As the internet matures and changes, we tend to leave old things behind that don’t make sense anymore. Change is difficult, especially if you’re changing features and functionality, and cutting out things which don’t make sense anymore. For Firefox, one of those things is the built-in RSS reader, something that I and many others use every day. Firefox has natively supported RSS feeds for many years, but we’ve all noticed how these kinds of services are dying out. Google Reader shut down a few years ago, Apple News went off to do its own thing, and now Firefox’s RSS feeds will go the way of the dodo too.
According to Mozilla’s Bugtracker, three days ago key members of the browser’s development team made the decision to remove the ability to support RSS Feeds and Live Bookmarks. In a blog post on the issue, Mozilla says that the decision wasn’t taken lightly:
“These features had an outsized maintenance and security impact relative to their usage. Making these features as well-tested, modern and secure as the rest of Firefox would have cost significant time and effort, and the usage of these features doesn’t justify such an investment.
Usage data from Firefox shows that 99.9% of our users don’t actually use either the feed viewer or live bookmarks. Furthermore, the usage of feeds outside of Firefox doesn’t justify it, either – RSS/Atom has been slowly losing popularity, and various tools and companies have dropped support years ago (Apple Mail, Google Reader, …), stopped existing if they were focused on feeds (e.g. FeedDemon) or changed focus (e.g. NetVibes).”
For those of you who still use Firefox (all 11% of you as of last month), maybe you’re now wondering what alternatives you can use. Firstly, Firefox is an open-source project, so forks of the browser will be able to continue to support RSS feeds natively. Alternatives such as Pale Moon or Waterfox will still offer support for an undetermined amount of time.
When it comes to third-party applications, there are a lot of choices out there. For Windows 10, Newsflow is easily the best client around, especially because it supports syncing across devices. On Linux, Liferea and Feedreader are pretty neat. On the web, some services offer RSS aggregation from multiple websites, and then it’s just a single RSS feed that you need to sign up for – Feedbin and feedly are both decent services. On macOS, Reeder seems decently popular.