The Grazr widget will stop functioning

Note: I have not been a part of day-to-day operations at Grazr.corp for over a year now and am not speaking for the company in any way.

rss_opml.pngEven though I’m no longer with the company, I’ve been asked by several people now what’s happening with Grazr. Sadly, Grazr.com is currently in the process of shutting down. Grazr the company has no official blog anymore so I’ve decided to write about the news. The truth is Grazr and the Grazr Widget have not been a focus of the company for a long time and it appears that the company can no longer justify the expense of keeping it running. Even with the low costs of servers and hosting these days, it still costs something to keep the service up, fast, and reliable.

Widget_notice.png
All Grazr widgets across the web are now displaying a message that the service will cease to function on July 31st.

Now, as the original author of the Grazr widget, to say this makes me sad is an understatement. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a new service + widget, one that performs many of the same functions of the original Grazr widget, but I decided for various reasons it wasn’t right for me to do it. Now that the company has officially decided to shut down Grazr and the widget, it’s gotten me thinking about putting something together again, primarily as a side hobby.

I’m writing this post partially to gauge interest in such a project. Even as a side hobby, I’d need to explore how this new RSS/OPML service could be made sustainable, some kind of a pay component. I’m not sure exactly what that would be, but at a minimum it would need to cover the cost of the servers. Realistically I can’t afford to run this new project out of pocket so I would need some kind of support to make it happen. I’m interested in ideas as well as what premium services people would be interested in.

I know a common response will likely be “advertising”, but advertising is a trickier business model than most people realize. Even if I were to pursue an advertising model, starting this new service from scratch I can’t afford to pay the initial ramp up period before that kind of business model could potentially become sustainable.

More than likely, this will mark the end of the “super” RSS/OPML widget. I don’t think anyone has really tapped into the deep potential in the combination of OPML and RSS. The nature of this kind of service requires a large free base, and I’m not convinced people feel they get enough value from it that they’d be willing to support / pay. It’s sad, but it may just be time for me to keep moving forward with my other projects and wish Grazr.com and the widget a fond farewell.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • u48998

    Sad. I used to use it but gave up as it was not sure why I should, given that Google Reader has been a better experience.

  • u48998

    Sad. I used to use it but gave up as it was not sure why I should, given that Google Reader has been a better experience.

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    Grazr always had an existential dilemma, what was it trying to be. It wasn't intended to be a general purpose RSS reader, but then, it never quite figured out what it *did* want to be. I personally dislike Google Reader, but I think I'm in an odd minority there.

  • u48998

    I think there are a lot of people waiting for better RSS reader experience. I personally am looking for web version which provides deep filtering, plus sifting and sorting on demand. I am not afraid of data, but give me tools to sift, sort and filter. There's also a potential gap from the data generated by comments (comments like these). No one has been able to extract the value out of short or long conversations on the internet. People hold conversations at one place or another, but no one aggregates.

    Grazr supposedly had a potential to aggregate, plus, it was lightening fast, something new at the time (sort of like Google when Yahoo search was the only option).

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    It was interesting how few people appreciated the speed at the time, I'm glad someone noticed. :) I agree there's room for a better RSS experience, although I would generalize it to a better news and information experience. I wrote about some of my thoughts on the consumption of feeds and news sources here: http://mikepk.com/2009/01/rss-bankrupt-were-in-… but I have ideas that go beyond that post.

    Google has given us a lot of great things, but the double edged sword is that they've sucked out most of the oxygen for potential innovation in this space. It's tough to compete with their resources and “can you believe you get all of this for free?”.

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    Oh, and I agree, comments are a tough problem no one has been able to really figure out. Backtype kind of tried to aggregate comments but it didn't quite gel with me.

  • OzTambo

    Doh… That was a great widget… Now I have to change my site,…. DOH…

  • http://ouseful.info psychemedia

    Hi Mike,

    Shame to see the widget go, though I have to admit I have largely stopped using it (though when I did it drove my thinking considerably… happy days…)

    I would have loved to explore ideas around using Grazr to represent different views of WordPress feeds on writetoreply.org/jiscpress.org, but haven't really trusted the Grazr widget for the last however many months.

    I loved the idea of Grazrscript too, which keeps coming to mind whenever I'm trying to cobble something together for my iPodTouch/Android phone – the Grazr widget would have been such a convenient scripting envt for feed powered online apps; and if it also had offline facilities, could be a great feed powered app prototyping tool?

    But then, I always have been a feed junky!

  • http://ouseful.info psychemedia

    Hi Mike,

    Shame to see the widget go, though I have to admit I have largely stopped using it (though when I did it drove my thinking considerably… happy days…)

    I would have loved to explore ideas around using Grazr to represent different views of WordPress feeds on writetoreply.org/jiscpress.org, but haven't really trusted the Grazr widget for the last however many months.

    I loved the idea of Grazrscript too, which keeps coming to mind whenever I'm trying to cobble something together for my iPodTouch/Android phone – the Grazr widget would have been such a convenient scripting envt for feed powered online apps; and if it also had offline facilities, could be a great feed powered app prototyping tool?

    But then, I always have been a feed junky!

  • Derrickhand300

    I love the Grazr widget. I would be willing to pay like $50/year for it. Its really the only way i know to serve up the news from 6 different RSS feeds on my site- I am really struggling to find a replacement now without it- I hope you have enough response to put out an unbranded pay per use widget…please let me know derrickhand300 (at) yahoo(dot) com

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    Tony, I think you were one of the few who really saw the power and potential in Grazr. We always got stuck trying to explain all the additional power when 99.99% of people just wanted a dynamic blogroll.

    GrazrScript in particular makes me sad since so few people even knew it existed and just as the language was getting *really* interesting, internal company realities led to us abandoning it. I still maintain that feeds are essentially the de facto API for much of the web's data and a hosted powerful 'glue' programming/scripting environment that can manipulate that data (not just a toy like PIpes) would be amazing. Of course who would pay for such a thing?

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    I let you know, derrick, if I put something together. So far the response has been a bit muted but I still have some interest in bundled information flows.

  • http://ouseful.info psychemedia

    Yahoo pipes still lacks a front end environment… I've done a lot of Pipes based workshops over the last couple for years, and grazr would have been the ideal front end UI for it (simple embeddability is a real issue for many of the users I've run workshops for, folk who aren't developers and don't necessarily get code at all…).

    The javascript libraries have also moved on now (eg jquery, YUI, browser storage), plus increasing support for PuSH means that real time updates are more widely supported… SO if you ever did start working on a new version of the widget, I'd certainly be keen to give a it whirl. particulalry in context of:

    - pipes front end;
    - good enough feed powered mobile app UI

    :-)

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    I feel like the problem with Pipes (and what I've heard from people who use it) is that it makes the easy stuff, easy, but makes the moderate or hard stuff damn near impossible. I think visual programming languages are just too fundamentally limited to do anything of substance with. That's just my humble opinion though. :)

  • http://ouseful.info psychemedia

    That's as maybe… but I see pipes as a tool for people who can't code, don't have access to a server, don't have access to a developer.

    I'm interested in lowering barriers to entry to programming for people who don't write code but do work with information. Plug'n'play configuration of existing services, not having to write glue code in assembler…

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    I think visual programming can be a terrific tool to help introduce people to programming concepts, but I've always bristled at the concept of “programming for non-programmers!”. I feel like the phrase is a bit of an oxymoron. If you're programming, be it via visual drag and drop blocks or lines of code, you are a programmer. I agree, though, requiring a development environment and a server of some sort is still a huge barrier. I also think that if there was some way for people to “graduate” from introductory visual programming to more powerful tools (code, or a mixture of visual blocks and code), that would satisfy a lot of the frustrations I've heard voiced by people using Pipes.

  • http://ouseful.info psychemedia

    I'm not talking about programming for non-programmers; i'm talking about programming for non-coders and non-developers. I think everyone should be able to programme… but i don't see why they should have to write code.

    eg primary reason i haven't used umpteen things I really want to use is because i don't have eclipse installed; and whilst i can generally eg reuse bits of code by cut and paste even if i donlt understand how it works, i still have no idea at all how to get anything out of svn… ;-)

    I have a real stumbling block with syntax in code, and have wasted more hours than i care to remember debugging things that were messed up because of syntax errors (yeah right, should learn how to use a debugger…)…

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    Sorry, I'm touchy about the “programming for non programmers” thing, didn't mean to paint you with that brush :) . I still think that if you want to do anyting above a trivial program or simple example , you really need to learn to code. That's just my opinion, but I think the history of visual programming environments has mostly borne that out.

    I've looked at moderately complex behaviors in Pipes, and frankly the “program” is usually very scary and full of crazy hacks. I look at it and think, “That should be 5 lines of code, instead it's 6 pages of crazy wires and feedback loops strewn all over this canvas”. I think many people are intimidated by code and that it could be made a lot friendlier (and easier to play with without repercussions).

    One of the objectives with GrazrScript was to make it completely hosted, without the need for an IDE or installed tools. Millions of people dabbled with javascript because there was an existing runtime environment (the browser) that they didn't really have to monkey with. I wanted to bring the same kind of experimentation and code sharing to the feed and information “flow” space. Never quite got there. :)

  • http://ouseful.info psychemedia

    I agree and donlt with the non-trivial stuff… I can do v powerful things by leveraging different systems together in something like yahoo pipes, and then outputting results to another plug'n'play app that would be more than a few minutes work in code no matter how well I'd set up my dev environment.

    But then, sometimes code is the tool you need for particular applications. But that's not the space I'm trying to promote engagement in. (That said, things like pipes can often be used to construct working specifications or rapid prototypes of apps that folk think they might want…)

    As to Grazrscript and the hosted code/dev envt basis for feed'n'flow data – I'm with you all the way on that :-)

  • http://fredscapes.nl/ Fred Zelders

    It's a pity and a shame that Grazr stopped.

  • Anonymous

    A joomla component would be nice and you could charge a few dollars for it. Having it run on their server rather than setting up a server yourself might be more viable. It is still an awesome idea and nothing out there close to it. I would be interested in testing it on my site if you make one or if you want to test another option. Don’t let it die! mensyang.com [email protected].

  • Jesper

    Too bad, miss the embedded options, trying to find a replacement, but no luck so far.

  • http://andysternberg.com Andy Sternberg

    I really enjoyed displaying my opml feed on my site in a grazr widget. Is there anything that you’d recommend now that the service is gone?

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    I don’t know of any other service that displays full opml. I think Grazr was fairly unique in that respect, but few people appreciate the power of OPML and the concepts behind it.

  • http://twitter.com/p_rijlaarsdam Pieter Rijlaarsdam

    Mike,

    I embedded the grazr widget in CRM software, and haven’t found a good alternative yet.
    If anybody knows a good alternative, feel free to post it here. Also Mike, if you change your mind… I would definitely be interested in a new version.

    Thanks,
    Pieter

  • Mihai1992

    After “years” I founded a very good alternative named Novafeed(novafeed.com).It’s same as Grazr with many themes and other facilities.Discover it.It’s very good:)

  • Asshu

    Google reader is quite different .Using Grazr you can aggregate our blog feed or social stream .I like Grazr as because :It aggregates feed instantly where as other RSS widgets have the time limit like 30 min or 15 min.When you view Grazr widget on some blog or webpage …you find all the feeds in usual manner .But when you click it it opens within the same widget in a frame .There is no other website or tool which have this functionality (Favit has that feature.but it doesn’t provide you the customized widget .Favit is just works as a feed reader).Grazr publishes everything from the feed .Photos,videos ,social buttons in the feeds .No other RSS tool have this functionality .Just Grazr and xfruits has this feature.

    We don’t get any conflict problem using this widget .

    It ‘s look and the style is really superb .Could you tell me the RSS widget provider which comes with the look like Grazr?
    And I am sure and confident to say that there is no RSS Feed tool available like Grazr over internet free or premium .I bet that there is no Tool which provides the features I mentioned above

  • Asshu

    I don’t think that aggregation of comments is important besides the great functionality of Grazr .

  • Asshu

    Yes ! I love its scripting

  • Asshu

    I don’t know what is there much to talk about Yahoo pipes .

  • http://mikepk.com mikepk

    I haven’t found a tool that provides the same features either. The number of people who appreciated Grazr for it’s unique feature set was pretty small. A lot of people are happy with long delayed feeds and displaying only a list of titles and links.

  • Asshu

    Oh ! Great .But I don’t want to lose Grazr . I hope @mikepk relaunch it .

  • Asshu

    I have checket it .Unfortunately it is same as any other RSS feed tool .Nothing special except the look and nice customization .

  • Asshu

    Did you try Xfruits?

  • Asshu

    @MikepkI thought that I would launch a aggregation site using Grazr widgets and came back here after finsing the development of my social netowrks after 2 1/2 months .But sad to listen this news .Grazr ‘s features and the widget style ,customization everything was superb .But the downside is …grazr.com didn’t concentrated on publicity ,social and collaborating with users . And getting started with Grazr openly without registering also affected it from getting popular .

    I feel sad as the people concentrate only on the products which other use regardless of it ‘s greatness . How many of us are using favit? How many of us use using Plunk besides other microblogs ? How many of us using the social networking scripts? We are just concentrating on little scope of just blogging and games .

  • Mezztizo

    I used to use the Grazr Widget to creat my own OPML feeds in my academic website, it would be great to build the widget and sell as a module or component for joomla or drupal. Id buy it in fact make me one and ill pay you.

  • Asshu

    I already requested the similar .I hope Mike helps us :)

  • Escorpicon

    Buenas tardes, porque no liberan el código de Ggrazr, si ya murió él servicio de grazr.com, no prives o priven este maravilloso script, libéralo para los demás VENEZUELA MARACAY

  • Escorpicon

    Buenas tardes, porque no liberan el código de Ggrazr, si ya murió él servicio de grazr.com, no prives o priven este maravilloso script, libéralo para los demás VENEZUELA MARACAY

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dennys-Jose-Marquez-Reyes/100001040886275 Dennys Jose Marquez Reyes

    Buenas tardes, porque no liberan el código de Ggrazr, si ya murió él servicio de grazr.com, no prives o priven este maravilloso script, libéralo para los demás VENEZUELA MARACAY

  • Anonymous

    I would be very interested in a replacement. I think, from quick scan of comments on this post, I might have been using it differently than most. I was using it as one of tha main features on my hobby site (http://www.disneypodcastdirectory.net) and it ahd gotten me many comments and compliements on the site.

    It was being used as the main “viewer” into the data on my site of all the Disney podcasts out there. The compliments came as people liked being able to view through the list, select a podcast, see it’s episodes in the other panel, AND THEN LISTEN to an episode in the lower reading panel before deciding if they wanted to subscribe to it themselves.

    PLEASE create one, and I will pay for use if at a reasonable price I can pay for a site that is a side project for me, kind of the same reasoning on you creating one.

  • Mona Ali
  • Mona Ali
  • roknnagd

    Very nice ….

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