Feed Wrangler experienced some downtime last week, thanks in no small part to the popularity of Reeder 2 that had launched the very same day. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the first downtime the service has experienced and there’s been the odd service issue every now and then. It’s never been prolonged downtime but it was enough for me to start looking at alternatives.
As Feed Wrangler was, at the time, the best choice for a feed reading service in a post-Google Reader world, I never really explored the services that came onto the scene after I subscribed. It was certainly the first with a business model and, because of that, I was more than happy to spend the $19 for a year’s membership. David Smith, the developer, built the service from scratch with pricing in mind.
I’ve never really been 100% happy with Feed Wrangler, not in the sense that it was unreliable but in the way it works. I could never get used to Smart Streams, the feature it uses in lieu of folders, as they could only really be configured via the web interface. This would mean I’d often not get round to setting them up or updating them. Worse still, most apps that support Feed Wrangler can’t modify or create Smart Streams. As most of my feed reading is on an iOS device, this was a constant thorn in my side.
I have been tempted by Digg Reader a few times, a service that I have used from time to time but as there’s no developer API, it means sticking to their own app which is good, but not great.
After Reeder 2 was released, I began to explore the services that it supports and found Feedly to be as close to what Google Reader used to be as any other service. I’d actually used Feedly some time ago but couldn’t stand their own iOS app, so much that I never gave the service a chance. Now that their feed reading service has a comprehensive API, I can now manage my folders using a compatible feed reading app, such as Reeder 2.
Feedly’s website is much better than Feed Wrangler’s and its organisational settings are easy to use and very intuitive. Again, that’s not a dig or complaint, both Feedly and Feed Wrangler are two completely different companies. Feed Wrangler is a one-man operation while Feedly is a VC-backed startup.
Feedly does, unfortunately, require a Google account to work. Not a deal breaker for me but anyone who doesn’t want to be evil may want to skip it. On the plus side, Feedly does have a business model that includes a monthly or annual subscription. I’m using the free account though expect to subscribe once I’m settled in.
Both Feed Wrangler and Feedly support the import and export of OPML files so switching platforms was a piece of cake. I’d still recommend Feed Wrangler and have absolutely no regrets paying for a year’s membership when I’ve switched away after only three months (it’s only $19) and, as Shawn Blanc writes, Smart Streams can be a powerful tool.