Developers: Free Project Idea. Please Make This.

Loren BurtonFebruary 07, 2011

A few days ago I discovered the power of RSS. Yes, I know I'm about 5 years behind the rest of the world, but that's okay. Because it looks like web-based RSS readers are right here with me. Upon learning about RSS readers and what they could do, I briefly googled around to see what I could dig up. I found Google Reader and was not impressed. It works, but it's ugly and not exactly pleasant to use. I couldn't see myself using Google Reader on a regular basis, so I began my search for some alternatives. I found some, but was still not impressed. I even made a post on Hacker News without very much of a response. Feedly is the best web-based RSS reader I've come across and it even has a Chrome/FF extension, but it still kind of sucks. I wouldn't use it.. Helvetireader is the best implementation I've seen, and it's built right on top of Google Reader. Really, it's just a stylesheet, but sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. Very nice, Helvetireader.

I lost hope and decided to give up my search for the perfect web-based RSS reader. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't exist. On a whim, I browsed iPad RSS readers in the App Store to see what they had to offer. As expected, every single one of them was excellent, with gorgeous UIs and beautiful design. Why don't these exist for browsers? On second thought, why do almost all iPad apps surpass web apps in terms of usability and design? You don't have to have a 9.7" touch screen to make an app that just works.

Inspired by the iPad RSS apps, I got to thinking. It sucks when this happens, because I just can't stop once I get started. My mind is like a snowball. I came up with a rough idea of what I would build if I were to build this. It's not only an RSS reader, but somewhere between a dashboard / home screen / RSS reader / bookmarking app. I want the latest news and updates from my favorite blogs and I want a clean interface for my bookmarks, so I can go right where I want to go. This is what I want to see every time I open my browser:

Note: the design is just a rough concept mockup. An actual implementation of this concept should probably be a little more thought out, with more screen real estate given to the RSS feed as it would be the primary focus.

There you go, I already did the design work for you. I even planned out the user interface and functionality. Here's how it would work:

  1. Header. This is where you would have links to settings, tags, search, manage bookmarks, manage RSS, etc. Maybe even a clock and a date. Make it welcoming.

  2. Bookmarks. * These should actually be much smaller that pictured * Maybe it would sync with an existing bookmarking service, maybe it would be standalone. Drag bookmarks to rearrange them. When you hover over a bookmark icon, it tells you the name of the website and has an "X" to remove. There would be three states for bookmarks: standard, all, and hidden. Standard is what you see here - two rows of your most visited bookmarks. All and hidden are self explanatory, but use some JQuery UI to slide between the different states. It should be nice to use and interact with.

  3. RSS feed. * As the primary focus, these should have much more screen real estate than pictured * Sync with Google Reader, because they already did all of the programming for you and it would make migrating easy for new users. Again, three states here: standard, all, and hidden. Basically the same functionality as above with JQuery UI to switch between states. Headlines and sources for only - keep it simple. Clicking a headline opens a full article - JQuery effects again.

So there you have it. The design and the functionality. All you have to do is write the code and share the project with the world. It probably wouldn't take you savvy developers more than a weekend to hack together. I will make this if nobody else does, but I'm busy for at least the next month or two. It's dead simple, but if this existed I would use it every single day. If you plan on making this, please let me know. I want to see what you come up with. If not - tell your friends. Somebody needs to make this.