Monday, 17 December 2007

feed the world

Yet another modest-post. We received a lot of feature requests and a handful of bugs after our repeated requests. We're working hard on fixing the bugs, and let's see what we can do with the feature requests. It's not easy to find the right balance between keeping things simple and, on the other hand, adding features that people ask for. Being a long-time mutt and emacs user, I have some troubles keeping things simple & easy. But hey, nobody said it was easy.

Let's discuss something that I found quite useful: reading feeds with modest.

I like reading feeds; whenever I need to wait for something (e.g. waiting for the food during a romantic dinner), I like to read something interesting - software, science, culture, whatever. Now, while there is a feedreader on my N810, obviously I'd prefer to use modest for that.

Well, that's perfectly possible using feed2imap. I am assuming a Ubuntu/Debian system here, but it should work for other systems as well, mutatis mutandis.


  • install feed2imap and libopenssl-ruby on your system;
  • create a ~/.feed2imaprc file, it should look something like this (assuming you're using Gmail/IMAP):

    feeds:
    - name: Planet Maemo
    url: http://maemo.org/news/planet-maemo/rss.xml
    target: imaps://someuser%40gmail.com:somepassword@imap.gmail.com/feeds/software
    - name: Ririan Project
    url: http://ririanproject.com/feed/
    target: imaps://someuser%40gmail.com:somepassword@imap.gmail.com/feeds/misc
    - name: Boing Boing
    url: http://www.boingboing.net/atom.xml
    target: imaps://someuser%40gmail.com:somepassword@imap.gmail.com/feeds/misc
    - name: ScienceDaily Headlines
    url: http://www.sciencedaily.com/newsfeed.xml
    target: imaps://someuser%40gmail.com:somepassword@imap.gmail.com/feeds/science

    Obviously, you'll have to change the username/password;
  • Note: if your are already using a different feedreader (such as Liferea), you can export your existing feedlist to an .opml-file. You can then convert this to a config file for feed2imap:
    $ feed2imap-opmlimport ~/feedlist.opml > ~/.feed2imaprc

    (you'll have to hand-edit it a bit as above)

That's it! Now you can periodically run feed2imap, and you'll always have something interesting in your mailbox.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes! Exactly what I am trying to do. Only I want modest to download and cache the items so I can read them offline. Modest doesn't seem to retrieve unread message bodies.

Erik said...

I updated to OS2008 to try out Modest, but alas
it doesn't seem to behave well with my 45,000 message GMail inbox. :-( It just ends up being too slow to be usable, even when set to only download the most recent 200 messages. (It would be nice if there was an option to only download recent messages in the initial setup dialog as I suspect that many gmail users have this problem.)

Ideally I'd like to be able to just download
full message bodies for email that matches
a set of labels/folders but download nothing
or headers only for other labels/folders.
(My usage would be occasional offline reading of recent messages while on the subway and thus I don't need all old messages.)

Thanks for letting us try this out! I look forward to trying future versions.
I wish I could get further to provide more feedback.

(I read all of my work/non-personal-non-gmail mail in "emacs mh-e" so I may not be a normal user, either. ;-)

As to your RSS comment, it would be nifty if Google Reader provided an IMAP interface.

djcb said...

@anonymous: by default, modest only downloads headers, but you can change that in the account settings.

@erik: yup, there are there some performance probs with really big inboxes like the the one you have... we're looking into the issue:
https://bugs.maemo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=2555
hopefully, something can be done.