:: Google, Racket, Atom, RSS

Recently I wrote about my my Google Reader successor, using rss2email to push feeds to Gmail.

In the month since, I was still running it on my laptop. To make it work best, it should run on a dedicated server. That way, it would push emails even if I’m away from my laptop, and I could read them on e.g. my phone. But before committing to setting this up on Amazon EC2, I wanted to be sure I liked the approach.

Although I liked it, I missed having feeds in their own folders. Sometimes, I want to catch up with a specific blog, as opposed to a timeline mix of all of them.

Also, I was continuing to have deliverability issues, including Gmail persisting in tagging some items as Spam.

I stumbled across a fork of rss2email that uses IMAP directly. Great idea!

I had what I thought was an even better idea: Instead of doing this in Python, use Google Apps Script. This is a JavaScript environment that Google provides as its answer to macro languages in Microsoft Office products. It’s surprising powerful. Among other things, you can schedule scripts to run. That would mean I wouldn’t need a dedicated server to cron the feed updates.

Also, I was excited for the opportunity to increase my experience with JavaScript.

Unfortunately, although I got pretty far with this approach, I was completely blocked because Google Apps Script can’t access IMAP. And its own email APIs don’t let you create a Gmail mail in a specific folder (i.e. with a specific Gmail label).

I stewed over this for awhile. I looked at the rss2email source. And I decided, well shit, if I have to code this to run on my own server, I want to use Racket.

So I came up with feeds2gmail. It’s similar to the fork of rss2email that uses IMAP directly, but written in Racket.

One thing Racket doesn’t have (that I could find) is a handy library to read feeds. Sometimes I’ve wanted a magic FFI to Python and/or Ruby libs. This was one of those times.

I ended up coding Atom, RSS, and RDF feed parsing myself. It works for the feeds I’ve tried. I suspect this is the most fragile aspect that will need bug fixes. Partly because I may have made mistakes, and partly because the feeds have made mistakes.

Meanwhile, it’s working for me. I have an experience in Gmail that is very close to Google Reader in the respects I care about.