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Zombie Reader: How the Corpse of Google Reader Can Let You Browse Your Archived Google Reader Data

zombie google readerWhen I showed you last week that you could download a copy of everything you’d ever seen in Google Reader, I didn’t think there could be anything better than having a huge volume of old data to sift through.

Yesterday I found out I was wrong.

Mihai Parparita, the developer who originally gave us the tools to download a personal Google Reader archive, is back again with an even better trick. He downloaded and modified a copy of the Google Reader website (the HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc.) so it can be used to browse your archive of Google Reader data.

As you can see from this screenshot, it looks just like the real thing:

zombie google reader

Mihai explained more in his blog post:

A side effect is that I now have a self-contained Reader installation that I’ll be able to refer to years from now, when my son asks me how I spent my mid-20s. It also satisfies my own nostalgia kicks, like knowing what my first read item was. In theory I could also use this approach to build a proxy that exposes Reader’s API backed by (say) NewsBlur’s, and thus keep using the Reader UI to read current feeds. Beyond the technical issues (e.g. impedance mismatches, since NewsBlur doesn’t store read or starred state as tags, or has per item tags in general) that seems like an overly backwards-facing option. NewsBlur has its own distinguishing features (e.g. training and "focus" mode)2, and forcing it into a semi-functional Reader UI would result in something that is worse than either product.

Zombie Reader can be downloaded from Mihai’s website,

Just to be clear, it cannot be used to browse any current news reader service, and that is probably a good thing. As much as I liked the Google Reader service, I have to admit that the website design needed work. It was not the best tool for reading content, and the overall design needed a little polish. I can only recall Google making a single change to the Google Reader design, and that was when they uglified it so it would look more like Google+.


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