Fever + Sunstroke = A great RSS reading experience

Google Reader is “retiring” next week. Like many I have been looking for a replacement. Feedly is a service I have been using and quite like. However I also took the opportunity to experiment with a feed reader that I’ve heard about for years called Fever.

fever fluid

Developed by Shaun Inman, Fever is a web app, not a desktop app. I like it so much that its made me enjoy RSS again and relegated Feedly to my backup RSS reader.

Why Fever is awesome

Hot Links

Traditional RSS readers get crowded and overwhelming when you subscribe to a lot of feeds. With Fever, it actually reads your feeds and compiles the most frequently talked about links into a Hot Links page. So the more links you follow, the better Fever gets.

My RSS feeds in Fever

Click to embiggen

I wondered how well this would work. I’m glad to say it works great. Fever constantly shows me the top Apple and WordPress news: exactly the news I want to see.

Emphasis on New, not Unread

Many feed readers show you an unread count. Fever disables this by default to spare you from the guilt of not keeping up with all your feeds. But if for example I wantto see the unread count so that I don’t miss important updates, I can enable unread counts for specific groups or feeds. So now my important feed doesn’t get lost in all my other feeds, and stands out with an unread count.

Web based, with open API

Being a web app, I can access my feeds everywhere on any device. All I need to do is to login to it with a web browser, and it has an iPhone-optimized interface too.

sunstroke

Because Fever has an API, you can also sync and cache your feeds for offline reading with 3rd party apps like the popular Reeder app. There are also Fever-specific apps like Sunstroke (which is the one I use) and Ashes that support Fever’s features like Hot Links and save items.

Quick aside: Sunstroke is a great app. It’s quick and responsive, and its design makes reading a pleasure. Sunstroke also makes it easy to share what you’ve read to Twitter, Facebook, Evernote and lots of other services. Well worth the $5 price tag.

Not for everyone

Despite all the great features of Fever, it’s not for everyone.

Costs $30

The fact that Fever costs money will make it a non-starter for many. Although, as Google Reader has shown us, free isn’t always the best option. If you want more control over your RSS reader, $30 isn’t a big price to pay.

Self-hosted

Fever isn’t a service you sign up for – you have to install it on your own web server and you’ll need a domain name too. This will put Fever out of reach for many who are less geeky. However if you have installed WordPress or a similar PHP-based application before, you shouldn’t have trouble installing Fever. Fever’s requirements are modest, so it will fit on even the most budget hosting plans e.g. A Small Orange’s Tiny plan ($35/year).

Little or no support

Fever is targeted at the more technical audience, the kind who can troubleshoot problems on their own. Therefore there isn’t much support for Fever, not even a forum or Get Satisfaction page. That being said, Fever is a solid product developed by a veteran web developer. You’re unlikely to run into a bug, but if you’re not a geek and new to web servers you won’t find much help.

Bottom Line

Fever makes subscribing and managing your RSS feeds enjoyable again. Together with Sunstroke, I think it’s better than Google Reader. However it’s upfront costs and required skills means that it’s not for everyone. Make sure you are sure about Fever before you buy.

See also

Official Fever website – watch the How Fever Works video for a detailed overfiew of the app.

Why and How I use Fever – Anthony Drendel

How Anyone can Install Fever in Ten Minutes – Macstories



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