Vincent Ritter

An introduction to Sublime Feed

It's my birthday this week (apparently I am turning 38 on the 8th according to my calendar reminder — I never know my exact age), and June is generally an awesome month, and so I am planning a few things to kick things off.

Today I am giving you a small breakdown of Sublime Feed, my feed reader I am building, what it does and doesn’t.

Let me just say this is how I personally want a feed reader to work and look, which means it's absolutely bare minimum right now... no bells and whistles. Just a feed of posts that automatically get fetched (no manual refresh button), no unread count (just a nice little "hey, this is new since the last time") and a love for the web — that means, for now, all posts you see will always link to the respective website.

I really love the web, well... most of it anyway (minus the ads and whatever cookie things), and seeing each personalty of each site really brings it home for me (especially if they are personal ones). I totally get the appeal of having a dedicated reader view, and that is something I will work on — but not today.

Exposing you to the real website also invites exploration, and I think as a default this is what I always want to have — yes, many reader apps have taught us otherwise — I am here to say that it’s OK. Some apps do this so very well and have real good taste.

I’ve been using Sublime Feed for the past week, and I am really happy with the way it already changed my habit of reading. If you want to have a feel for it there is the Scribbles Explore feed that displays posts in a very similar way — hey, I gotta copy where I can.

I’ll say this now. It’s not for everyone, and it never will be.

The Feed (My Feed)

So this is your very own, minimal, feed. It displays posts for all your subscriptions that you have, with an easy to see accent colour (which you can of course customise). Right now there are no favicons or website icons that you can override — I’m gonna work on that soon.

The motivation for accent colours and allowing you to override things is that it’s a personal experience for you. Your reading habit is yours and I think it’s nice to be able to tend ones garden.

"My Feed" shows a maximum of 50 posts per page, with up to 500 total posts. It’s all paged. If you want to read anything beyond the 500 you can always go to each respective feed and go crazy.

Here is my "subscription" page for the Scribbles Explore feed:

It gives you a quick overview of options enabled (more on that in a moment), and when it was last fetched. The fetching happens automatically.


I had a hard time with naming this... because what is a "subscription"? Well, it’s just a feed, right? Yes... but it’s a feed you’re subscribing to... so I don’t know, maybe the wrong name, but that’s what I went with for now.

You subscription list is sorted by the latest you have added — I’m gonna add more filter options at some stage. Don’t forget I am only 1 week into developing this.

There is also an option to pin feeds/subscriptions (see what I mean?) to the top, donated by the paperclip icon (again, probably the wrong icon here). Pinned feeds also have their own dedicated "Pinned Feed" section, similar to "My Feed" — it’s just all the posts for all pinned subscriptions.

The idea is also allow a quick access to your favourite feeds from within the little menu (the logo has a dropdown like Scribbles).

I also wanted a bit of playfulness here, so I added some hover animations... so things just pop — here is Kev’s site jumping out at you as I hover over it:

Each subscription shows the last post date (again, not the best icon). Originally I had the time when the feed was last checked, but that felt a bit too much... and again FOMO inducing, so I got rid of it. Just know everything happens in the background.

It would be nice if I sorted that list A-Z or by last post date.

Anyway, one week in and that’s where I’m at for now.

Each subscription can be edited, minus the feed URL. You can add a name that suits you because sometimes I can get it wrong, the feed has incomplete data, or you want something that works for you. Then there is the accent colour of course. I went to each website and picked out the most prominent colour and added those as and when I added them — again I am tending to my own garden. Right now, when you add a new feed, it’ll choose an accent at random. I may offer a "suggested" accent for popular feeds.

On top, I am planning to surface a favicon and also allow you to upload your very own image at some stage this month. No idea when.

Then we have some extra options. Something that will hopefully set this apart from other readers.

First: You can surface author data, for feeds that have multiple authors and it’ll show next to the "subscription" name on the feed timeline.

Then there is an option to hide posts from your feed (My Feed) for a specific subscription... and this is what I actually really wanted for myself. I would love to follow a blog, but not have it show up in my general reading routine. This is for various reasons. There is a similar option in Gluon where I can "Pin" a user profile without actually following. Great for feeds that are more dynamic and have a lot going on. Or they can be on a subject you want to keep an eye on without wanting to have it show during your normal reading time.

And of course, you can pin a feed which then pushes it to the top of your subscription list and also appears in the dedicated feed.

One thing I want to add soon is have an option to get an email when a specific feed posts, for example Hypercritical. That’s one I want to read each time John posts, and I don’t want to miss it because I took a few weeks off from an otherwise busy feed.

Some tidbits

Of course everything is very basic right now. There are many feeds that I did not yet try and will probably fail. Posts that only contain an image with no post title or any other content don’t yet work.

There is a simple marker that shows your last read position — it’s updated every 15 minutes as you view the site and eventually disappears. I didn’t want to do anything too clever, just have a small indicator where the last latest post was. Because you loaded the feed page, it’ll know what the top most post was, and it goes from there — there will be ways to make this work better... but it works for my needs right now.

Feeds are automatically fetched in the background. When you add a new feed, it checks if it already exists in a global table, if so, you should immediately see some posts — if it’s new, it’ll go ahead and fetch posts within a few seconds. It’s then kept up to date every minute or so — something I will keep an eye on to see how it works out with more feeds.

I haven’t thought about "private" feeds yet that require some sort of login. And I probably won’t. I also don’t know about Podcast feeds, I need to experiment with that... it would be nice if I could surface a little player on the post itself.

As I said earlier, the post links straight to the website. I do store the text of the post so I could potentially use it for more than just a little preview. That will come and I have some great ideas already.

I have also worked on a "Mute" list last night, but decided to scrap it for now and will work on it on another weekend. The mute list just allows you to add words, which in turn filters out those posts in your feeds. Great when you agree 80% with the posts, but don’t like some of the other hot topics.

There is also no concept of "unread". I don’t need that in my life... and I know some of you do. I think having an unread count isn’t healthy. Each time you load up your feed it’s a snapshot of this very moment in time and you can just pick and choose. I think it’s easy enough to remember the post you just read and move onto the other.

I also understand that a lot of people don’t need another "service" for their reading needs — that’s OK too.


... well, considering it’s all super basic and things are surely going to break... and that you have been warned... and that you understand that I won’t be able to cater to everyone just yet... you can email me here to get a registration link. Just don’t send me an empty email (makes me sad).

Sublime Feed will be paid, but not that soon — there are things I want to get in before I open it up. I am not sure about the timeline, but know it will be the same $5/month like everything else I do. I am still working out the details on how that looks, maybe a trial period or 10 free feeds — I really don’t know.

I would of course appreciate any bugs you encounter with adding feeds so I can make sure that I handle a diverse set of feeds — crazy how different each feed can be!

I don’t think I’ll be able to respond today with invites, but know it will land in your inbox by next week.

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