back to article Your RSS is grass: Mozilla euthanizes feed reader, Atom code in Firefox browser, claims it's old and unloved

When Firefox 64 arrives in December, support for RSS, the once celebrated content syndication scheme, and its sibling, Atom, will be missing. "After considering the maintenance, performance and security costs of the feed preview and subscription features in Firefox, we’ve concluded that it is no longer sustainable to keep feed …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Developing in sometimes difficult... who knew?

    I'm sure there's a plan to swap Gecko out for WebKit/Blink... they're just working out how to break the news to everyone.

    Oh, and why would live bookmarks ever need to sync?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Developing in sometimes difficult... who knew?

      Gecko died a few versions back and was replaced by Quantum/Electron wasn't it?

      Never bothered with live bookmarks but a preview of the feed is easy to do and the libraries for parsing RSS are pretty robust and safe. I guess, if they're talking about podcasts, the problems will be with any kind of embedded media / HTML.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Developing in sometimes difficult... who knew?

        Quantum is the name of the project to move code from Servo (a prototype rendering engine) to Gecko.

      2. teebie

        Re: Developing in sometimes difficult... who knew?

        "the libraries for parsing RSS are pretty robust and safe"

        'This works well and doesn't give us an excuse to muck about with it to the detriment of users. remove it immediately.'

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Developing in sometimes difficult... who knew?

      it would have been LESS difficult if they hadn't wasted time and effort doing the following:

      a) Australis

      b) a 'UWP' version (DOA last I heard)

      c) hamburger menu re-invention

      Mozilla: why not just give us what WE WANT instead of what YOU want us to have?

      You're not Micro-shaft. Please don't act like them.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: Developing in sometimes difficult... who knew?

        Mozilla: why not just give us what WE WANT instead of what YOU want us to have?

        I agree with the sentiment but by that logic you still wouldn't be getting a new RSS reader. If nobody uses a feature, Mozilla has to assume nobody wants said feature.

      2. NevTheTech

        Re: Developing in sometimes difficult... who knew?

        Check out Waterfox.

  2. Forget It
    Pint

    I read this news first from the RSS feed:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/headlines.atom

    1. AbortRetryFail

      re: I read this news first from the RSS feed

      Same here.

      I use "Live Bookmarks" on the Bookmarks Toolbar extensively in Firefox and would really miss the functionality.

      1. Chika

        Re: re: I read this news first from the RSS feed

        Totally agree, and on a lighter note, after recently having extended troubles with Quantum, I discovered Waterfox, a branch of Firefox that got out of there before Quantum swallowed up the whole ecosystem.

        I do have one Linux machine running the latest Quantum as a reference point but everything else either runs pre-Quantum ESD or Waterfox. Sod Mozilla if this is their attitude right now - as bad as Microsnot.

      2. John Lilburne Silver badge

        Re: re: I read this news first from the RSS feed

        Same here too. It was FF breaking my RSS reader in FF 56+ that caused me to no longer update the damn thing. OK so FF whines that "You Firefox is critically out of date ... blah blah blah" but they can fuck right off.

      3. Jim 59

        Re: re: I read this news first from the RSS feed

        Sage was once a great RSS reader for Firefox. It was discontinued after Quantum unfortunately, and I still miss it.

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      I gave up on browser RSS about a decade ago and installed Vienna as a dedicated RSS app and have not looked back.

      1. elDog Silver badge

        For me It's Innoreader (inoreader.com) which gets me to El Register pages, along with about 30 other feeds. I want just the headlines, ma'am, and then an abstract (if available), and then the full article.

        As this article says, this subverts all the tracking bits scattered throughout our meals - just like I want it to.

    3. Big Al

      Same here, but using Feedly since Google killed their reader.

    4. DropBear Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Another RSS El Reg reader here - I have quite a few "live bookmarks" and have never read RSS any other way; looked at a few readers a while back but just didn't see the point - "live bookmarks" work just fine and Feed Sidebar lights up a button whenever there's something to read and lists the titles nicely by site on the left. I guess Mozilla just really, REALLY wants to make sure I never even consider using their latest crap.

      What I don't understand is, if they think RSS is obsolete - what are they proposing instead? How are you supposed to be notified that a site you haven't been to for two years sprung back to life and emitted a new post...? And FYI I mean some way other than a Facebook feed whatever that might be because fuck Facebook sideways.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        I like the KISS aspect of RSS El Reg and that it doesn't succumb to the whims of the latest UI/UX fads like the main page does.

    5. edge_e

      I'd forgotten about this. firefox just got updated to 64 and rss is no more :(

      Will be checking out all the suggestions for readers/plugins below

  3. Threlkeld

    Goodnight, Firefox

    So, as I would like to retain this very useful way of quickly scanning for items of interest, where do I go when the light of Firefox dims and my bookmark toolbar loses its row of RSS feeds? Suggestions?

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      Threlkeld - I use a FF add-on called "Brief". It's feature-lite and can be a bit buggy (needs removing and re-loading every few months for some reason), but it's the best RSS reader for Firefox that I've found. No good if you want something that synchs across devices.

    2. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      I use QuiteRSS: http://quiterss.org

      It has an internal WebKit browser but you can set it to open and use any external browser instead (Palemoon for me). I've been very happy with it for about two years now.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Goodnight, Firefox

        "I use QuiteRSS: http://quiterss.org "

        I've been using that recently. The only problem with it is that it stops being able to access the Internet about once or twice a day, and I have to restart it.

    3. K Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      I tend to use RSS on my phone... light toilet entertainment, so to speak! Yes, I do wash my hands, Yes I do wash the phone screen!

      But my go apps are:

      Inoreader - for list management and online reading (Avoid the mess of managing multiple locations)

      News+ On Android - Works with Inoreader

      Reeder On Mac - This is recent for me

    4. Ol'Peculier

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      I've used feedly.com since Google shut Reader, works well and the app on Android is ok too.

    5. petef

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      I recommend https://feedly.com. Content is synchonized across all devices. You can import and export OPML when migrating from/to other readers.

    6. shaolin cookie

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      Waterfox, assuming that they'll retain RSS feeds (which I sorely hope they will!). I already switched thanks to the removal of legacy add-on support from Firefox.

    7. teebie

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      The RSS Aggregator (a chrome extension) on Vivaldi works for me.

    8. Ryan 7

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      Waterfox is a very high-quality fork, which is preserving the core features which brought so many to Firefox in the first place.

    9. NevTheTech

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      Seriously, check out Waterfox...

    10. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Goodnight, Firefox

      On update Firefox will automatically open a page listing several RSS extensions and let you install one and automatically port your RSS feeds over.

      So if you want to keep RSS in Firefox then do nothing, it will work itself out for you.

  4. Tony W

    Please tell me how to do this!

    RSS is like cleaning materials that are cheap basic chemicals. People don't know about them because it wouldn't pay to advertise, and in the end the cheap product becomes hard to find because there's 'no demand.'

    I used to use RSS and really liked it. For me it was the only way to keep up with a very large number of sites without wasting lots of time. Then several readers stopped working for one reason or another ("upgrades") and every time I had to change reader it was to a worse one and I lost all my bookmarks. In the end I gave up, but I still miss it.

    Of course sites have also been removing their RSS feeds, or making them hard to find. There is no large-scale future because If it did become popular, advertisers would surely make it a condition that feeds were removed.

    1. K Silver badge

      Re: Please tell me how to do this!

      @Tony W

      I think your 50% right, this is exactly what happened to Dilbert, because RSS readers where simply hot-linking to the cartoon strip, they stopped it, I suspect it was due to the artist(s) was getting no traffic.

      But where I think you're wrong, is where sites publish articles, they only provide a snippet in the RSS feed, which entices visitors to the page, such as El Reg does. Also, I subscribe to feed that aggregate information and articles on particular subjects from lots of smaller sites, without RSS these smaller sites probably wouldn't get very much traffic at all - So it does still have a lot of relevance.

      It wouldn't suprise me if somebody come up with a slight twist to RSS and tried to commercialise it (Like Slack did with IRC!)

      1. Graham 32

        Re: Please tell me how to do this!

        > It wouldn't suprise me if somebody come up with a slight twist to RSS and tried to commercialise it (Like Slack did with IRC!)

        They did. It's called Twitter. You're supposed to "follow" the people/organisations you're interested in and have them spam the same link 50 times a day to drown out all the others you're following.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "Kruitbosch says, for example, that live bookmarks don't work properly with podcasts, don't sync, don't register whether an article has been read"

    It shows on my FF live bookmarks which articles i have read so Kruitbosch is clearly not correct about that.

    It is a shame they are going to remove this function as I actually use The Register and BBC news feeds as a live bookmark on my FF toolbar, so I can see if there are any articles that take my interest without needing to leave the tab i have open.

    It smells a bit fishing to me that they want to remove RSS when FF has tie in with the Pocket app, I wonder if they got some commercial pressure from that to remove RSS and then they can try to promote Pocket more.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Mozilla bought Pocket for some reason, I guess they need to justify the purchase.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree, my Live Bookmarks show which articles I have read - that is all the functionality that I need from them. It would be good though if Live Bookmarks also existed on the Firefox Android app too - it is a little frustrating that I cannot check simple RSS feeds on the go.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It smells a bit like Pocket

      "It smells a bit fishing to me that they want to remove RSS when FF has tie in with the Pocket app,"

      Looking at Wireshark or TCPDump packet captures always shows my FF browser trying to make a connection to "pocket".

      (Whatever the hell that is)

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: It smells a bit like Pocket

        They say only 0.01% of sessions use RSS. What percentage use Pocket? Surely lower?

        1. Spazturtle Silver badge

          Re: It smells a bit like Pocket

          This may shock you but the vast majority of users like and use Pocket.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still have a few RSS feeds I check regularly, but others have fallen by the wayside.

    >> feeds don't mesh well with the internet's data gathering industry

    is, I suspect, the real reason for the removal from browsers.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      >> feeds don't mesh well with the internet's data gathering industry

      is, I suspect, the real reason for the removal from browsers.

      Pretty much. Sites don't advertise feeds much. If they exist at all it's a tine link buried in the small text at the bottom.

      If sites don't provide an attractive feed and it's not easier or as easy to use as other aggregates like Facebook, of course the browsers are going to drop the code.

      I suspect most people don't want to read more than a paragraph and expect a video instead.

      I've Newsbeuter with feeds from all regularly visited sites set up, but they've gotten so few and far between it's just easier to go direct, and most articles link to the real site anyway these days.

  7. Sam Adams the Dog

    I've always liked RSS

    I use feedly.com now and am pretty happy with it.

    It seems to me that The Reg used to supply RSS links to individual authors. I used to use it to keep up with new postings by Alistair Dabbs, but I haven't been able to find an alternative for a long time. Perhaps someone can tell me if there is a way to do this that I am just missing.

    I like RSS a lot and have been annoyed at its gradual demise.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: I've always liked RSS

      RSS is still the best way to consume day-by-day data on the 'net. For a site like El Reg, we get the executive summary, then click on selected stories we want to read. I don't think I'd hang around here if there were no feed. Ditto other news sites. And all the blogs I follow are through RSS or Atom feeds, either directly or aggregated as Planets (which I follow using a Planet's feed).

      The web browser does nicely for sites one visits proactively but not daily, and for interactive contents. Mailinglists serve for full two-way communication, with a much higher bar to subscription than a feed. Usenet does (or did) interactive comms best of all. RSS serves a niche that is none of those.

      Fortunately these media still integrate: the RSS button in a webpage, and the feed reader launching a full Reg story in a browser. No need for Firefox's builtin stuff, which was always less-than optimal.

      1. chroot

        Re: I've always liked RSS

        > RSS is still the best way to consume day-by-day data on the 'net.

        I agree. The sites that I read most are the ones that have an RSS feed.

    2. Florida1920 Silver badge

      Re: I've always liked RSS

      My phpBB board has an Atom feed, that I read on Fossamail. I can monitor posts without having to keep refreshing the browser. A favorite site of mine, American Bird Conservancy, switched from RSS to Twitter. I don't see their updates anymore. I miss the days when everything online didn't have to be monetized.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've always liked RSS

      One of the main reasons I use FF is the RSS feed support.

      Much quicker to trawl through website articles than on the webpage.

      Does smell of forcing folk onto Pocket.

      However, article does say will be supported via an add-on, so all is not lost just yet...

    4. Hawkeye Pierce

      @Sam Adams: Re: I've always liked RSS

      ElReg does still allow you to get an RSS feed by querying the author, for example:

      http://feed.theregister.co.uk/rss?q=alistair%20dabbs

    5. Muckman

      Re: I've always liked RSS

      Find one of the author's articles and then click on his name. This should bring you to his page. Alongside the contact button you should see the RSS button.

      The page URL will look like this: http://feed.theregister.co.uk/atom?a=Alistair%20Dabbs

      Regards,

  8. Irongut
    FAIL

    RSS is a really simple format that is easy to code, several orders of magnitude simpler than html, javascript, css, etc. I find it really worrying that a spokesperson from Mozilla would describe it as difficult to maintain or bring up to modern coding standards. Either Mozilla have lost all their skilled programmers or he's lying.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      FAIL

      I coded my own RSS feed fetcher which converts feeds to local HTML pages in just a few lines of Python so I am also mystified why Mozilla is struggling.

      I guess taking data and simply presenting it in a different format just isn't enough for them these days.

    2. A.P. Veening

      RSS difficult

      "Either Mozilla have lost all their skilled programmers or he's lying."

      Why "either ... or"? I strongly suspect both parts of the statement to be true.

  9. technoise

    If major browsers have a feature, then it's an entry point for newcomers and novices to the web. If major browsers don't carry RSS, how are people going to get to know of its existence?

    I have just got back into RSS after a long time away, and now I hear about this. It's very disheartening. This is an empowering, disintermediating technology, that puts the user in control, and at the centre of the world of their interests. However I can see that this would mean that there it would be of limited interest for the modern, business-oriented world wide web in which the user signs up to a Faustian pact in which they trade convenience for their digital souls. This abandonment of RSS comes at a time when the need for this kind of disintermediation is more needed than ever before.

    Anyway - I will use Live Links till they disappear, and I have Newsboat waiting to take over in my bash shell.

  10. Joe W

    Left that browser long ago

    First my plugins become unsupported (tab groups, among others) and now this.

    Turned to Waterfox, works for me.

  11. batfastad

    tt-rss.org

    Like everyone else, RSS brought me here!

    Since Google killed off Reader I've been running my own ttrss instance and it's great. Does exactly what I need. Might be a good option if you're one of those people who likes spending their spare time running their own sh1t and work time running other peoples'.

  12. Peter X

    Thunderbird

    I could be wrong, but I believe Thunderbird 60 now has improved RSS handling... or something. (googles).

    Okay, there's mention of Thunderbird and RSS here[1], but absolutely no mention of it in Mozilla's own "What's new in Thunderbird 60"[2] blog post. So not much love from Mozilla. :(

    On a separate note, can I no longer include HTML links in el-Reg comments?!!

    [1] https://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2018/08/thunderbird-60-release-features

    [2] https://blog.mozilla.org/thunderbird/2018/08/whats-new-in-thunderbird-60/

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Thunderbird

      As an Opera 12 refugee, I find Thunderbird to be pretty good as a feed reader.

    2. chroot

      Re: Thunderbird

      I use Thunderbird for RSS for many years; I lost the count. I love it that it treats each item as a message that can be marked read (or not), tag it, star it, filter it, etc. I use it for about 50 feeds: news feeds, software release information, status logs from providers, etc

      RSS was improved in Thunderbird 60: you can now tune the update interval for each feed, which is cool: status updates from providers every few minutes, some feeds every few days, etc. It is mentioned as "* NEW Individual feed update interval" on this page:

      https://www.thunderbird.net/en-US/thunderbird/60.0/releasenotes/

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Thunderbird

      AFAIK only Bronze badge commentards can do HTML in their posts since those were introduced. < a> tags work fine for me anyways

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Flame

    I fail to see the problem

    "The feed viewer has its own 'special' XML parser, distinct from the main Firefox one, and has not had a significant update in styling or functionality in the last seven years"

    It's an RSS feed, it works fine and there is no need for updating the styling.

    As for functionality, bloody hell why is it that everything has to get more functionality ? When it works, it's good enough - leave it alone. Adding more functionality is called feature creep and is a sickness that has killed many a product's usefullness. You don't add functionality for the sake of adding it, you add the functionality you need and you stop when you have what you need.

    Somebody get a cluebat, I feel the need for some percussive education.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I fail to see the problem

      "Somebody get a cluebat, I feel the need for some percussive education."

      same here (except for the word 'feel', heh)

  14. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Tiny Tiny RSS

    Is all you need. Nice Android app too. https://tt-rss.org/

    Don't rely on some outside company, stick it on your server and rest easy. Some Web hosts even have autoinstallers.

  15. Elmer Phud Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I'll miss seeing the Reg's arse

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Charles Calthrop

    depressing

    i thought the web would be this open, positive egalitarian platform. instead we're being siloed off into isolated partitions on huge multinational's platforms

  18. LateAgain

    Plus one for the reading this via rss

    Admittedly on a phone

  19. tekHedd

    Well, that's a shame, but...

    I've always used standalone readers; I don't even know what the built-in reader looks like in FF. RSS is the awesome (or Atom, sure, I don't care, it's a protocol.)

    At this point, RSS is the only way I can really handle El Reg, as it's just too much effort to scan through the news now that it is algorithmically sorted in order of... I honestly have no idea how the editors decide what I will be interested in but it's hit-and-miss and I now really can't be bothered to read past the top headlines on the official web site.

  20. David Austin

    Done with Firefox

    Over the last year, I've fallen out of love with Firefox: Ever since they launched Quantum with an incomplete API set so a whole subset of simple extensions (coincidentally, all the ones I use) just can't be made.

    It's been one year since the code switch, and toolbars are still on the "TBD" List

    Then they pulled that little Mr. Robot stunt.

    Then they scooped up testers DNS Results

    Then they caved to Symantec on the certificate removal

    All the while removing every USP (Customisation, Add-Ons, Privacy) their browser has, and turning it into a Knock-off version of Chrome.

    At this point, a mix of Chrome and Edge provide a much more stable, pleasant web experience; After 14 years of use, time to say a not so fond farewell to Firefox.

    1. Snake

      Re: Done with Firefox

      I can't, and indeed I switched back to Firefox on Android, both due to NoScript. With Google imposing tracking everywhere, especially calling home from within Chrome, I can't give up Firefox with NoScript without due cause.

  21. Temmokan

    Oh yes, usual universal answer, "nobody uses that, so why we care".

    The actual reason was already mentioned - RSS/Atom/other syndications would allow getting data without actually visiting tracking/ads-stuffed sites. So why those Googles-Schmoogles let that exist?

  22. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Unhappy

    They can talk to the Thunderbird guys...

    RSS works just fine there.

    Just create a new "feed account", then you can subscribe to all the RSS feeds you want.

    I'm sure the Firefox "devs" consider the Thunderbird developers below them, and not worthy.

  23. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. It's just not very popular

    it's a classic piece of bullshit, like with banks: we're closing branches, because they're much less popular, people prefer to bank online. Well, they are less popular, because you FUCKERS CLOSED A LOT OF BRANCHES TO FORCE PEOPLE TO BANK ONLINE IN ORDER TO REDUCE YOUR COSTS, YOU CUNTS.

    I bet higher taxes also prove popular, given that 99% pay them, and not that many people decide on "alternative arrangments".

  25. DrXym Silver badge

    Feedbro

    It's an extension for Firefox. It's MUCH better than the integrated and rather crappy RSS bookmarks anyway since it opens a nice 3-pane window where you can arrange all your feeds and preview them.

    I'm not sure where the hate for Firefox comes from BTW. It's extensible so there is little reason to encumber it with things if they can be done by an extension.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Feedbro

      @DrXym

      A lot of recent "hatred" comes because a lot of extensions no longer work, and will not be able to work, as new extension model has reduced functionality available to extension writers.

      All my most used FF extensions do not work on recent FF (dishwasher tab)

      I now use FF alternatives such as PaleMoon, WaterFox, which still support extensions with functionality I need

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Feedbro

        Correction - a lot of unmaintained addons no longer work. And as you say, if you need to use them, then there are browser forks where you can do it.

        Of course your fork will have worse performance than the mainline because the reason Firefox changed to WebExtensions was so it could run across processes for better security and performance. The old API assumed the entire UI was single threaded which is no longer the case.

  26. Ryan 7

    This isn't the 0.01% that I wanted to be part of.

  27. Panicnow

    Corporates pushing everyone to FaceBook etc

    RSS could be configured to provide real-time notification of new items in a non-proprietary way. However, corporates have systematically refused to use RSS in creative ways and pushed users to Facebook, Twitter etc.

    RSS can just point to a web page, so no loss of control or ads, (unlike FB and T of course)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I wanted to use a browser with a steadily dwindling feature set, I'd use Gnome's Epiphany. Or Edge. Thanks upthread for the tip on Waterfox, looks like something worth checking out. As for news readers, unfortunately I'm one of those few particularly unimaginative types who gets confused by its interface. Not that it would matter, since it runs like molasses on my "budget" Moto E from 2015 (yes, old and _cheap_ UNIX guy here).

  29. davidddd

    The Livemarks addon provide the same functionality as the built in functionality. Just switched to it and have the same experience (I used Live Bookmarks on the Bookmarks Toolbar).

  30. Glen Turner 666

    RSS also useful for enterprises

    An interesting choice because RSS is very useful for enterprise applications. It's the easiest way to get "dashboard summaries" into people's browsers (for things like Top Ten open issues, or unread phone messages). So by removing these features Mozilla is pushing their users towards IM clients like Slack.

  31. K.o.R
    Windows

    I use Thunderbird to view feeds, but it's a pain because you can't easily set login cookies so sites like Twitter constantly bug me about "this post may contain sensitive information".

    Unfortunately I haven't found a better program, though that QuiteRSS looks interesting (I'm not too bothered about the mail capabilities of Thunderbird; Mail is always running in the background anyway).

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