• clearly documented API

  • minimal web interface

  • minimal CLI

Development should follow a problem-solution approach.


In no particular order:

  • Internal API stabilization.

  • CLI stabilization.

  • Web application re-design.

  • Web application stabilization.

Also see open issues:

Supported Python versions

The oldest Python version reader should support is:

  • the newest CPython available on the latest Ubuntu LTS (3 months after LTS release)

  • at least 1 stable PyPy version

This usually ends up being the last 3 stable CPython versions.

Style guide

reader uses the Black style.

You should enforce it by using pre-commit. To install it into your git hooks, run:

pip install pre-commit  # ./ install-dev already does both
pre-commit install

Every time you clone the repo, running pre-commit install should always be the first thing you do.


First, install the testing dependencies:

./ install-dev    # or
pip install '.[dev]'

Run tests using the current Python interpreter:

pytest --runslow

Run tests using the current Python interpreter, but skip slow tests:


Run tests for all supported Python versions:


Run tests with coverage and generate an HTML report (in ./htmlcov):

./ coverage-all

Run the type checker:

./ typing         # or
mypy --strict src

Start a local development server for the web application:

./ serve-dev      # or

FLASK_APP=src/reader/_app/ \
READER_DB=db.sqlite flask run -h -p 8000

Building the documentation

First, install the dependencies:

pip install '.[docs]'   # ./ install-dev already does it for you

The documentation is built with Sphinx:

./ docs           # or
make -C docs html       # using Sphinx's Makefile directly

The built HTML docs should be in ./docs/_build/html/.

Making a release

Making a release (from x to y == x + 1):


scripts/ already does most of these.

  • ( bump version in src/reader/ to y

  • ( update changelog with release version and date

  • ( make sure tests pass / docs build

  • ( clean up dist/: rm -rf dist/

  • ( build tarball and wheel: python -m build

  • ( push to GitHub

  • ( prompts) wait for GitHub Actions / Codecov / Read the Docs builds to pass

  • upload to test PyPI and check: twine upload --repository-url dist/*

  • ( upload to PyPI: twine upload dist/*

  • ( tag current commit with <major>.<minor> and <major>.x (e.g. when releasing 1.20: 1.20 and 1.x)

  • ( prompts) create release in GitHub

  • build docs from latest and enable y docs version (should happen automatically after the first time)

  • ( bump versions from y to (y + 1).dev0, add (y + 1) changelog section

  • ( prompts) trigger Read the Docs build for <major>.x (doesn’t happen automatically)

Design notes

Folowing are various design notes that aren’t captured somewhere else (either in the code, or in the issue where a feature was initially developed).

Why use SQLite and not SQLAlchemy?

tl;dr: For “historical reasons”.

In the beginning:

  • I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, so I don’t get demotivated and stop working on it. I also wanted to try out a “problem-solution” approach.

  • I think by that time I was already a great SQLite fan, and knew that because of the relatively single-user nature of the thing I won’t have to change databases because of concurrency issues.

  • The fact that I didn’t know exactly where and how I would deploy the web app (and that SQLite is in stdlib) kinda cemented that assumption.

Since then, I did come up with some of my own complexity: there’s a SQL query builder, a schema migration system, and there were some concurrency issues. SQLAlchemy would have likely helped with the first two, but not with the last one (not without dropping SQLite).

Note that it is possible to use a different storage implementation; all storage stuff happens through a DAO-style interface, and SQLAlchemy was the main real alternative I had in mind. The API is private at the moment (1.10), but if anyone wants to use it I can make it public.

It is unlikely I’ll write a SQLAlchemy storage myself, since I don’t need it (yet), and I think testing it with multiple databases would take quite some time.

Multiple storage implementations

Detailed requirements and API discussion: #168#issuecomment-642002049.

Minimal work needed to support alternate storages: #168#issuecomment-1383127564.


file:// handling, feed root, per-URL-prefix parsers (later retrievers, see below):

Requests session plugins:

Retriever / parser split:

Alternative feed parsers:


Some thoughts on implementing metrics: #68#issuecomment-450025175.

Query builder

Survey of possible options: #123#issuecomment-582307504.

In 2021, I’ve written an entire series about it:

Pagination for methods that return iterators

Why do it for the private implementation: #167#issuecomment-626753299 (also a comment in storage code).

Detailed requirements and API discussion for public pagination: #196#issuecomment-706038363.

reader types to Atom mapping

This whole issue: #153.

Sort by random

Some thoughts in the initial issue: #105.

Entry/feed “primary key” attribute naming

This whole issue: #159#issuecomment-612914956.

Change feed URL

From the initial issue:

Feed tags

Detailed requirements and API discussion: #184#issuecomment-689587006.

Merging tags and metadata, and the addition of a new, generic (global, feed, entry) tag API: #266#issuecomment-1013739526.

Entry user data

#228#issuecomment-810098748 discusses three different kinds, how they would be implemented, and why I want more use-cases before implementing them (basically, YAGNI):

  • entry searchable text fields (for notes etc.)

  • entry tags (similar to feed tags, may be used as additional bool flags)

  • entry metadata (similar to feed metadata)

    • also discusses how to build an enclosure cache/preloader (doesn’t need special reader features besides what’s available in 1.16)

#253 discusses using entry tags to implement the current entry flags (read, important); tl;dr: it’s not worth adding entry tags just for this.

After closing #228 with wontfix in late 2021, in early 2022 (following the #266 tag/metadata unification) I implemented entry and global tags in #272; there’s a list of known use cases in the issue description.

User-added entries

Discussion about API/typing, and things we didn’t do: #239.

Feed updates

Some thoughts about adding a map argument: #152#issuecomment-606636200.

How update_feeds() is like a pipeline: comment.

Data flow diagram for the update process, as of v1.13: #204#issuecomment-779709824.


Disabling updates:

Updating entries based on a hash of their content (regardless of updated):

Decision to ignore feed.updated when updating feeds: #231.

Counts API

Detailed requirements and API discussion: #185#issuecomment-731743327.

Using None as a special argument value

This comment: #177#issuecomment-674786498.

Batch methods

Some initial thoughts on batch get methods (including API/typing) in #191 (closed with wontfix, for now).

Why I want to postpone batch update/set methods: #187#issuecomment-700740251.

tl:dr: Performance is likely a non-issue with SQLite, convenience can be added on top as a plugin.

See the 2.12 reader._app.ResourceTags class for an idea of how to represent a bunch of tags in a reserved-name-scheme-agnostic way (useful e.g. for when get_entries() should return tags x, y, z of each entry).

Using a single Reader objects from multiple threads

Some thoughts on why it’s difficult to do: #206#issuecomment-751383418.


List of potential hooks (from mid-2018): #80.

Minimal plugin API (from 2021) – case study and built-in plugin naming scheme: #229#issuecomment-803870781.

We’ll add / document new (public) hooks as needed.

Reserved names

Requirements, thoughts about the naming scheme and prefixes unlikely to collide with user names: #186 (multiple comments).

Wrapping underlying storage exceptions

Which exception to wrap, and which not: #21#issuecomment-365442439.

Timezone handling

Aware vs. naive, and what’s needed to go fully aware: #233#issuecomment-881618002.

OPML support

Thoughts on dynamic lists of feeds: #165#issuecomment-905893420.


Using MinHash to speed up similarity checks (maybe):


Some early thoughts: #192#issuecomment-700773138 (closed with wontfix, for now).

Web application