Friday, November 16, 2007

Google Reader is a slow, limpy, sedated way to read news

So I subscribe to the feed containing this item, and 46 minutes after it was posted it has still not shown up in my Google Reader account. I only found out about it through a Google News alert RSS feed.

Last week I noticed big delays with other sites in Google Reader.

Perhaps I'm extra sensitive to this because the reader I used to use, which I wrote myself in Perl and which ran on my own server, checked every single feed every single time you brought it up, using conditional HTTP GET requests. I was *never* getting anything other than the latest news from all my feeds (though I did consider inserting code to limit checks to, say, no more than one every 10 minutes).

If Google doesn't have the server resources to fetch feeds on demand so they are never more than 15 minutes out of date, it should create a browser plugin allowing us users to fetch the feeds ourselves on the client side.


V Smoothe said...

Why did you switch?

Ryan said...

Because Google Reader handles large amounts of feed content better, by loading it in parts.

So for work alone I follow 95 feeds, which isn't even that many compared to other people I know. But because my script put all the contents of all the feeds on one page, it was starting choke my browser, even on fast computers.

Rather than take time out from more useful products to improve my system (to not show already-read items, for example, or to paginate the results), I decided just to write some code to export to Google Reader.

Basically that entailed getting my code to export via RSS feeds it creates itself using text patterns (regular expressions), then to export via OPML a list of all RSS feeds, so Google Reader could import my feeds.

This took only about an hour, and worked with very few bugs. Coding the functionality into my Perl modules/scripts would have entailed, jeez, at least four weekends, maybe 40 :-)

Ryan said...

"products" should read "projects"

louisgray said...

Google Reader has recently gotten A LOT faster at picking up feeds, thanks to their picking up on Pings almost immediately, especially when posted from Blogger. I had a similar post drafted, comparing Google Reader's slowness with Spokeo's speed, but they updated, and it's no longer true.

Ryan said...

Louis, Maybe, but right now Google Reader is six posts behind on Eater SF. They linked to a story of mine this morning but I didn't find out until I got the Google Alert on my name. I am guessing they are behind on some other feeds too.

It's all relative. It's probably a fine newsreader for people who aren't reporters or full-time/frequent bloggers and don't need things faster than 2-3 hours after they were posted.

V Smoothe said...

I tried using Google Reader way back when it first appeared, but I found that it didn't seem to be able to handle the large number of feeds I subscribe to. Posts would show up hours or days late even, and sometimes it would like, freeze or something and then erase all my unread posts.

Probably they've improved since then, but I had such a bad experience that I don't know when I'll be ready to try again.