Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Real Newspaper Thumbnails

FeedJournal now creates an authentic thumbnail of the generated newspaper's Page One. An example can be seen in the left column of this blog.

Existing widget users don't need to worry, the functionality has been automatically rolled out and is available to you now. Every time you generate an updated newspaper of your blog, an accompanying thumbnail is generated as well. If you use the widget on your blog, it will automatically find the location of the thumbnail. For those of you who like to write your own HTML code, the image is in the same path as the generated PDF file - just replace the ".pdf" extension with ".png".

This service is available to all FeedJournal users. Users of the free basic service get a thumbnail sized 140x200 pixels, while silver and gold members will have the ability to customize the size (soon to be available). If anyone needs this customization urgently, just give me a shout and I'll get it done sooner.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Linux Compatibility and Smaller PDFs

Marco let me know that he wasn't able to open files generated with FeedJournal on his Linux PDF readers, including Linux-based e-book readers iLiad and Cybook. It turns out that PDF readers running on Windows are more tolerant when parsing the format.

By debugging the problem I found that null characters are appended to the end of the PDF file, making it unnecessarily large and causes problems on Linux. It was an easy fix and everything should now work fine on all operating systems and readers. If you despite this still have problem to open FeedJournal PDF files on a specific piece of software, please let me know. If anyone has an opportunity to try it on the Amazon Kindle reader I would be happy to know the results!

Expect PDF file sizes to shrink by up to a couple of hundred kilobytes with the new code deployed on the web site!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Et Tu, Google?

Google was recently granted a patent on personalized newspapers. Until now, I have been having the market all to my self with FeedJournal, but I welcome the competition. A player like Google can really help to boost the awareness for these kinds of solutions. Yes, I am one person, and Google is somewhat larger than that. But still, I think it is a good sign that FeedJournal-like sites start to pop up. It will increase multitude, and the competition will help to drive the projects forward and prevent stagnation. In the end, users will gain by having better products.

The granting of the patent seems somewhat dubious to me, considering that FeedJournal has been alive and kicking for a long time. The patent could have been a good requirements specification document for FeedJournal.

I am obviously very curious to see where Google is going with this, if they decide to use the patent to build a product. Will they offer both a reader and a publisher version of their product? How will they integrate advertising? They definitely have big potential to integrate many of their existing services into a new solution.

But don’t worry! I’ll continue to put late hours into FeedJournal. Small operations like this one depend heavily on word-of-mouth, since time and resources don’t allow much else in the way of marketing. So please, any mentions of FeedJournal is greatly appreciated. I am grateful and indebted to my small but dedicated group of enthusiastic evangelizers (Joel, Simon, Mike, and many others), who helps me to build a better newspaper.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Reading on Paper vs. on Screen

One of the basic premises behind FeedJournal is that it's better to read text on paper than on a screen. While it might not sound like a bold assumption, it still is an assumption and as such worth to examine deeper.

Today, office workers and many other professionals are required to focus their eyes on a computer screen during most of their work day. Many of them continue to use the computer at home. FeedJournal was created with many goals in mind; one of them is to release you from the screen while enabling you to read the content you love. You shouldn't have to spend more time reading off a screen, just because you want to access fresh and relevant content.

Recent research has found that reading a longer text on paper is 25% faster than reading the same text on a computer screen. At the same time, reading comprehension and article overview are improved.

Although screen resolutions have increased and font rendering technologies such as ClearType make it much easier to read on the screen, the experience is still not as comfortable as when reading on paper.

But the largest problem with reading on the computer is that your attention is constantly being diverted. These diversions come in many forms: an incoming e-mail or an instant message, an ad flashing in the corner of your eye, a teasing hyperlink in the article text, a critical software update alert that pops up, an alert that your laptop battery needs charging, your other browser tabs needing attention, etc, etc. I could go on for a long time listing frequent diversions begging for your mouse click. On top of that is the page navigation required to scroll the text - it doesn't require a rocket scientist but it's still an additional interaction you can't escape from.

The situation gets even grimmer if you choose to read you articles on a mobile device. Not only that you have the same digital diversions as a regular computer user, you will need to make do with a much smaller screen estate.

Readers of text on paper typically concentrate fully on what they're doing, while readers of screen content are either hard at work fighting off distractions or have resigned to giving the text only cursory attention.

It is actually a small wonder that anyone manages to read longer articles on a screen. Which is too bad, considering that the quality and diversity of content has literally exploded with every blogger now being a amateur journalist, publishing content on a more or less regular basis.

In the face of this, how does it sound to you to have a printed newspaper in your hands while sitting in your favorite chair, and just read. I'm not talking about just any newspaper, I am referring to the newspaper you have personally defined, with articles from your favorite sites and blogs. This is what FeedJournal offers, a better chance of keeping your attention on what you choose to read.

With these arguments I am not trying to stop you from reading RSS feeds on the computer or on the go. I do that all the time. I am simply saying that feeds with longer content greatly benefit from being read in paper format. Feeds with shorter alert-type content (new version released, ego searches, answers to blog comments, etc.) is perfect for the RSS aggregator on your computer, while FeedJournal is optimal for subscribing to feeds with longer article content.

In a future post I will describe how any web page you visit can be marked for publishing in your next FeedJournal Reader issue. FeedJournal Reader is still in development, but expect private beta testing e-mails to be sent out shortly. FeedJournal Publisher is available today for bloggers who want to be read on paper.

Friday, November 9, 2007

KillerStartups Feature

FeedJournal was featured on yesterday. I'd be grateful to anyone who would be willing to vote for me. All you have to do is go to the review and click on the plus icon next to the FeedJournal logo. Thank you!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Widget For Your Blog

It's now super-simple to add a FeedJournal widget to your web site or blog. You can see it in action in the left-hand column of my blog ( if you're not already here). Since you are probably using one of the more common blog platforms or social networks (listed below), you're only a few clicks away from having the widget installed to your site.

WidgetBox.comDeveloping this widget is something I've intended to do for a long time. It makes integrating FeedJournal with your site so much more easy. Thanks to the November 2007 article on widgets in "Inc. Magazine" I realized that widget development platforms has now reached a level where it is a very trivial task. All-in-all it only took me one hour until the widget was ready for prime time. All thanks to WidgetBox.

So, what does the widget do? First and foremost it contains a thumbnail snapshot of the FeedJournal newspaper and a text link, both linking directly to the newspaper version of your blog. Second, it allows every visitor to your blog or web site to simply share this PDF with the rest of the world, by e-mail or blog post for example.

How do you install it? In 3 simple steps:
1. Visit, fill in your blog's feed URL and click submit.
2. Wait for the e-mail with the URL from where you can download the generated newspaper.
3. Click on "Get Widget" to add the widget to your site and configure it with the PDF URL from the e-mail.
When you are ready to update the PDF with the latest feed content, you just have to repeat step #1, since the URL to the PDF stays the same.

Future developments of the widget will include an authentic thumbnail of your PDF file's first page, and the possibility to further customize the look and feel of the widget. If you have any other requirements, I promise to take them into consideration.

Installing the widget to your site is trivial if you're somewhat familiar with HTML. You will only need to paste a HTML tag into your site's source code. To install it on one of the services below is even simpler, doesn't require any HTML knowledge and doesn't take more than a few clicks:

  • Blogger
  • Typepad
  • Pageflakes
  • netvibes
  • iGoogle
  • Piczo

Sunday, October 28, 2007

FeedJournal Features Images

FeedJournal now supports images! This is a feature I've been aching to add for a very long time and the work finally got going thanks to a potential customer who really needed it.

FeedJournal with images

The first image from each feed article is added to the newspaper. I am very happy with the visuals and you are welcome to check it out for yourself by downloading the sample PDF newspaper from the thumbnail in the left column on my blog.

For now, image support is a feature reserved for gold members. So, if you generate a sample basic newspaper from, it will not have images. You will have to contact me and I'll arrange access ASAP to a demo gold level account so you can review it for yourself.

To anyone curious as to how the reader project is coming along I have good news. A couple of finishing touches remain, and then I will be starting to send out invitations to get access to the beta version. I'll probably need one or two more weeks. If you want to be a part of the beta testing program, now is the time to let me know! FeedJournal Reader will allow each and everyone, free of charge, to generate and print their own customized PDF newspaper or magazine from a collection of their favorite feeds, using a slick web interface.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Story of FeedJournal at 47 Hats

I have a guest post up at micro-ISV consultant/author Bob Walsh's 47 Hats blog, describing the development of FeedJournal, and some notes about what might come in the future.

On a side note, I am happy to report that category/section support has now been added to FeedJournal, and is available to paying customers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Simplified Web Service Available

The process of generating sample PDF newspapers from your RSS or Atom feeds is now even simpler. It doesn't  require any setup at all and takes not more than a few seconds!

Initial users of the service complained about the FeedJournal newspaper generation process being too cumbersome. We listened to your feedback and are now re-launching the web service for bloggers and content providers.  The whole process of generating a newspaper cannot be simpler!

Just enter your e-mail address and your RSS/Atom feed and push the button. Wait a few seconds while the newspaper layout is generated and you will be picking up the link to your PDF newspaper in your e-mail inbox in no time.

At the same time, two more advanced web service offerings are being launched, silver and gold membership. These services offer advanced content filtering mechanisms for getting the full content out of your summary feed, custom branding of the newspaper and full control over fonts, paragraph layout, page size whitespace, etc.

To get started with FeedJournal's free basic service or to learn more about the business options head over to

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

FeedJournal on the Radio

Yesterday, Irish radio show "The Right Hook" discussed newspapers and technology. FeedJournal was in the center of attention. Simon McGarr skillfully presented the technology behind FeedJournal as well as discussing future uses for newspapers generated from RSS feeds.

The show is available in MP3 format. The newspaper discussion starts 7 minutes into the segment.

McGarr expands on the discussion in the radio show in an excellent blog post named The Future of Newspapers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

FeedJournal Web Service Launched

FeedJournal proudly presents the availability of a web service for bloggers and other content providers to publish their latest articles as a PDF newspaper or magazine (see left column of this blog for a sample). The service enables an easy export of your RSS or Atom feeds to a newspaper. Full branding capabilities and customization options are available in the service. The newspaper is regenerated on the fly by simply pinging FeedJournal's service.

To learn more about how it works, and to get started, head over to

Friday, August 31, 2007

My Interview in Silicon Republic

I was recently interviewed by Ireland's leading tech news service, Silicon Republic, regarding the upcoming launch of FeedJournal's web service. The article is published online (see below) and is well worth a read. It talks about the future of traditional media and my visions for FeedJournal.

Direct link to online article: Bespoke newspapers on the way

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Read My Blog as a Newspaper/Magazine

Starting today, I am offering my latest blog posts as a free magazine in PDF format. You will find the link to this blog's FeedJournal magazine in the left sidebar. Print it and read it wherever you like; during your commute, in bed or anywhere else where you prefer to be offline and rest your eyes from the computer screen.

As soon as I publish a new post the magazine is updated. The oldest post is pushed out to make room for the new one.

Even if reading my blog posts on paper does not excite you, you might be thrilled to know that the same service will soon be available to all bloggers and other content providers who want to offer their readers the opportunity to enjoy the newspaper/magazine format.

In the coming days, I will publish information about how you easily can integrate and customize this service with your own RSS or Atom feed. Available customizations include logo, font selection, number of columns, page size, limits on articles, multiple feeds, deep linking, content filtering, etc.

Keep your eyes on this blog!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

FeedJournal 2.0 Build 186 Released

Build 186 of FeedJournal 2.0 has been released. It contains the following changes and bug fixes:
  • Publish button was not working in all configurations.
  • Output folder is now defaulting to My Documents.
  • Warning when attempting to publish an empty newspaper and helpful suggestions how to solve the problem.
  • Changed position of dialog buttons.
Click here to download the file.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

FeedJournal 2.0 Build 185 Released

The last FeedJournal builds contained a mean bug where the database was not found when opening the application from the Start menu or via the Desktop shortcut. Thanks Boris for pointing this out!

FeedJournal displayed an ugly database exception "No such table Issues", which is the first table it tries to access.

The bug is now fixed and there is a fresh build #185 available for download. Click here to download the file. Thank you Adamantium and Henrik Blomgren for kindly providing installation file hosting.

I will soon be going on vacation for a couple of weeks, but the development will continue even if you will notice a temporary hiatus in blog posts. Right now I am focusing on implementing an improved HTML parser for generating even better looking article layouts. And of course, web development continues and I will very soon be able to offer custom RSS newspapers over web services.

You will see it first on this blog, where a PDF newspaper with all the latest blog posts will be free to download. If you are a blogger or any other type of content provider and see yourself in need of such a solution please contact me!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 Status Report

A while back I decided to port FeedJournal into a web application and offer it at The decision was greatly inspired by the user community who strongly voiced their opinion about choosing the web option. I had a vote here on my blog a month ago and a very large majority voted in favor of the web. The two most important factors were:
  1. Not having to install the application locally
  2. Cross platform availability
I am happy to announce that the development is well underway and going smooth. Due to the fact that the code base is C#/.NET 2.0, my choice of technology has naturally fallen on ASP.NET 2.0 and SQL Server. As is a standard these days, I plan on including some AJAX in the interface to improve the user experience.

Users can expect a launch sometime this year. I plan to roll out features incrementally and having an early release with a basic feature set. The idea is to early on grow a strong user base who will influence FeedJournal's direction and future.

On the development side of things I am so far impressed with the development speed using ASP.NET. Together with Visual Studio and SubSonic for auto-generation of the database layer I am very satisfied with my work environment.

FeedJournal's progress will be posted here, so please sign up for the RSS feed and you will be sure to be first to know when the site will be operational for printing your own newspapers. The Windows version of FeedJournal will of course continue to be available as before.

Two major question marks at this stage are web design and hosting. I'd be happy to receive ideas from my readers to guide me in these decisions.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New FeedJournal 2.0 Build (#184)

A new version of FeedJournal is available for download!

What's new in this version:

  • Improved installation program.
  • Improved support for Atom 1.0 feeds.

Download the build from FeedJournal's download page.

Note about Blogspot/Blogger feeds:

If you previously had issues with Blogspot's Atom feeds you should try the new build. If you are using Blogspot's new feed URLs (ending with "posts/default") please use the workaround outlined in the FAQ.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

FeedJournal as Desktop or Web Application

I have recently been approached by various users who would like to see FeedJournal as a web application where there would be no need for installation. Of course, as a web site it would also be easier to have a community where news feeds are sorted by for example popularity.

I am still sitting on the fence about this, so I would like to hear your opinion, please vote for your preferred option.

Create polls and vote for free.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

FeedJournal 3.0 - Planned Features

FeedJournal v3.0 is in the works. This release will contain several substantial improvements:
  • Completely revamped and simplified interface.
  • Embedded images for news articles.
  • Preview issues before publishing.
  • No need to open Acrobat Reader for viewing and printing.
  • Back-issues browser.
  • Toggle to disable specific news sources.
  • Support for feeds in Atom 1.0 format.
  • Improved installation process.
  • and more...
No release date is published yet, but expect a few months down the road for the first public beta. I am listening with both ears to any feature requests or other comments you might have.