Twelve months can be a quick flyby if you don’t stop to write everything down. Luckily, a habit I’ve kept since July 2009, when I started recording monthly goals for my project, is still going strong.
This gives me the opportunity to review everything that we’ve accomplished in the past year. There were numerous new features, about half of which were created as a result of feedback from the community. You asked for it, I found the time.
It’s been a pretty good cycle that looks like it’s going to keep going for years.
Premium accounts are keeping NewsBlur alive
At only a $1/month, nearly 800 people have subscribed to NewsBlur. Not much of it goes back to me, since the servers, between the eight of them, cost $650 every month. But that gap is increasing and my prediction is that these servers should be good for more than a doubling of traffic.
Social is coming
In October Google Reader dropped its social features and there was an enormous influx of new users. Unfortunately, NewsBlur doesn’t have any social features that could be considered a replacement for the community lost in the Reader sunsetting.
But that’s changing soon. There’s only a couple more weeks of development needed before the Social branch is ready for beta testers. And I’ll be taking feedback on the changes, iterating until sharebro communities are able to form. It’ll be a great time, watching a favorite service evolve into a social community.
If you’re a developer, you might enjoy watching the development of NewsBlur on GitHub.
The biggest features built this year were the River of News, the iPhone app, and the API. There were tons of other big features, but these three top the list for their importance.
- River of News - read all stories in a folder
- "Show N hidden stories" button
- Bookmarklet - browser bookmark that allows you to subscribe to a site from the site itself
- Favicon fetching and color decomposing - the color gradient that matches the site’s favicon.
- New dashboard
- Replicated PostgreSQL - a slave relational DB for redundancy
- Firefox browser extension - handles RSS feeds by forwarding them to NewsBlur
- Fabric scripts - bootstrapping new servers now takes 5 minutes vs. 3 hours
- Hiding the sidebar - hit the
- Recommended sites - built entirely to be able to link to the hilarious Ten Sexy Ladies
- New logo - actually, a logo, period.
- Inline classifiers - click on an author or tag in the Feed view
- Create a new folder directly from the bookmarklet
- The NewsBlur API
- Hide and show story changes - see the story being modified after being published
- Graphs on the dashboard
- Upgraded to Django 1.3
- Feed fetch histories in Site Statistics
- Send story by email - the original social network
- Community feedback on the dashboard
- The tutorial - built because blogger Louis Gray didn’t easily grasp how to get started with NewsBlur, and he’s an early adopter, so good luck to any regular users without the help of a tutorial
- Prototype mobile site - using jQuery UI, was a disaster in terms of performance
- Took a 2 week long vacation to the Yucatan
- Account dialog
- Major work on the iPhone app
- the iPhone app work continues
- Python API
- Major speed-ups in feed loading and fetching
- Submit the iPhone app to the App Store - still version 1.0, not polished enough to launch
- New users and new premium users now get emailed a pretty template
- Allowing the moving of the story titles pane - detailed on the blog
- iPhone App version 1.1 - adding sites from the app
- Planning out Social - see the blog post
- Mark story as unread - #1 feature request since 2010
- Move to folder - moving folders and sites to other folders without having to drag-and-drop.
- Sharing stories - added Pinboard and Google+
- Site settings - change a site’s feed address
- Launched the iPhone App - polished enough at version 1.2
- MongoDB is now replicated - for higher availability
- Lots of backend changes to account for increased load - increased speed with more load using better code
You can follow updates in real-time on Twitter by following both @samuelclay and @newsblur. Lots more to come.
Keep the feedback, ideas, praise, and bugs coming. I couldn’t do this without the external motivation coming from dozens of your voices talking about NewsBlur.