Self-hosted web apps are a great option if you’re worried about your favorite service going offline. Google Reader’s shutdown has made that potential painfully obvious, and yet, most of the best alternate RSS services are still hosted apps that could be shutdown on a whim. Or, if they’re hosted on Amazon S3 like so many services are these days, they’ll go offline along with a significant portion of your apps if Amazon has a bad day.
JellyReader is a new, simple RSS reader app that, while not self-hosted yet, is designed to make sure you can never lose your RSS reader data. Instead of trusting someone else’s cloud with your data, it stores your feeds and saved articles in your Dropbox or Google Drive account.
Here’s how it works: you sign in with your Dropbox or Google account and approve it as an app that can store data in a specific folder. That done, you’ll need to add your feeds individually — there’s no option to import an OPML file of feeds, or any social tools to help you discover feeds like you’d find in apps like throttle. But that’s not too much trouble if you only have a few feeds, and enjoy the streamlined feed reading that JellyReader brings.
The reading experience, again, is very basic but nice. You’ll be able to see all your unread articles together, or browse through them feed-by-feed if you’d like. The article reading view looks nice, with your full articles rendered with images and anything else they might include, and the first image from the articles showing up as a featured image in the article picker. There’s no social sharing options, but there is an Star option to save articles for reading later in the app.
What’s most interesting about the app is that it stores your feed data in your own personal Dropbox or Google Drive account, so you can never lose your feeds and favorited articles. You can find each feed entry and saved article as an individual plain text file in your account, with the article title and link in plain text and the article content in base64 encoded HTML — a choice that only makes it somewhat accessible if you’re not using the app. But in the near future, the team plans to release a self-hosted version of JellyReader to make sure your data is always accessible and readable.
Powering all this is the new NimbusBase platform, a new backend designed to help developers make apps that can store data on their users’ own Dropbox or Google Drive accounts, with more storage options coming in the near future. It’s an ambitious idea that treats your personal online storage like your private hard drive, one that — if it became prevalent — could mean that you’d never have to worry about losing data from web apps again. Instead, they’d all save your files in your favorite online storage where you save the rest of your files.
The NimbusBase team has so far made Taskstrike, a demo task management app built, and of course JellyReader on their platform, both of which show how neat of an idea this could be for the future of online storage. But JellyReader is also a neat simple feed reader on its own, one you should try out if you’re worried about losing your feed reader data again — or just want something very simple focused on feed reading.