Snackr is a Software Replacement for Google Reader

Google Reader is going away. You have, by now, heard that Google is shutting down its popular Reader program. There are countless programs jumping forward to take the place of the the soon to be departed RSS reader. While Google’s mostly unsupported, at least recently, app is web-based, not all of the alternatives are.

There are both software and web apps that can fill the void, but many are under heavy traffic right now, so do not judge them by the way they currently work. In fact, the one I chose gave me a message upon sign-up that I was almost 47,000 down in the upload queue for my OPML file. After four days, I remain more than 7,000 behind and waiting.

However, that is not my only option, and I intend to test multiple sources for a replacement to my beloved Reader app, and I am looking at both web and desktop-based solutions. First up is a software program called Snackr. I am not sure I want to go with a desktop-based solution, but I am willing to try it.

The developers describe Snackr as “an RSS ticker that pulls random items from your feeds and scrolls them across your desktop. When you see a title that looks interesting, you can click on it to pop up the item in a window”.

Snackr Setup

If you do not have Adobe Air Runtime then you will need to grab that first. Snackr promises that The Adobe AIR runtime will be installed when you install Snackr, but I would recommend grabbing it first just to avoid potential installation and set up problems that you could incur.

Once installed you get a number options for setting up the service. The options list includes the choices listed below.

Options:

  • Random Feeds
  • Google Reader Sync
  • OPML upload

Since Google Reader is going away and I have no need to view random feeds, that leaves us with using an OPML file. To do so, you will need to first visit Google Takeout and export your data.

Click “Choose services” and scroll across to find the Google Reader listing and click on it. Choose “Create Archive” to begin downloading your file — it comes as an XML, but that is compatible with OPML, so there is no need to worry about this.

The file needs to be unzipped before you can go any further. Once that is done then you can import the OPML file into Snackr.

Choose to import an OPML file and then navigate to your unzipped folder. Inside of here you will need to drill down into the included folders and find the “Subscription” file, then set it as the one to import.

How It Works

Snackr is a bit different from the average RSS reader — both desktop and web based. It does not open in a web browser, but it also is not really a traditional software program. Instead the app appears as a type of news ticker at the bottom of your screen. The latest news scrolls continuously across the screen and hovering over a story pauses it. You can then click that story to launch it.

Settings

The import may take a bit of time, depending on the size of the files — mine was just over 5 MB and took a couple of minutes, and that was for hundreds of feeds.

As you can see from the above screenshot, I did have some issues with certain feeds, but most did actually work just fine and there was a constant scrolling of information across the bottom of my screen.

The Feeds tab allows you to add and remove RSS feeds, plus import and export entire files of them.

The Google Reader tab gives you the option to enter your Google account credentials in order to sync the service with Google Reader. Given that its going away, this is likely simply a waste of your time.

Preferences provides all of the customability here. This where you can control exactly how the app behaves and looks on your computer.

Options Include:

  • Ticker Opacity
  • Ticker Speed
  • Keep Snackr in front of other windows
  • Show in task bar and alt-tab menu
  • Minimize to system tray (Windows) dock (Mac)
  • Automatically start Snackr at login
  • Don’t show items older than — 30 days is the default, but can be changed
  • Automatically check for updates

Finally, there is the obligatory “About” section. Like most software apps this shows all of the information about the app, including documentation, update information and a lot more.

Conclusion

I am not convinced that Snackr is a true replacement for Google Reader. As I said before, I want to look at both desktop and web-based solutions, and I am for from being done with this — I do have until July 1 after all.

It is certainly a neat little app, and provides real-time data with the feeds scrolling across the bottom of your desktop screen at all times, but for someone who need to be able to really look at the news, as I do for a living, then it may not be the ideal solution. If you do not have hundreds of feeds in your RSS library then this could be a fun little app. If you rely on RSS for a living then you will likely need more of a permanent, easier to scroll, solution.

In the end, if you are looking for a Reader replacement, then this probably is not it. If you are only following a few feeds and want an easy way to view them then you are in luck here. Snackr is all about what you need.


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