You are building it for a million people

Earlier I blogged a feature guide for building a new RSS feed reader application.

You might be wondering “But, who uses RSS readers anyway?” if you are new to RSS.

I think RSS is a classic technology. It doesn’t get spoken about much. It feels like people are using it in silent or people aren’t using it at all. Because it feels relatively technical to setup RSS than setting up any other news app. For example, people may feel comfortable to install news app, rather than pick up the RSS link from the news website and load it into an RSS reader. You might disapprove, “how technical is copy pasting a link into an app?” but people might not be aware of this thing called RSS itself as news sites don’t advertise it as much as their mobile phone apps.

I tried to prototype / work on an RSS reader after my initial blogs post. After a night of hacking and learning interesting new web technologies (React + Redux), I lost some time of sleep and this question somehow started popping up to me.

Who are our audience? For whom am I building for? Will anyone ever use it? Can I get a number of RSS feed reader users somewhere? What should I be doing to gain more knowledge on this topic?

Twitter space

I tweeted before about my RSS feature guide and got back one response!

Quite amazed to see the frequency here. So people are actually interested in building RSS readers!

Email space

I emailed Tim Bray to get feedback on working on a new RSS feed reader and got back a response!

If you don’t know Tim Bray: He is one of the co-authors of the original XML specification, which is the underlying technology of RSS and also he was involved with the development of Atom web syndication. Also one of my favorite bloggers out there!

So, my guess was that he should be using an RSS reader for a really long time and went ahead in asking him feedback.

To my surprise, he replied a few minutes. It was a short and “got to learn awesome stuff” type of mail.

Most importantly He introduced me to Brent Simmons Who had been creating this awesome RSS reader for the Apple ecosystem called the NetNewsWire. I went through most of his literature on RSS readers. I would very much like to re-read them again. It really puts the vibe for the stuff I want to do.


Feedly is probably the best RSS reader out there right now. I myself spend a lot of time with it these days. At least an hour or more than that. Both on browser and mobile clients. It feels modern!

It has some nice features. One of them is ability to see how many people are actually following an RSS feed of a particular website inside Feedly. Adding the “Follower count” game to RSS, hah! But I suppose it’s intention is to show the genuiness of a blog.

For example: A popular technology website “Engadget” has about 1.6 Million followers.


Woah, wait. 1.6 Million? :boom:

I think, it is a great user number and it is a proof that millions of people are interested in using RSS. If you are working on an RSS feed reader app and if it takes off well, it end up a daily habit of millions of people. So while building it, build it with care and love :)

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Remember again and always: you are building it for a million people!