Sputnik: My new favorite RSS reader

The past week, I got my hands on Sputnik which is quickly turning out to be my primary RSS reader for all the right reasons. It’s no Google Reader, but that may be the best part. It’s simple, intuitive, requires no installation, and I can take my reader on a thumb drive if necessary. All excellent reasons to give this a try.

As of this post, I’m on version 1.0.2.

The interface

Sputnik Start

Sputnik Start

I like how very uncluttered the interface is. Adding a feed is very simple: You just click “+ add feed” in the top left hand corner and you’ll be greeted with the add feed page.

Adding a feed seems to be intuitive.

Adding a feed seems to be intuitive.

Just past the URL of the website and it should automatically discover the feed. Of course, some sites have weird setups that require you to manually copy and past the RSS feed URL.

Just past the URL of the website and it should automatically discover the feed. Of course, some sites have weird setups that require you to manually copy and past the RSS feed URL.

Bells and whistles

Back on the home page, there are more options.

There of course other settings to explore...

There of course other settings to explore…

This is probably the first section that saw the most action. I like to keep things neat and tidy so being able to organize the feeds was much appreciated.

...like organizing your feeds to folders. For a mild-OCD case like me, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, it doesn't allow you to sort alphabetically, which I hope gets resolved in a future version.

…like organizing your feeds to folders. For a mild-OCD case like me, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow you to sort alphabetically, which I hope gets resolved in a future version.

Adding a new tag

And then in the same “more” settings, you can organize your tags. I haven’t really explored this option much yet.

These tags can be added to each article on the bottom of your feed, but you do have to enter them one by one. I hope future versions will include a comma separated option so I can enter tags in one shot.

Adding a new tag. Each article has this option.

Adding a new tag. Each article has this option.

I made the mistake of adding multiple tags at once thinking that was allowed. You do need to enter them one by one, but it's easy to remove tags. Just click on "tags" again and click the one you want to remove.

I made the mistake of adding multiple tags at once thinking that was allowed. You do need to enter them one by one, but it’s easy to remove tags. Just click on “tags” again and click the one you want to remove.

In the “more” settings, you also have the option to import or export feeds.

Importing and exporting feeds

Importing and exporting feeds

Exporting a feed puts it in OPML format which makes it compatible with a wide variety of readers.

Exporting a feed puts it in OPML format which makes it compatible with a wide variety of readers.

Here’s the OPML output of my current list of feeds

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<opml version="1.0">
  <head>
    <title>Subscriptions from Sputnik</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <outline title="Tech" text="Tech">
      <outline text="Ars Technica" title="Ars Technica" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/" htmlUrl="http://arstechnica.com"/>
      <outline text="Slashdot" title="Slashdot" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://rss.slashdot.org/Slashdot/slashdot" htmlUrl="http://slashdot.org/"/>
      <outline text="Hubski" title="Hubski" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://hubski.com/rss" htmlUrl="http://hubski.com/"/>
      <outline text="dzone.com: latest front page" title="dzone.com: latest front page" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://www.dzone.com/links/feed/frontpage/rss.xml" htmlUrl="http://www.dzone.com/links/"/>
      <outline text="The Hacker News" title="The Hacker News" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://thehackernews.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss" htmlUrl="http://thehackernews.com/"/>
      <outline text="Techdirt." title="Techdirt." type="rss" xmlUrl="http://www.techdirt.com/techdirt_rss.xml" htmlUrl="http://www.techdirt.com/"/>
      <outline text="Wired Top Stories" title="Wired Top Stories" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://feeds.wired.com/wired/index" htmlUrl="http://www.wired.com"/>
      <outline text="The Verge -  All Posts" title="The Verge -  All Posts" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://www.theverge.com/rss/index.xml" htmlUrl="http://www.theverge.com/"/>
    </outline>
    <outline title="News" text="News">
      <outline text="Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News &amp; Analysis" title="Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News &amp; Analysis" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://www.washingtonpost.com/rss/homepage" htmlUrl="http://www.washingtonpost.com?wprss=rss_homepage"/>
      <outline text="NYT &gt; Home Page" title="NYT &gt; Home Page" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/nyt/HomePage.xml" htmlUrl="http://www.nytimes.com/pages/index.html?partner=rss&amp;emc=rss"/>
    </outline>
    <outline title="Design" text="Design">
      <outline text="Design daily news" title="Design daily news" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://feeds2.feedburner.com/DailyDesignerNews" htmlUrl="http://www.designer-daily.com"/>
      <outline text="pencil talk | pencil reviews and discussion" title="pencil talk | pencil reviews and discussion" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://www.penciltalk.org/feed" htmlUrl="http://www.penciltalk.org"/>
      <outline text="Designer News Feed" title="Designer News Feed" type="rss" xmlUrl="https://news.layervault.com/?format=rss" htmlUrl="https://news.layervault.com/"/>
      <outline text="Inspiration Hut - Everything Art and Design" title="Inspiration Hut - Everything Art and Design" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://feeds.inspirationhut.net/inspirationhut" htmlUrl="http://inspirationhut.net"/>
    </outline>
    <outline title="Cabin" text="Cabin">
      <outline text="Tiny House Blog" title="Tiny House Blog" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://tinyhouseblog.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://tinyhouseblog.com"/>
      <outline text="Tiny House Talk - Small Spaces More Freedom" title="Tiny House Talk - Small Spaces More Freedom" type="rss" xmlUrl="http://tinyhousetalk.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://tinyhousetalk.com"/>
    </outline>
  </body>
</opml>

More bits and bobs

At the bottom of interface back on the front page, there are additional details and settings.

More details at the bottom of the front page.

More details at the bottom of the front page.

 

About Sputnik. That's right, it's GPL licensed "Donationware"

About Sputnik. That’s right, it’s GPL licensed “Donationware”

Keyboard shortcuts. I hope in future versions, these are customizable. The right click page forwarding really threw me off at first.

Keyboard shortcuts. I hope in future versions, these are customizable. The right click page forwarding really threw me off at first.

Everything that comes in the package can be moved (when the app is not running) to another location so this makes the whole thing very portable. The articles are stored in a single database that I’m guessing is SQLite, although, I wasn’t able to open it using the SQLite Manager plugin for Firefox. The rest of the settings are stored as JSON.

There are a few rough edges here and there, but those are not big deals. The reader does limit the amount of content shown on the interface itself and the rest of the text content gets truncated. You do need to view the rest on the site itself. I hope future versions address these limitations.

All in all, I’m really pleased with this and I think I’ll be keeping it as my primary reader.

2 thoughts on “Sputnik: My new favorite RSS reader

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