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Paul Hubbard

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Meltdown is an open-source Android client for Fever RSS. This is me trying to solve a personal need: I want a good RSS reader on my new hardware from Google I/O. And that lovely 7" Nexus screen really demands a good feed reader.

It's written for people with lots of RSS feeds, preferably organized into groups, with lots of news items. I also put a lot of effort into the sync code, so you can easily read news in multiple places and not see duplicates.

To use it, you must have an installed copy of Fever server. This is just a client.

Please email me if you want to hack on it; I can always use help as my time is limited.

Current Features

  • Speed. In-memory data structures, with on-disk JSON files for entries; nice and fast. No excess graphical crap, just fast text and listview display. Designed for high-volume consumers of RSS like myself. My #1 goal was to make this super fast.
  • Low battery usage - uses Alarm service and background process to refresh the lists every fifteen minutes, using the 'inexact repeating' mode to avoid excess wakeups.
  • Compressed downloads - if your Apache is configured, it'll transfer the data using gzip compression to save time and bytes.
  • SSL support - as of 0.9.2, the communications code uses HttpURLConnection and thus inherits SSL support. You have to have a working chain of trust (root CA), but it works fine with my seven dollar SSL cert from GoDaddy.
  • Local cache - all items are encoded as JSON and written to disk, so if you reboot or kill the app it won't need to re-pull everything again.
  • HTTP response cache added as of 0.9.1, uses 10MB of disk to speed things up as per Android recommendations.
  • Asynchronous mark-as-read and mark-as-saved using AsyncTask - when you hit 'Next' it's done in the background.
  • In the Item view, in addition to the ususal sharing menu I've also added a tickler-file function. This lets you set a calendar entry to remind yourself in a week (or whenever). I use this to do things like 'Remind me to check this out in a couple weeks when it's due to ship.' Very handy!
  • Uses efficient and secure LocalBroadcastManager to communicate between the background service and the foreground views.
  • No excessive permissions Requires only Internet and 'run in background' permissions, does not use or need any data or other apps. Inspect the code and build it yourself if you like!
  • No phone-home BS. I hate that. So should you. At no time will it ever contact anything other than the server you designate.
  • Read in multiple places - the next sync will remove anything you've already seen, or you can hit refresh manually at any time.
  • Does not have group management or feed management. The Fever API has not added these, and I tend to think they're better done via the Fever web app anyway.
  • Simple flow-oriented interface - Feed title and author at the top of the screen, followed by title and content. The bottom of the screen has the 'load URL' button, the timestamp (using human-readable relative-time strings such as '2 hours ago') and the 'Next' button. Two buttons! Everything else is in the share menu and options menu.

Current status

  • Working code!

Current bugs and in-progress

Future plans and ideas

  • Switch to EventBus for service/activity sync; seems to work well and would solve a set of bugs.
  • Coalesce mark-as-read and do them all at once when the Downloader runs, would help reduce battery usage since every mark will fire up the radio and stack.
  • Swipe gestures - left for save, right for mark-as-read (ideas from Tomas Varil)
  • The ListViews work fine on my nexus7 tablet, and present an info-dense display, but I'd like to try fragments and a landscape-mode, two-column display there. Especially now that the nexus 10 is out.
  • Add favicons to item list - I wrote the code to download the favicons, but am still trying to figure out where they add utility.
  • Use persistent notifications to show background fetches; nice and unobtrusive.
  • More preferences
  • Tabbed interface for unread/read/sparks/kindling/saved

Background information, tools and credits

  • The Fever REST API is elegant, simple and returns either JSON or XML. I can think of no reason to use XML, so JSON it is.
  • The API widget is really helpful for poking at the API and responses. I'm also using this graphical http client as well, which helped me sort out the header needed to get authentication working. The scripts directory has a copy of the widget for convenience.
  • Since I'm developing for the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7, the current target API is 4.0, but it could probably run on older devices. I also develop and test on my Galaxy S3 (Verizon).
  • The code from is copyright 2007 by the Android Open Source Project under the Apache 2.0 license for which I am grateful. The ListItem stuff is poorly documented, so that code was a big help. I used their ListView and excerpt code nearly verbatim.


This code is open source under the CC BY 3.0 terms. I'd appreciate a note if you make use of it, please. Other than that, I'd be pleased if you found it useful either whole or in part.


Android RSS reader for Fever



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