few days (vacation for example) and still don’t want to miss out.
    But I had a server rented in a datacenter that is running 24/7. So the logical conclusion was to run the RSS reader there and to be able to access it from everywhere I decided on a web-application.

In the beginning I took a small book (“AJAX Ge-Packt”) and started working on the “Web 2.0”-y part of the reader. I wanted it to be “slick” and responsive, not reload an entire website for every entry (not that I wouldn’t do stuff like that cough).
Since AJAX means “Asynchronous Javascript And XML” I started working on the XML part. Little did I know about JSON and I didn’t want to use ready-to-use toolkits for this, so I hand-crafted my xmlHttpRequest and returned pseudo-XML from the server. You can still see (and use!) that code from the blindRSS version 0.1 if you really, really want to.

The story could end here if I had found another RSS reader that would have suited me. I really, really, really dislike the idea of dumping any of my personal data into the hands of a third party. Unfortunately this is the boom of Software-as-a-Service and everyone and their dog are offering (and jumping to use) tools that run on the providers premises, preventing any kind of control or power over them by the end user.
To me, that is an inacceptable situation. It’s why I’m running my own mailserver, my own cloud, my own everything as far as reasonably possible. It’s also why I never even considered Google Reader (which is now rightfully dead anyway) or any other “hosted” solution for RSS reading.
It’s also the reason why I’m probably never going to abandon this project. At least not while there are still RSS feeds to read.

What started as a simple playground for me to learn javascript and AJAX has over the years turned into a tool that I use every day. I hope it might become the same for you!